Posted by: ccarls | April 25, 2008

Irresponsible Luxury

Its been a few days since my last entry.  Sorry for the hiatus.  Work, church, bike training and family are keeping me busy around the clock.   So, I thought I would blog about something that I know you all would be interested in…Bike wheels! 

The wheel (not just bike wheels) is one of man’s crowning achievements.  Wheels have taken much of the burdon off of our shoulders.  Carved from stone, the first wheels were very heavy and cumbersome.  Wood and steel wheels followed.  Today we have wheels made out of all different types of materials. They are lighter, stronger, and more efficient, than ever before.   (BTW.  Wheels and tires are two separate things. Tires go on wheels, duh.)

Bike wheel technology has changed as rapidly as computer technology.  Today,High-end road cycling wheels are made of carbon composite and various alloys to make them very light and fast. (really fast) These wheels, however, come at a price.  Some cost more than a nice bike itself. (Thousands of dollars).  So why all the banter about wheels?  Well, I just bought some new wheels for my bike and I have many contrasting feelings regarding them.  (Yes, I feel for wheels…)

Let me sum these feelings up for you.  They come in two categories- guilt and pure unadulterated pleasure.


  1. Do I really need “Tour de France” quality wheels as an enthusiast? (Probably not)
  2. Does a “Toyota” bike really need “Rolls Royce” wheels? (I guess its ok, if you like Pimp my Ride)
  3. Could I have put that money in some mutual fund for college or retirement? (Absolutely)
  4. Where are my priorities? What is wrong with me…? (I’m not sure)
  5. Am I responsible enough to be a husband and father? (Occasionally)

Pure unadulterated pleasure:

  1. Oh how I love your carbon spokes and sleek black finish. Can I just hang you on my wall and look upon you?  You remind me of the Picasso or Ferrari I will never own!
  2. The fact that your aluminum alloy rims have been specifically machined to cut of grams makes my heart flutter.
  3. Moving up hills like the ‘King of the Mountain” jersey-wearer will be so thrilling!
  4. Going 2 to 3 miles an hour faster on average might even put me on the podium after my triathlon relay at the end of May.

I love the new wheels.  I hate myself for buying them.  I will be fast.


Posted by: ccarls | April 14, 2008

The Library of Congress Experience Opens!

This last Saturday, the Library of Congress re-opened to the public with an entire new expeirence.  I’ve been managing this project at the Library for almost two years and the opening was the culmination of all my and many other people’s great efforts.  If you haven’t been down the the Thomas Jefferson Building, you have been missing out.  It is the most beautiful building in Washington D.C. and is a true national treasure.  The Library is truely awesome.  Below are some of the highlights from the new experience.  To learn more go to


The Art and Architecture of the Thomas Jefferson Building

Visitors to the Library’s historic Thomas Jefferson Building enter directly into the first floor Great Hall via three bronze doors, which will be opened to the public for the first time in nearly two decades on April 12, the day before Jefferson’s 265th birthday.


From there they are directed to one of two orientation galleries flanking the Great Hall, where information about events and how to navigate the new Experience is presented on overhead monitors. A multimedia “overture” plays on a multi-screen collage in each orientation gallery.


In the Great Hall (pictured above), interactive technology allows visitors to zoom in on the artistic and architectural details of the space, and enhances a display of two of the Library’s most prized objects: the Gutenberg Bible and Giant Bible of Mainz.


Creating the United States

On the second floor (mezzanine level) is the new exhibit “Creating the United States”, where visitors are first greeted by an interactive video wall that senses their presence and reveals varied historical information based on where the visitor is standing.


“Creating the United States” tells the story of how our Founding Fathers used creativity, collaboration and compromise to form our nation, with a focus on the words and phrases that created the republic. Visitors can examine and interact with historic drafts of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington’s copy of the Constitution and John Beckley’s Bill of Rights.


Thomas Jefferson’s Library

Visitors can explore Thomas Jefferson’s library, featuring thousands of original volumes that provided the foundation for the Library of Congress and its universal collections. They also can navigate books through page-turning technology and learn how one of America’s greatest thinkers was inspired.


Exploring the Early Americas

The Library of Congress Experience incorporates the “Exploring the Early Americas” exhibit, which opened in December 2007.


The exhibition tells the story of the Americas before the time of Columbus, as well as the period of contact, conquest and their aftermath. It features unique objects from the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Collection, as well as Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 Map of the World, the first document to use the word “America.”



Posted by: ccarls | April 6, 2008

Awesome Blossom!

Audrey told me that my distorted picture was so visually disturbing that I needed to post something aesthetically pleasing to distract people from my gruesome appearance.  So here you go.  The whole family packed into the car and went down to see the cherry blossoms on Sunday morning before conference.  It was rainy and cold but we had a great time chasing the boys and seeing the beautiful trees.  Thank you Japan for your lovely, enduring gift.

Posted by: ccarls | April 1, 2008

Turn about is fair play…


Many of you were horrified by the picture of my wife that I manipulated. (If you missed it go here)  She posted it on her blog of her own volition.  I didn’t tell her to post the picture, but she did.  So in order to lesson the horror, (on increase it, depending on how you look at it)  I have decided to post one of me.  Now you can see the other half of the freak show that is Chris and Audrey.

Posted by: ccarls | March 29, 2008

Congratulations Ranger!


Congratulations dad on finishing your chemotherapy and radiation treatment.  You are a real trooper.  I know the next couple of weeks won’t be easy, so if you need a good laugh, just check out the Queen V’s haircut in this picture! (Kind of looks like a mushroom from Mario Brothers)  Oh, and also remember how proud I was of you when I promoted you to Major.  I love this picture because you’re paying attention to the right person. 🙂 

Posted by: ccarls | March 25, 2008

Easter on my Keister

Yesterday we had Easter dinner over at my parents house.  Of course, in typical Black Sheep fashion, I did none of the work.  I leave that to the professionals.  Mom, Sam, and Audrey did everything. I try to stay out of the way lest I create some bah-hum-bug moment.  I have to say, Easter dinner was perfect.   Of course, mom had all the Peter Rabbit dishes out. (I can’t remember not eating on them at Easter.)  Each place setting had a perfect little place card, fresh (perfectly folded) linen napkins, and sterling silverware.  There were classic easter bunnies and eggs everywhere, fresh flowers, etc…  Every holiday meal is like something out of Martha Stewart at mom’s house.  

We had yummy ham, cheesy mashed potatoes,perfectly cooked carrots, sweet potatoes with marsh mellows, home made rolls, spinach salad with fresh berries, and the best zest of lime cake for desert.   Even the children were perfectly behaved. (Certainly there was some divine intervention.)   Anyways, I took my camera and snapped quite a few shots so that you could all be jealous. :-).  Actually, I hope you all had as nice an Easter as we did.

Posted by: ccarls | March 17, 2008

Christian and Chris


Over the last couple of years, several women have come up to me and told me that I look like Christian Bale.  It’s happened three times at church.  At work, several female colleagues have noted it.  One  of Audrey’s friends called and said something like, “Hey, I just saw Rescue Dawn and I think Chris looks so much like Christian Bale!”

Well, I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed.  Let’s be honest. I’m way more attractive than Mr. Bale.

To demonstrate this, I have created a side by side comparison of Mr. Bale and me, El Suprimo (my father’s nickname for me as a toddler).  The picture of Christian (on the left, in case you were confused about who is who) was on the cover of a professional photography magazine of which I maintain a subscription.  Chistian’s portrait was shot by world famous photographer, Nigel Perry. To create an apples to apples comparison, I mimicked the lighting and pose as I shot this self portrait (using the on camera timer) in my basement.

 Now, as you look at these two pictures, lets examine why Mr. Bale can’t hold a candle to Mr. Carlson:

  • We both have high cheek bones and deep-set eyes.  But Christian looks a bit gaunt. (Eat something already!)
  • Christian had to hire a world class photographer to make him look as good as me.  I used a second rate wanna be. (myself)
  • He probably had a hair stylist, make-up artist, and a world class retouch artist on hand. I cloned out a couple of small blemishes on my face. Only a couple, I promise.
  • He’s sporting a sorry looking, scraggly beard.  How would that thing look after eating BBQ?  My old toothbrush looks softer.
  • His lips look so dry, while mine look soft and supple.
  • His nose is lumpier.  How is this even possible?

I could go on and on…  

So you be the judge, Chris or Christian? If you pick Christian, I’m pretty confident that it is all about the money.

Posted by: ccarls | March 11, 2008

The Magnificent 7

 Mag 7

As some of you might know, my dad is battling throat cancer.  His treatment consist of chemotherapy, radiation, and future surgery.  All had been going fairly smoothly until last week when a combination of complications arose that landed him in the hospital yesterday.  I visited with him on Sunday (before he went to the hospital) and he looked and sounded terrible.  I was kind of relieved that he had to be admitted.  

He’s over at Bethesda Naval Medical Center where the staff of doctors and nurses are fantastic.  Mom, Sam, and I visited him today.  He looks so much better than he did over the weekend. While we were there, the Magnificent 7 (seven doctors looking out for my dad) came in to check on him.   They were only there for about 15 minutes, but I could tell that they truly cared for dad. They are doing a great job at diagnosing and providing solutions for his recent problems.  I took a quick snapshot of dad pontificating to “the 7”.  The discussion was mostly medical but I’ve come up with my own quotes for dad in this picture:

  • “I can tell the radiation is working because my nose used to be this big.”
  • “I saw a pillar of red hair, right in front of my bed.” (Might have to be Mormon to get this one.)
  • “See these 5 guys? They are lucky to be with you two beautiful doctors.” (He’s such a smooth operator)
  • “Shake my hand.  You have the thanks of a grateful Nation.”
  • “What do you mean there’s no cable? Can someone hand me the remote?”
  • “Pull my finger.” 


Please feel free to add your quotes in the comments!

Posted by: ccarls | March 8, 2008

No sleep for the black sheep after 6:00 am

Family Feet

It all starts around 6:00 am every morning.  My son of two years, Samuel, starts screaming for Audrey.  She goes in, changes his diaper, and then I hear over and over, “I want daddy, I want daddy!”.   Thinking that he’ll go back to sleep for a while, Audrey brings Samuel into our bed .  Now I know that doesn’t sound that unusual.  What happens next though is dare I say, weird.  Samuel proceeds to suck his thumb and rub my earlobe for the next half an hour.  I’m not sure what has spawned this behavior but he’s obsessed with it.  He derives some kind of comfort from it. If I try to cover my ear with a blanket or turn my head  he says, “I want ear! I want ear!”.  So I relent, hoping that if he’s quiet, he’ll go back to sleep.

At 6:45 am on the dot, Jonah (my oldest son- age 6) shows up for a snuggle.   He is usually one of two characters: a homeless puppy or some type of fiery explosion. I hope for homeless puppy because they are much more quiet.  Once Samuel is aware of Jonah’s presence, all hell breaks loose. Of, course, Audrey is sleeping through all of this because she has some uncanny ability to turn off her hearing and feeling senses.

7:00 am rolls around and I have to get ready for work.  I leave the bed, which usually looks like the picture above.  I’m really not complaining about any of this though.  All of it has become part of my morning ritual.  If I don’t get at least 15 minutes of earlobe message and hear some strange barking, my day just isn’t the same.

Posted by: ccarls | March 6, 2008

Audrey, you don’t have to turn on the red light…

Red Light

I’m not quite satisfied with my readership yet, so I thought I would start out with something titillating.   Many of you know my lovely wife, Audrey. We have been married since December of 1994.(All wonderful years)  Well, if you have seen Audrey lately, you probably have noticed the little extra shake in her step or maybe a sensuous twinkle in her eye.  It is as if she has just finished a Twilight series book, every time she sees me. (My middle name just happens to be Edward)  So, how have I done it?  What is the secret to my rejuvenated mojo?  How have I harnessed the power to seduce my wife on any given night?

The secret is simple.  I purchased an Oregon Scientific DP 100 daylight projection clock with indoor temperature display.  I was tired of searching for the time during the night.  This clock projects large, red, digital numbers on the ceiling.  I just open my eyes and boom, there is the time.  The projection gives our room a sorta red-light district meets NFL scoreboard kind of feel.  Maybe that is why Audrey is so turned on by it.  She loves football.  So stop wasting your money on lotions, fragrances, whip cream, and lingerie.  Go Scientific!  Oregon Scientific! 

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