Matt Brundage

Archive for 2006

Saturday, 21 October 2006


Annie and me saying our vows. Annie and I were married at 11am on Saturday, October 21, 2006 at the Historic Chapel of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Gaithersburg, Md. The weather was perfect: bright, clear, and brisk. My grandparents, the groomsmen, and I greeted guests until about 10 minutes till. Then, Msgr. Paul, my best man Ray, and I assembled in the rectory while my nerves went haywire. Msgr. Paul then took our hands and said a prayer. Before I knew it, we were walking around the altar; Ray and I took our places.

After a couple of gathering songs that I wasn’t really paying attention to, the organ then belted out Wagner’s wedding march, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen started walking down the aisle. As Annie stood at the doorway of the chapel, the sunlight hit her white dress and temporarily made her glow. I will never forget her smile as she walked arm and arm with her father. He escorted my bride to the sanctuary steps and lifted her veil. We took our seats and tried not to reveal our nervous enthusiasm. When the actual marriage sacrament began, we both became more relaxed. Msgr. Paul helped, too, with his whispered comments to us like: “I’m gonna take care of you both..” and “Don’t worry about a thing…”

During the nuptial blessing, I remember thinking, “Gee, they’re making all this fuss just for us. Everyone is here for us. We were blessed to have not only St. Rose’s pastor, Paul Dudziak, but their finest cantor, Alice Henning and their former director of music, Nancy Novelly. The former has a beautiful, effortless soprano; the latter is a virtuoso at the piano and organ. Their presence really helped; it was much better than having “just anyone” in those roles.

Outside after the wedding We walked down the aisle together and were followed by the wedding party. One of my groomsmen had the fortunate experience of escorting not one but two bridesmaids. After a brief rendezvous around a fountain in the church garden, we went back into the church for an extended photo session. What we didn’t know until later was that, while the session was taking place, most of our wedding guests were congregating outside the church, apparently waiting for us to come out and say hello.

Our photographer, J. Stuart Harris, had a way of being commanding and authoritative without being bossy. He was definitely in control (and organized) and squeezed some fine pictures out of us in record time. All the while, our faithful videographer, Dean Dykema, documented everything while preserving our spontaneity. When the church photo session was over, we headed outdoors to take advantage of the fall colors (see second photo).

After the outdoor session, we all drove over to my parents’, who were hosting a luncheon for a few dozen guests. We made our appearance, grabbed a few roast beef stuffed tortilla wraps, and then headed back to the townhouse to prepare for the Thai wedding ceremony and reception, held at New Fortune restaurant in Gaithersburg. We arrived there a few hours early to set up the tables and the Phakhuane tree for the Phiti Bai Sri Su Kwan (Holy Threads) ceremony (see third photo).

The ceremony is just a small part of a traditional Thai wedding. Another part would have been a parade from the groom’s house to the bride’s house. That would have meant a seven mile walk up Georgia Avenue in traffic. Oh, and I would have had to yodel a lot. That would have not been good.

Annie and I came up with this text for a postcard we sent out with the invitations:

Annie and me at New Fortune The Phakhuane (pron. PA-kwon) is a conical-shaped floral arrangement that is the central focus of the Bai Sri Su Kwan ceremony. It is traditionally prepared by respected elders who have had long and happy marriages. At the base of the Phakhuane is food that represents fertility, such as rice, eggs, fruit, et cetera. Flowers are placed throughout the Phakhuane as decoration; in between them are the Holy Threads. At the very top sits a burning candle.

When everyone is seated, we bow down to our parents. This is a time to reflect upon the good and the bad, the past, present, and future. We bow down to thank them for everything they’ve done for us and to ask for their forgiveness for any wrongdoing that we’ve done. It’s also a time for our parents to give us their blessing. The wedding officiator will take the holy threads and place them between our hands as we pray. We will be seated on the floor in front of the Phakhuane opposite from the officiator and surrounded by friends and family.

We will all sit in a prayer position during the ceremony while the officiator chants his blessings and advice for us. He will then ask everyone to call to the spirits (or kwan) to come. Since weddings are big transitions, this is traditionally done to ask the kwan of the bride and groom to come together. Afterward, the guests take the holy threads from the Phakhuane and tie them around our wrists. This is a chance for the guests to give us their blessings and advice for a happy marriage. Please join us to “Thai the Knot!”

The ceremony lasted about an hour; it seemed that nearly everyone in attendance knelt down with us and tied holy threads around our wrists. We were pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Following the ceremony was dinner and dancing. We didn’t get to eat but a few bites of food, as we went around to all the tables for photographs. The food looked really good, though. We were too wound up to notice that we were hungry.

Barry Lyons was our master of ceremonies and DJ for the evening. He can be considered a “freelance” DJ, as he has a fine day job as well. Barry was a must-have for the reception — in fact, we changed our wedding date to accommodate Barry’s schedule! It was well worth it. He gets a lot of gigs through word of mouth, and for good reason. He can get a dance floor jumping and is a master at getting the crowds to participate. Even with the language barrier with some of Annie’s guests, he got them to do strange, American traditions like the Hokey-Pokey, the Chicken Dance, and the YMCA.

Annie and I were seriously on autopilot by then, and smiled at anything that remotely looked like a camera. We danced for hours and the crowd started thinning out at around 11:30 or so.

Friday, 20 October 2006

Rehearsal Dinner

Annie and me, Golden Bull restaurant, Gaithersburg MDAfter the wedding rehearsal — which was actually more nerve-wracking for me than the wedding itself — we made our way over to the Golden Bull Grand Cafe in Gaithersburg. Many thanks go to my parents, who paid for the occasion.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006

Four days to go

I will be a married man in four days. Then, I’m off to Sint-Maarten for a bliss-filled week in the sun. But in the back of my mind… The final build of Firefox 2.0 may be released while I’m away, pending the success of Fx 2.0 RC3.

Monday, 9 October 2006

Every child a wanted child

The catch-phrase “Every child a wanted child” makes me want to hurl. Instead of the concise retort “Every unwanted child a dead child” on my random thoughts page, why not the awkward but effective “Every child that manages to make it out of the birth canal without either being injected with a toxic saline solution, sucked out and torn limb-from-limb by a powerful vacuum, or having its brain sucked out by a catheter, thereby allowing the scull to collapse and the entire body to pass more easily through the cervix a wanted child.”

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Scheming Republicans

Those scheming Republicans… improving the economy, lowering gas prices, lowering unemployment, smoking out terrorists, keeping the US safe from terrorist attacks — all to selfishly keep control of the House and Senate! I urge you to vote Democrat to reverse these alarming trends.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Duet of the Year

Medium Image The “Duet of the Year” — perhaps even “Song of the Year” — goes to “Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)”, a conversational-style ballad from the Decemberists’ latest album, The Crane Wife, released today.

Decemberists’ frontman Colin Meloy plays the role of a dead Confederate soldier buried far from home; guest vocalist Laura Viers, his doting pregnant wife. Meloy, infamous for his reputation of being well-read, doesn’t disappoint:

Heart-carved tree trunk, Yankee bayonet
A sweetheart left behind
Far from the hills of the sea-swelled Carolinas
That’s where my true love lies

Look for me when the sun-bright swallow
Sings upon the birch bough high
But you are in the ground with the wolves and the weevils
All a’chew upon your bones so dry

The voices of Meloy and Veirs fit together in a way that contrasts more than it blends, but the overall effect is appealing. The sound is reminiscent of The Pernice Brothers’ “Subject Drop”, a duet between Joe Pernice and Blake Hazard.

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

Trader Joe’s

So I walk into the Silver Spring, MD Trader Joe’s last night to return some two-day old nectarines. Nectarines that looked as if they had been sprinkled with all manner of mold spores and left in a moist, warm environment for a month. I was expecting that I would at least have to explain myself and show my receipt (which I had). However, the cashier asked for the supervisor to come over, and the man simply asked me how much my item cost. “$3.29”, I said. He opened the cash register and handed me the cash. No fuss; no muss. They took my bag containing the three uneaten, rotting nectarines and I went on my merry way.

I was impressed with the level of (perceived) trust they had in me. They didn’t bother checking the receipt to confirm that 1.) I had indeed purchased a container of nectarines two days earlier, and 2.) that the price I paid was indeed $3.29. Since I had paid with a credit card, I thought my refund would go back on the card as well; the cash refund was unexpected, but above all, tangible.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Of falling furniture and crude oil

I read a report recently that conveyed concern over the number of children that are injured or die due to falling TVs and TV stands. Pier 1 has even recalled an item after one Canadian child died after leaning on the open drawer of the TV stand. One child.

Try this lecturing on for size:

… The CPSC also advises keeping your TV as far back as possible on its stand. Make sure the stand itself, whether it’s a bookshelf, dresser or armoire — is stable itself. If possible, anchor it to the wall or floor.

Keep all electrical cords out of a child’s reach. Also, don’t give your kids a reason to climb the furniture.

“Avoid putting on top of TV sets or other pieces of furniture, items that could tempt a child to climb, such as a remote control or a toy,” advises Nord.

I know most of this is just common sense and goes without saying. Perhaps we can use this “crisis” as an opportunity to impart to our children a basic knowledge of classical mechanics. If ten deaths a year is to be considered a crisis, what word can be used to explain the early deaths brought on by nicotine, saturated fats, and the like?

I still don’t give a left-handed flying farkle about crude oil prices. Yes, it’s nice right now to pay relatively lower prices. But will my worrying about it cause prices to fall? Will not worrying about it cause prices to rise?

CNN’s Bill Schneider recently claimed that lower oil prices could be the result of a conspiracy by Big Oil to help Republicans in upcoming midterms. Wha? Yet, just a few months ago, conspiracy theorists claimed that Big Oil colluded to jack up prices at the pump. So, regardless of if prices rise or fall, Big Oil is out to get you.

This lose-lose situation is also found in articles about the economy. On Tuesday, USA Today ran a story called “Gas Price Decline May Spur Inflation“. When prices rise, inflation will occur. When prices fall, inflation will occur. As usual, Newbusters has spot-on analysis of this phenomenon.

What have we learned today? Regardless of the price trend of crude oil, inflation is imminent and Big Oil is conspiring against you. Oh, and your TV wants you dead.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Off the Wiki deep end

Now I know that I’m a true Wikipedia addict: I created an account on the Spanish Wikipedia to help out with music and album categorization. I took Spanish for two years in high school, but I can hardly say that I know the language. This should be muy interesante.

Monday, 11 September 2006

In Memoriam

Bush at the WTC site, 11 Sept 2006Five years ago today, the United States fell victim to a vicious, unprovoked attack by terrorists acting on the orders of Osama bin-Laden that forever changed this nation and its people.

The acts of violence committed by al-Qaida, terrorists on September 11, 2001 left more than 3,000 people dead and wounded in New York City, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon. This tragedy shall not and should not ever be forgotten. Today, on this grimmest of anniversaries, I hope we will take time to remember what we have lost, to reflect on what we must do and to recommit to meeting the challenges that lie ahead with vigor and determination as the President has asked us to do.

The acts of these few committed fanatics may have led to the destruction of families, the destruction of property and the destruction of a sense of security the end of the Cold War brought to America; but they did not destroy the American ideal, the spirit of liberty that has made this nation a beacon of hope for the world for more than two centuries.

We have responded to these attacks with appropriate force, taking the battle to freedom’s enemies. Since September 11, more than 1.3 million U.S. servicemen and women have joined this battle, with more than 2,900 giving their lives in defense of this noble cause. We owe them and their families a special debt of gratitude.

We have made considerable progress in this fight against terror. Many of the masterminds of September 11 and other terror plots have been captured. They are being detained and will be brought to trial and are, as the President said Wednesday, being treated “with a mercy they denied others.”

To all of you in the Department of Energy family for whom the losses on September 11 were personal, I extend condolences on my own behalf as well as on behalf of the President. I also want to extend my gratitude to all DOE Federal and contractor employees who work so hard to preserve the freedom and welfare of this great country. Together, we continue to pay tribute to those whose lives were taken on September 11, 2001, by serving our Nation and its citizens with honor, humility, and hope.

Thank you.

Source: Dept. of Energy