Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 30 -- Tuck me in

For anyone who has children--or was once a child who was not raised by leopards--you know that story time is an integral part of the bed time ritual.  In our family, we allow the Princess three story books, with a fourth story if she gets ready for bed quickly.  She can pick whatever books she chooses from her collection in her room provided that they are short and not horribly banal.  We then sit on her floor with her in Mommy's lap and Daddy reading her each book, precisely in the order she dictates.

For the last few weeks one book has been a staple of hers, and therefore been read over and over again.  Tuck Me In by Dean Hacohen offers a simple tale of animals lying on a pillow ready to be tucked in.  The Princess can do that by flipping over a half sheet of paper that serves as a blanket, and then repeat the process with another adorable animal.  The dialogue is incredibly simple, so perfect for younglings who are starting to read words.  Every animal tuck in has the same dialogue:
Narrator: Who needs to be tucked in?
Baby Whatever: I Do
Narrator: Good night, Baby Whatever.  Who else needs to be tucked in?
If you don't believe me, see the pictures below.  (We'll talk about your trust issues later.)

Although, the story must have been a little tame for the Princess.  I say this as she she has started to add angst-ridden dialogue for the various animal sleepers.  The story now has grown into problems revolving around sleep toys and a rather hungry alligator (who gets "tucked in" on page 7).  And while the story changes on a nightly basis, tonight it went a little something like this:
Narrator:  Who needs to be tucked in?
Baby Pig:  I do!
Narrator:  Good night, Baby Pig.  Do you have you sleep toy?
Baby Pig:  No.
Narrator:  What happened to it?
Baby Pig:  Alligator ate it.
Narrator:  Oh, no.  What did you say to him?
Baby Pig:  I said, "Don't eat my sleep toy!"
Narrator:  And what did Alligator say?
Baby Pig:  Yum.
Narrator:  That's ok, we'll make you another one in the morning.  This time it won't be made out of food.  It will be made from plastic.  Who else needs to be tucked in?
Unfortunately, we do not know why Alligator eats the toys.  It's probably that all the animal's toys are made from a meat-based product.  Or he could just be a jerk.  Whatever the reason, he's been on a tear lately and shows no remorse. 

I do know that a book that used to take 3 minutes to read now takes about 15.  And even though we read it so much that the binding has come loose, the story seems fresh and surprising every single night.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 29 -- What a guy needs

Lately I noticed the word "need" floating around the castle lately.  It's a weird word to notice, since it's usually pretty mundane.  However, with the right context, it conveys an urgency that no other word can substitute itself properly.  For example,. "I'm going to the emergency room," makes you seem like a wuss that can't stand a little blood.  "I need to go to the emergency room," lets everyone know that your liver just fell out one of your orifices.    

In my case, the word mostly comes from the three-year-old child who never wants anything, but needs everything.  For a snack, she needs cheddar bunnies.  She needs to watch the same Phineas and Ferb episode over and over and over and over.  Tonight she needed me to hang myself backwards off the bed so she could slide down me like she was on the playground.  

Every single need ends up life or death with her.  Suggest that she not slide down onto my neck just because she needs to "practice her sliding," and it's a ten decibel scream.  With her reaction, you would think that I just told her that Santa Claus actually hates her or Mickey Mouse had only 10 weeks to live.  Abraham Maslow developeda hierarchy of needs, and unless my psychology professor lied to me, "pouncing on the dog" wasn't on the list.  According to the Princess, though, it is right between breathing and shelter.

I've been told that the child will eventually outgrow these irrational needs.  However, now I'm attune to the word "need" and I see irrational needs all around me.  I did an informal, unscientific assessment of what people need me to do last week, and I have to say, the hope of developing a more sophisticated set of needs doesn't look promising.

Here's just a few things people needed me to do:
  • I need to read this book:  Unless it's a book about getting thinner, younger and richer without getting my fat ass off the couch, I'm pretty sure I don't need to read it.  The only reason you want me to read the book is so I can agree with you on how good/bad it really is.  Basically, you need me to read the book to validate your opinion.
  • I need to buy this product:  I usually only watch commercial TV during sporting events, mainly because I can get most of what I want (bad 80's sitcoms) on Netflix.  With the Superbowl and Winter Olympics on this month, there's a lot of things I now know that I need to buy.  Or do the companies need me to buy their crap so they still have profits?
  • I need to see what x political party is doing to America:  I'm happy humming Funky Town to myself in a perfectly spherical bubble of ignorance.  America is not the most divided it's ever been -- that's the Civil War.  One person cannot burn down the ENTIRE country.  And as far as I know, most people are too busy working to worry about who's screwing who.  It's really the politicians who need me to pay attention so they can get my vote.
  • I need to get on board:  OK, Mom.  I don't even know what method of conveyance I'm supposed to get on.  A luxury liner?  I'm down with that.  A garbage barge?  I think I'll pass.  Why don't you give me a little more information of what you actually want from me?  When I hear this, usually it means that someone me to shut up and let them do whatever they want.
  • I need to take out the garbage:  Yeah, this one's true.  It stinks and I think that it tried to eat the dog earlier today.  I already had the garbage standoff with the Queen early in our marriage, and she's content to stack cans and boxes on the counter until it reaches the sky.  So if I want a clean house, I have to take it out.
I guess we all live with unreasonable needs.  I know every once and a while I need a drink or a new set of titanium golf clubs (*hint, hint*).  Some of us need a day out or a romantic night in.  Almost every day someone tells me that they need a vacation.  Even the Joker in Tim Burton's Batman exclaimed that "This town needs an enema."

And right now, I need to end this post so I can get some sleep.  So I will.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 28 -- The art of saying the wrong thing

I once heard that 96% of all human verbal communication comes from non-conversations.  At least I think I heard that. Maybe I just contrived that percentage.  Could well be, since 86% of all stats are made up.

Whatever the percentage, most of our talking comes with predefined scripts that happen automatically.  For example: when I'm at the store and check out, the cashier should tell me to "Have a nice day."  In which I reply, "You, too."  I don't even have to think of a response; it just happens.  My brain actually hears Charlie Brown's teacher, and issues the generic statement when there's silence.  I know this routine because it happens every single time I go shopping.

Except when some rebellious ne'er-do-well mucks up the whole shopping experience.  I just paid $68.35 for some printer ink and wiper fluid, received my receipt, and ready myself for a hearty "You, too."  But instead of hearing "Have a nice day," I hear, "Thanks for shopping with us."  That's not part of the plan!

My brain already heard the silence and blurted out the "You, too."  But that makes no sense.  She didn't go shopping.  I went shopping.  And even if she did happen to go shopping, it was with me.  "You, too" sounds like she just bought a watch out of my trench coat.  Or, perhaps I'm some crazy man who thinks he's actually the cashier.  What am I doing with her groceries?  And where is her change?

I can't take it back, because she already started ringing up the twenty-seven Power Bars that the dude in back of me needs.  What am I going to say, anyways, that would warrant such an interruption.
"Uh...excuse me miss.  When I said 'You, too,' I thought you said 'Have a nice day.'  In fact you said, 'Thanks for shopping with us.'  These two sentences sound nothing alike, but since I'm such a poor listener, I blurted out something completely nonsensical at the time.  I guess I should have said 'You're welcome' or 'No problem' or something like that, but I didn't.  I just want to clarify my position on the whole conversation thing that just happened.  So...have a nice day?"
That would probably get me escorted out by security.  Or beaten up by the bag boy who thinks he's her boyfriend, even though they've only spoken once outside of work.  Or scowled at by a line of angry shoppers who also can't figure out how to use the U-Check.

Instead, I'll just slink away with my head slumped low and my pride bruised.  I'll try to convince myself that nobody noticed, but I know an awkward silence when I hear it.  We both know what happened, and there's no rectifying it.  That conversation will just have to eat away at me for 37 years until I have an aneurysm in my sleep.

Plausible, since  I hear that 74% of all non-conversational screw-ups lead to death.  At least I think I heard that.

Day 27 -- Remakes that don't suck

If you haven't been aware, Robocop came out this month and disappointed a whole bunch of people.  There the kids who wanted something grittier than a watered down version of Iron Man. There's the folks who can't stand a special effects extravaganza just to pimp a new franchise.  And there's the 80's Robocop purists that believed that nobody should every dare to make a remake of such a perfect gem of a movie.

And, all of them yelling, "Is Hollywood all out of original ideas?  Stop with the remakes!"

But are all remakes bad?  My first answer is "Yes! God, please, stop with the crappy-crap!"  But when you think about it, some remakes are actually enjoyable.  And I'm not talking about making a foreign film into an American film.  We Americans hate subtitles and actors whose names we can't pronounce.  I'm talking about remaking a good Hollywood movie into another good Hollywood movie.

Remakes happen in every genre, and here's some that work:

Gone in 60 Seconds:  I would have gone the Italian Job, but since the original was English, that's still a foreign flick.  Gone isn't the best action flick, but any action film that makes you forget about Nicolas Cage's acting has to be a great remake.  And it made a crap load of money.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Science Fiction has to be the easiest to remake because a.) technology can up the special effect ante and b.) you can really screw with the source material.  I saw this movie as a kid, and Donald Sutherland still freaks the hell out of me.

Ocean's 11:  George Clooney out Rat Packed Sinatra and company.  It's one movie that I watch to the end when I see it on TV.  Unfortunately, it spawned two inferior sequels. 

Romantic Comedy
You've Got Mail:  Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan bicker as a mega-book conglomerate and an independent book store.  I love the way the mega-book store wins without an apology, the unabashed commercial for AOL, and the way people still went to book stores. If it was made today, you would have someone working for bickering with someone from Radio Shack.  Oh, and our wedding song came from that movie.

True Grit:  Love both movies for different reasons.  The original because it's a John Wayne flick, and all John Wayne flicks are awesome.  The remake because Jeff Bridges is excellent.  I don't like any of the main characters, but I'm so interested in what they're doing.  If you do something right for the wrong reasons, does it make it all right?

Romantic Drama
An Affair to Remember:  I actually didn't like Affair, or the original Love Story, or the second remake Love Story.  But Affair to Remember inspired Sleepless in Seattle, which has Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  Is there anything those two can't do (beside Joe Vs. the Volcano).

Little Shop of Horrors:  A weird musical to remake which works wonders and put Rick Moranis on the map.  Annie comes out soon with Jamie Foxx as Daddy Warbucks (renamed Benjamin Stacks).  Hoping more of a Little Shop and less of a Hairspray remake.

There's more, but do your own research.  A remake is no different than any other movie.  It still needs a great script, good actors and a competent director to succeed.  And it doesn't hurt to throw Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in there, too.  They're old, but I still want to believe!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 26 -- Why you should celebrate Valentine's Day

I guess yesterday was supposed to be Valentine's Day, better known as the day where we tell our special someone how much we love them by giving them something pink and fattening.  The day originated when St. Valentine came down and from the clouds and showed the celibate Romans how to party down with some sappy greeting cards, over-priced chocolates and a Barry White CD.  Legend has it that if Valentine's Day happens on a full moon, those crappy chalk-tasting candy hearts will actually cure leprosy.

The Queen and I have a love-ambivalence relationship with the ol' V-Day.  While we like the idea of having a spot where we feel compelled to actually say "I love you," we are too cheap to actually do anything on February 14th.  Instead we generally wait a week or so after Valentine's Day to celebrate our love because chocolates are 75% off, flowers return to regular price, and we can actually get a reservation at a fancy restaurant.  Besides, I'm much more of a Sweetest Day guy.  (That's the one in October of September or somewhere around there, right?)

However, this year we decided to up the ante because we have the child.  For some reason we thought that if we didn't celebrate Valentine's Day "right," she would grow up to be a heartless, mean old lady who despises love in any form.  Without her heart-shaped box of chocolates, she would slip into an endless malaise that triggers a series of events in her adult life:
  • First, she would become a shut in who surrounds herself with oodles and oodles of cats. 
  • But after her nosy neighbor complains of the constant meowing, the health department takes all the cats away leaving her with nothing but festering rage and an electrical mechanical degree from DeVry University.  
  • She then creates the Deloveinator, which will empty the love two people have for each other FOREVER.
  • She'll zap celebrity couple Miley Cirus and Liam Hemsworth....Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones....Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman...(Wait, those two are back together.  It's nice to see.)  Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman it is.
  • The public will witness the tragedy.  And, without the love of Danny and Rhea, the world will fall into deep despair.
  • Valentine's Day will be over.  Hallmark will fold.  Walmart and Target will conspire together to develop a new holiday so it can sell Hating Day hatchets, Hating Day Voodoo dolls, and Hating Day chocolates laced with cyanide.
  • The President of the United States will want to help the sagging economy by partaking in the new tradition and will end up up in jail after poisoning the Queen of England.
I'm not sure if I could live with being the catalyst for regicide, so we bought the Princess a video game (Kinect Animals), a mini heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a card.  She now LOVES Valentine's Day and the world is safe for another year.

As for the Queen and I, we ended up eating chips and salsa in bed watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and were asleep by 11.  Who said romance is dead?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Day 25 -- California makes me sleepy

I live in Ohio, which happens to lie in the Eastern time zone.  I have to work with someone who happens to live in California.  You would think, "No problem.  The internets make all things possible."  That's what I thought.  I was wrong.

Perhaps it's the nature of my work.  Sometimes when you do web work, you get in a habit of doing it on the off hours.  Most days I update websites before nine or after seven, so not to interfere with regular business hours.  I never thought that those in California would also try to avoid high traffic times.  But in their case, they have a three hour lag.

Doing business with someone in Pacific time takes grit, determination and a slide rule.  You can't talk to them in the morning, because 9:00 AM Eastern time equates to 6:00 AM Pacific time, and people don't like coming into the office in the butt crack of dawn.  You might as well sleep in and play video games until lunch.  They ain't coming in until noon. And they're crabby until 2:00 or 3:00 PM.

But they have no problem calling you to work on something at 7:00 PM, right when you're sitting down for a fine dinner of chili and six dollar wine.  Hey, it's only 4:00 PM in the land of sun and mudslides, what are you trying to do?  Spend quality time with your kids?  Get to work, you schmuck!  That's because time code etiquette only work in reverse.  We can do subtraction in time, but addition would blow our minds.

So when you're a web guy and you have to wait for another web guy on the west coast, you're talking about working on stuff between midnight and 2:30 in the morning.  You don't think about that, though, when you start your day.  Time zone math sneaks up on you like a ninja, only pouncing right when you start to pack it in for the night.  "Well, I'm done...CRAP!"

The next day you still have to get up at your usual time, because you don't live in California.  With three or four hours of sleep, the child wakes you up to go to school or something lame like that.  You hoist yourself up, and shuffle to the coffee pot like it's your only hope for salvation.  Unfortunately you forget the cup and the coffee runs over the edge of the counter and fills your slippers with scalding hot liquid.  Better be home from the hospital by dinner, because California doesn't care.

Moral of the story:  time zones ruin feet.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 24 -- An unexpected journey

John Lennon once said that Life is what happens when you're making other plans.  At least it might have been John Lennon.  Perhaps it was Jack Lemmon who said it.  It's late and I don't want to look it up.  Anyways, no matter who said it, they're wrong.

Life doesn't sneak up on you and quietly overtake you.  Instead it winds up like a major league slugger and belts you with an aluminum baseball bat.  Whenever you think you're in a groove, that's when life takes over and slams into you, ricocheting you 180° away from your intended target.  Finding out you're pregnant.  Losing a job.  Getting hitched to an internet bride.  All things that can happen in an instant without any warning.

I think that these events come as a statement from God that we should never be too complacent.  For better or worse, change is inevitable.  It's what makes us grow and prosper as human beings, and what drives most major historical events.  If England didn't suddenly issue crippling taxes and tariffs, would we be in such a hurry to achieve independence?  If Rosa Parks went with the flow, would the civil rights movement have caught fire?  If a bulldozer didn't try to level Arthur Dent's house, would he have ever made it to the End of the Universe?

The television will tell you that you should spend every waking minute preparing for these changes by buying gold or some insurance policy.  Or at least counter-act the changes by suing someone -- anyone.  But that doesn't resolve the issue, it merely gambles on what life changing event will come your way.  Placing a large wager on Cancer only prepares you for one out of infinite possibilities.  Your changing moment could come as Loses Ear in Benihana Accident.  What are you gonna do now?

It's the transitions that really test your mettle, no matter if the change is good or evil.  Stomping around and kicking the cat seems to be a popular option for certain personalities.  Blaming others instead of yourself.  Turning to religion though you've never been to church.  Drinking until you pass out.  Becoming an annoying beacon of energy that lifts up everything you touch.  Baking delicious baked goods.  Or my favorite, giving stuff away to all your friends and neighbors named Jack Grubb.

I personally tend to retreat to nostalgia.  Something goes amiss in my life, and I'm stocking up on my favorite books, like Winnie the Pooh, Catcher in the Rye, and the Harry Potter series.  I tend to hunt down the essential movies like The Natural, Ghostbusters, and The Goonies.  The months before my daughter was born, I had to watch every episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show and Charles in Charge.  Sometimes when I even feel a major change coming on, I still hum a few bars of:
Charles in Charge of our days and our nights,
Charles in Charge of our wrongs and our rights,
And I sing, I want, I want Charles in charge of me...
I'm sure now that I've found the groove as a work at home dad and blogger extraordinaire that something is about to go down.  I've been wearing my official Chicago Bears helmet ready for the blow and have the complete series of The Golden Girls queued up on Netflix.  Hopefully it has nothing to do with clowns.  They freak the hell out of me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 23 -- When it doesn't pay to get out of bed

Last night the Princess exhibited the greatest display of temper tantrum that has ever graced our halls.  She cried.  She wailed.  She hit.  She kicked.  She jumped.  She thrashed.  She rammed into doors.  She disowned me in about 25 ways.  All because she couldn't find the "right" Yoga  Pretzel card.

The fit lasted about 45 minutes, and if she hadn't tired herself out, probably could have gone on another hour.  She was determined to do The Snake yoga pose, but could only find The Cobra pose in her stack of yoga cards.  Trying to explain the a cobra is a snake and therefore they are the same move just made her madder, and before long she was in full Hulk mode.  And, somehow, the whole affair became my fault.

When the Queen and I got drunk enough and thought that it was a good idea to have kids, we were told that the "I hate you" stage wouldn't start until she turned 12 or 13.  "When they're young, they have short fits about things and just cry," they said.  "It's those teenage years you have to worry about."  Well, my kid must be jerkily gifted because she lets me know that I'm not her family about 5 times a day.

Today started started with my loving child climbing into bed and slapping me in the face and telling me to get out of the house.  Then, she tried to dictate what pair of daytime underwear I should go and fetch her while she waited to pass judgement.  Unfortunately for her, these strong-arm tactics haven't worked yet.  The next hour and a half found her screaming at the top of her lungs that I needed to go and find "the right" pair of underwear, bring them to her like a faithful dog, while she waited and watched iPad.

I drank coffee and watched Morning Joe.

Right now, I'm not allowed to work on my computer, sit on the couch, eat with utensils, or talk on the phone.  As someone with a deadline looming and about half of dozen pictures to edit and a Flash movie to compose, my computer is sort of necessary.  As it stands now, my day looks like alternating between punishing meanness and then hugging and talking about better choices.  When you work at home, your schedule usually is dictated by the moods and leaps of your much younger co-workers.

The good news, the Princess has not outlawed dreaming of being alone on a deserted island.  Boy, look at that monkey dance!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 22 -- Kittens and Wine

Last night I went to a fundraiser, because that's what we high society folks do.  During the night, the participants forced me to drink a few glasses of wine.  I didn't want to do it, but it was for the kids, and so I took one for the team.

Unfortunately, when the Queen and I arrived home last night, I was much too tired to write a post.  This morning I'm also much too tired to write a post.  However, I'm not too tired to look at random pictures of kittens. And here they are:

You changed my wireless plan?  I will kill you!

We're adorable!  Give us all your money.  PayPal accepted.

Dear Stay-Puft, about your "cat in every bag" promotion...are they edible?

They would go great with my tabby hot chocolate.

Dear owner, sleep with one eye open tonight.

I hate you dog.

What?  There was a fly on your nose.  And I'm a jerk.

You know, Duck, after this photo shoot, I am going to eat you.

Star Wars, Episode VII.  I think J.J. Abrams is mailing it in.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Day 21 -- Knuffle Bunny: A Wonderful Book

If you haven't caught the picture book series Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems, you should.  Especially if you ever had a special stuffed animal, blanket or crack pipe that was your childhood crutch.  In this picture book trilogy, we see a follow a little girl named Trixie and her stuffed bunny through various stages of life, and get to relive some of our own fond memories in the process.

For those who haven't read the series, here is the quick rundown:

  • Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale: Baby Trixie loses her Knuffle Bunny in one of the washers at the laundromat.  Daddy has to figure out that it's lost by deciphering a babbling tantrum.  He finally does (because Mommy tells him) and they frantically tear the place apart to find it, and Trixie says her first words.  They are not "Thank you."
  • Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity: Pre-K Trixie brings Knuffle Bunny to school, and promptly gets in a fight with Sonja who also brought her own Knuffle Bunny.  The teacher takes both of them away -- like you do -- and then gives them back at the end of the day.  But they were switched by mistake!  It wasn't until 2:00 AM when Trixie notices the problem and makes Daddy get out of bed, call Sonja's parents (who actually call them), and rush through New York City to Central Park to swap bunnies with Sonja.  The feel good moment happens when nobody gets mugged.
  • Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion: Little girl Trixie goes to Holland with her parents to see her Oma and Opa.  She mistakenly leaves Knuffle Bunny on the plane and realizes it after the plane is en route to for China.  The trip does not go well until Trixie dreams of a mystical stuffed rabbit that makes all the boys and girls in the world happy.  Then when she leaves to fly back to the America, she finds Knuffle Bunny in the seat pocket!  She ends up giving it to a crying baby sitting behind her because she realizes she's old enough, and a 12 hour flight with a crying baby would ultimately suck.
These three books are a godsend for more then a few reasons.  First, these seem to be books that we can read throughout her childhood.  The pictures are fantastic and combine photography with hand-drawn illustrations.  The story is funny without being ridiculous, and the complexity of the story grows as Trixie ages.  The Princess has every line memorized, so now we "read" the stories together, as I'm the narrator and Daddy and she plays Trixie.

But more than that, these books bring back fond memories of my own childhood that I don't get to relive that much.   I had a stuffed dog, aptly named Doggy, that I carried around with me until I reached first grade.  Anytime that I was frightened or sad or whatever, I would put him in a Hulk hug that would kill a mortal dog. And since I had an older sister who liked to "help" me do everything, I was frightened pretty much all the time.  Poor Doggy had his neck sewn up so much he couldn't turn his head.

Most children's books get harder to stomach the more times you read them.  I have even devised a subtle speed-up mode so that we're busting through pages in five minutes or less.  Some books are less painful and tend to have at least some lasting power.  But few can actually be as moving for you as they are for your kids, all on a different level.

I would say that the Knuffle Bunny series is the Toy Story 3 of picture books.  Anyone who seen Toy Story 3 knows exactly what I'm talking about.  Enough said.

Day 20 -- Sochi, so what

Hey, did you know that the Winter Olympics started today?  Neither did I, until I heard the familiar Olympic theme song after Jeopardy ended.  I look up, and there was good ol' Bob Costas sitting at a familiar anchor desk about to announce the preliminary events we would witness tonight.  Unfortunately, he looks like he just came down with a case of Popeye eye.

Well, blow me down! Arrg guh-guh-guh-guh!
According to Mr. Costas, he woke up with his eye swollen shut and "as red as the former Soviet flag."  Hopefully the thing is minor and he can get back to wearing his contacts, or even some more stylish glasses.  My theory is that he got some of the Sochi water in his eye.  Evidentially, that's a problem, as described by Chicago Tribune reporter Stacy St. Claire:

It seems that Russian host city, Sochi, couldn't quite fix itself up in time for the Olympic games.  This despite seven-years and a $50 billion price tag.   Water seems to have a interesting hue:

Stacy St. Clair's water after it was "fixed"

Toilets have been interestingly constructed:

Standing ovation!

The provided bin

Sochi is for lovers

With interesting signage:

No fishing!  Oh, come on!
Streets aren't paved.  Stray dogs abound (currently being rounded up and slaughtered because they are "biological trash").  And entire hotel rooms haven't been finished.  But don't worry, the games officially start tomorrow and everything should be fine then.  Just ask them. (You should be able to make contact by just powering on your phone.)  According to ABC News, every type of communication is being tapped for "security reasons."

If this isn't the most exciting games on the ice, it definitely will be the most exciting plumbing experience.  Need more Sochi Problems?  Follow @sochiproblems on Twitter.  At least it will be good for a laugh.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 19 -- Weather One-Up

It snowed today.  Again.  And the schools were closed.  Again.  And the entire family was stuck in the house.  Again.  And I got weather one-upped.  Again.

Weather one-upping happens when you live in one part of the country and experience crappy weather.  When you complain about said crappy weather, someone from another part of the country tells you how much worse their weather is.   For instance, last week I posted a note on Facebook to let God know that we in Ohio would like it to stop snowing, and sure enough, several people in Chicago had to tell me about how much more it snowed there.  Bam!  One-upped and nothing you can do about it.

It's not like you can bitch about being one-upped, because while I may feel unhappy with five inches of snow and 3° temperature, they're sitting around with 17 inches of snow and -17° temperature.  That's like complaining that you lost your wallet to someone who was on the losing end of a Ponzi scheme.  You just take it, put it in the mental bank, and save up the rage.  You will have a worse weather day, someday, and then you can collect.

Because, we all weather one-up at some point or another.  Perhaps your annoying uncle keeps posting beautiful sunsets from  Florida and complains about the frost warning they have tonight.  You're instinctively going to let him know that while it's too bad that he has to turn on the heat, you have to scrape ice off the inside of your windows.  What a jerk he is anyways, prattling on like that.  Doesn't he know how good he has it?

Sometimes we even weather one-up our friends and family who live in close proximity.  Does this statement seem familiar: "I can't believe that little Suzie doesn't have school today.  When I was a kid in Buffalo, we consistently had over sixteen feet of snow and we never cancelled school."  I'm just using Suzie and Buffalo and sixteen inches of snow as examples, mind you.  I don't actually think you said those exact words.  But I'm sure it was something similar that was equally as one-uppity.

Just remember as you weather one-up someone, there's another person living in a crappier climate waiting to one-up you.  Farmers in Indiana will one-up Mississippians.  Cheeseheads in Green Bay one-ups Hoosiers.  Sheriffs in Fargo, North Dakota make fun of Facebook statuses from Green Bay.  Mounties in Manitoba text pictures of thermometers to Fargo.  Loggers in Juneau call Manitoba a bunch of wusses.  And penguins in Antarctica make harassing phone calls to Juneau.  Even Santa takes a little jab at Antarctica every once and a while.

So before you hit send on that comment that weather one-ups a snowed-in blog writer from Ohio, just know that Santa can one-up the hell out of you.  We all need warm thoughts this winter and not a who's-colder-than-who frozen pissing contest.  Remember that we're all in this together.

However, if some jerk tries to reverse weather one-up you and tells you how warm they are in Miami while you're busy shoveling a tunnel to your mailbox, then by all means give both barrels.  Those d-bags deserve everything you can dish out!

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 18 -- The ghost with poor bladder control

If anyone is expecting to come over to our house after tomorrow to possibly bring over some pie or something, save yourself a trip.  I have decided to move out of the house and either put it up for auction and sell it to the highest bidder, or burn it down to the studs.*  I don't really know where our family will live (hint, hint), but we have a large SUV that possibly could work for a week or two.

The reason for the sudden eviction comes from a horrible invasion of an incontinent ghost.  It seems that although this house was built in 2008 and there's no evidence of an Indian burial ground, a specter has still decided to appear and make it's home in our home.  At first I couldn't believe it and accused Old Man Smithers who owned the abandoned amusement park.  But after so many strange occurrences over the past few weeks, I'm convinced it's a ghost with poor bladder control.

As I write this our guest room toilet is in the middle of a flush, with no living person using it.  That's right, for no earthly reason, our toilet just flushes.  I began to notice the phantom flushing when I was sitting in the family room and out of the blue came a big whooshing sound.  I looked around and counted the family members in the room and came up with three.  I was fairly certain some homeless guy didn't break into my guest bathroom just to use the john, but I let it go since I never heard it before.

Then two days later it happened again.  Then it became more frequent.  Now it seems that about every other hour, the thing drains itself.  I tried to be rational about it and look for a pattern: perhaps it goes off when someone else uses the toilet, or when the heat pump runs.  But just when I think I have it nailed down, the pattern changes or it flushes when nothing else it happening. 

The internets tell me that it's either some air is in the wet vent (whatever that means), or that the flapper needs to be changed.  However, I pretty sure we don't have a 1920's woman who shows disdain for conventional dress and behavior living in our toilet, so the only other conclusion is the ghost.  Besides, there are other reasons to believe that a ghost haunts our house:
  • The pillows get torn up when we leave the house.  The dogs swears that it isn't him.  I lean towards his version, because every time I show him the tattered pillow he runs and hides under the bed.  Anyone that afraid of a pillow couldn't possible shed it to smithereens.
  • Toys get scattered all over the floor without reason.  Every day the Princess tells me that she can't pick up the messes because she didn't make them.  She also doesn't know who made them, even if the mess maker did seem to have fun.
  • My phone moves around to strange places.  Evidently the spirit likes to pull some pranks.  My phone should live on the kitchen counter, right next to the charging cords.  But every now and then I have a hard time locating the damn thing.  I've found it in my coat pocket, various drawers, the washer, the dryer, on top of the stacked washer dryer, the car glove compartment, the Princess's Doc McStuffin's play house, under the bed, in the outside trash can, and in the Queen's briefcase.  Enough is enough, I have important calls to make. to play Angry Birds.
  • The beer is missing.  I'm sure I'd remember drinking it.  My pants are also missing.
I probably could live with Sir Haunts-a-Lot and his antics if not for the whole bathroom thing.  It's not even that the constant flushing wastes our precious natural resources (although I'm kinda pissed about the water bill).  But every time he flushes that toilet, it makes me need to go to the bathroom -- a Pavlovian peeing trigger, if you will.  I have to drink about a gallon of water every two hours just to keep up with it.

So, take the house, pillows, and beer.  At least I will keep my bladder!


Editors Note: Please disregard any mention of burning down the house.  Especially the fire inspector.  All fires have spontaneously risen and/or are set by ghosts who happen to give expensive gifts for everyone willing to "look the other way."

Monday, February 3, 2014

Day 17 -- The repost

For today, I'm going to repost my very first post on Losing the Internets.  Is this cheating by submitting something I already wrote?  Totally.  But only 10 people read if a post is never ready, wouldn't it be new?  Yeah, chew on that a while.


I thought long and hard about this last night--about 15 minutes--and I came to an epiphany.  My favorite genres of movie watching all involve superheroes.  As far as epiphanies go, it may not seem monumental. Thirty-two days ago I  had the divine inspiration that I like my tea cold rather than hot (and unsweetened. I'm not all, "This tea is great. Now lets drown out the tea taste with a crap load of sugar.").  And last night, superheroes movies rock my world.

If you asked me this same question three night ago, I would have waffled between zany comedies and animated films.  But when I take an honest look at myself, the last "zany" comedy I saw and actually enjoyed was Superbad.  The rest were OK, but not "buy the DVD" good.  And animated film, well, I'm 36 and having cartoons being my favorite is weird.  On the scale of weird, its "I'm going to stand over here" weird, not "You know you can't live by a park or school" weird, but still weird nevertheless.

I think I like superhero movies, especially most modern takes on superpowers, because filmmakers are now focusing on people dealing with superpowers instead of superpowered people.  What's the difference?  I'll answer that question with a question.  Is Clark Kent a reporter who happens to become Superman to save people, or is Superman a hero who happens to become Clark Kent to blend in to society?

It's more interesting when Clark Kent plays Superman or Tony Stark plays Iron Man.  I'd much rather see characters try to balance their "real" lives with saving the world.  Personally, I think it would be awfully stressful to have that much power in the palm of your hand, and I get bored when I watch people handle god-like power flawlessly.  So, why the Hulk kicking the crap out of Loki makes me cheer, the real highlights were when Bruce Banner, Chris Evans and Tony Stark argued about everything.

Most good (Hear that Green Lantern!) modern superhero movies tend to skew more to the mortal than the mask.  Except for Chris Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. Batman sits front and center and Bruce Wayne plays a supporting role. Bruce doesn't seem to have any complex motivations or development except to fund Batman.  I watched the Dark Knight for the first time last week and while Ledger's Joker rocked, Bale's Bruce fell flat.  Every single scene of his as Bruce Wayne featured exposition as how he would act as Batman.  Whether to build a better suit or pose as a distraction to extradite a mob accountant, Batman only used the Bruce Wayne as a tool for his purposes, and not the other way around.  Interestingly, Michael Keaton's rendition of Batman seemed to let Bruce use the Bat.

Now, if we could get a super-villain movie that showed some altruistic reasons for their villainy. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Day 16 -- A Note to Kroger

Dear Kroger,

Thank you for an exercise in futility during my shopping experience.  I thought that perhaps finding healthy food should be quick and enjoyable, but boy was I wrong.  Now I know the pleasure of hunting through a dirty, ramshackle grocery store for an hour trying to track down anything without preservatives.  Thank goodness you haven't updated the store since 1974, or I may have to question where that disco-era beef broth came from.

It's also really nice of you to pre-brown all your bananas.  I always have one or two pieces of fruit that I either have to throw away or freeze for bread-making purposes, but I never thought of buying them already rotten.  That saved my already fragile system from those pesky nutrients and antioxidants.  Without your help, my daughter may not achieve her personal goal of type II diabetes.

I was almost tempted to pick up something made from non-gmo grains, but luckily your natural and organic section consisted of one aisle the size of my dining room table.  I am impressed with your selection in such a small area, and I bought all three items.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that much organic tartar sauce, but I'm sure it will be something.

Unfortunately I couldn't buy any of your meat, given the Queen's allergy to cow steroids, but I wish I could.  Pink meat seems played out and I enjoyed the wide range of browns and greys.  It's also a bold move, but a wise one, to avoid having any boneless chicken breasts.  In the future, I would get rid of all chicken if you could.  Those birds scare the hell out of me.  They're just one evolution turn away from a Cockatrice.  I applaud your stand against mythical hybrid monsters.

The only thing I would have to complain about today is that it's kinda hard to move around your store.  It's not those super narrow aisles, they're so homey.  And I even like the way that items are classified.  So few stores employ the Drunken Decimal System, and having three places where I can find juice helps my juice buying needs.  However, the problem comes when trying to navigate the swarms of people on cell phones.  They just stand there looking dumbfounded at the shelves uttering the same phrase to whoever is on the other end.  "They don't have it," rings out from all these poor souls like a desperate funeral dirge.

I'm not too sure what you have against small towns, not that a county seat of 40,000 is that small.  I understand that you all at Kroger corporate are busy building your really nice stores right across the street from a Whole Foods, but we in the "sticks." would like some love, too.  I hope one day you'll realize that with a little bit of investment, you could rule these markets.  It may just be a rumor, but I hear that medium and small towns also like to eat healthy and if a supermarket chain paid one tenth the attention they do to a bigger city, then they most likely would rule the area.

Or perhaps your whole aim is to keep us fat and stupid.  After all, we're just a bunch of farmers and factory workers.  We really should be happy to have a store at all.  We all are probably unreasonable to want something updated to the 21st century.  Who do we think we are?  The Rockefellers?  I'm sure you just have our best interest at heart, and by no means have a faulty forecasting model that favors more urban areas.  It's not like the grocery business is hurting financially.

Anyways, keep on what you're doing.  Which is nothing.

                                                                                                                                                     Your friend,


P.S.  Are you still coming over for our Valentine's Day dinner?  Don't worry, I'll bring the food.

Day 15 -- Telling a story

Not much of an introduction here.  I'm tired and have been hit in the head by a three-year-old flailing around with a Princess Sophia figurine like it's a sock full of butter.  So, instead I'm going to give you my nightly story ritual that I tell the Princess every night as she "lies" in bed ready for sleep.

Daddy: OK, what Princess story do you want tonight?

Princess: The one where she can't fall asleep!

Daddy: All right.  One night after a long day of playing...

Princess: NO!  The one where she goes to school!

Daddy: All right. One day the Princess woke up extra early...

Princess:  NO! The one where she goes to school!

Daddy: This is the one where she goes to school.

Princess:  Oh. OK.

Daddy: One day the Princess woke up extra early and got out of bed to brush her teeth and go potty...

Princess: I don't have to go potty.

Daddy: No one's saying you have to....

Princess: But I don't have to.

Daddy: I know.

Princess: Daddy.  Tell.  The.  Story.

Daddy:  One day the Princess woke up extra early and did all the stuff she was supposed to do in the morning.  Then she woke up her Daddy...

Princess:  Did she jump on him?

Daddy:  Sure.  She woke up her Daddy by jumping on him.  "It's time for school!" she yelled.

Princess:  <squeals with delight>

Daddy:  Shhh...lie down and listen.  You're supposed to be getting sleepy.  Now, Daddy got up and looked at the clock and said, "Princess, it's only 6:39.  We don't leave until 8:00."  So the Princess waits...

Princess:  Daddy.  Is it today?

Daddy:  Well, yes.  Tonight, actually.

Princess:  Is is tomorrow? 

Daddy:  No.  In the morning it will be tomorrow.  So the Princes waits and...

Princess:  Is tomorrow going to be today?

Daddy:  Wait?  What?  Sure.  So the Princess waits and waits and waits until it's finally time for school.  The her Daddy gets her in the car...

Princess: <starts babbling incoherently>

Daddy: Princess, are you listening or are we done?

Princess:  Daddy, Joey takes toys.

Daddy: OK

Princess:  What does Joey say?

Daddy: I don't know.  Um, give me that toy.

Princess: No!  You're supposed to say <yells> "Give me that toy!"

Daddy:  OK, now lie down.  Then Daddy gets her into the car.

Princess: No!  Say, "Give me that toy!"

Daddy:  Give me that toy.

Princess:  YOU SAID IT!

Daddy: OK.  Now lay down.  Daddy gets her into the car and drives her to school.  The end.

Princess:  Epilogue!

Daddy:  I'm glad we taught you that word.  At school she plays with toys and learns some stuff and eats lunch.  The end.

Princess:  Epilogue 2!

Daddy:  <sigh> Um, then she plays some more...

Princess: With Jenny?

Daddy:  Yes, and Lindsay and Hiram, and Silas, and Hudsyn, and everyone, and they all had a great time until her Daddy picks her up and they go home.  The End.

Princess:  Epilogue 3!

Daddy:  Then they get dinner and then go to sleep.  The End.

Princess:  Good night, Daddy.  Go to bed.

Daddy:  Good night, Princess.  I love you.

Princess:  I love you, too.

Daddy: <turns to leave>

Princess:  Now, go get Mommy.

End scene.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Day 14 -- 10 reasons why I love my wife

It's hit day 14 and clearly we've hit the doldrums.  I ask myself two or three times a day if I have a topic to write about tonight.  The Princess wants me to write about Valentine's Day (too soon) or flowers (sure).  The Queen wants me to write about the book Allegiant, which I only finished half of because it had to go back to the library.  I could write about how mediocre I felt the book was to that point, but that's probably not fair.  I also could write about how Veronica Roth is from my hometown, but besides that statement, I have nothing to say.

I think the problem is that while this marathon of writing can get overwhelming for both author and reader -- the stats show that viewership is way down -- the bigger source of writer's block comes when I put off writing something I want to.  You must understand, though, that the Queen values her privacy.  Any mention of her in my posts generally gets redacted by the editor's pen, and then thrown into the fire.  I've lost more good computers that way (and strangely a microwave).

So this post may be seen as one, big red line, but here it goes:

10 Reasons Why I Love My Wife

1.) She lets me go to Gen Con.  If you don't know the splendor of Gen Con, then all I can say is that it resembles a 4-day Super Bowl type event for table top gaming.  the thing is that she doesn't just let me go year after year, but she endures the residual effect.  My brother-in-laws, who also go, and I talk about it a lot.  There's planning, reminiscing, and inside jokes that haunt most of our conversations.  It's not just 4 days in August, it's a state of mind.  And she takes it like a champ.

2.) She cute when she's obsessive.  When she gets into a hobby or health faze, she's all in.  Right now the Queen likes Young Adult fiction, especially when they have a dystopian bent.  In two weeks, she may have read 6,297 YA (as she tells me) books from pretty much anyone who can pick up a pen.  Luckily I turned her on to Overdrive, and she just checks out the books via the iPad.  Although, I think I caught her yesterday trying to read in the shower.

3.) She changes subjects without warning.  One moment we're talking about puppies, and how cute it is when they dream bark, and then she interrupts with a question about if I completed the taxes yet.  Then before I can answer, she's wondering if we watched all the Chuck's on Netflix.  These types of conversation leaps really keep you on your toes. 

4.) She gets obscure television quotes in everyday conversation.  I have a horrible habit of remembering a lot of crap, but forgetting things like my own birthday (true story).  Most of my memory cells have been claimed by television and movies that I've seen.  At any time I can belt out with a "When will Detroit make a sunroof for the husky gentleman?" or "And you want to be my latex salesman?"  Sometimes I can even pull a "My mother hit me once...once." and she instantly knows that it's from Johnny Dangerously.  She just gets me.

5.) She bought me a Love Händel T-shirt for Disney World.  Love Händel is the fictitious band on Phineas and Ferb, which is a cartoon on the Disney Channel.  They don't make a Love Händel T-shirt, yet she got one for me.  She's a sorceress.  A beautiful sorceress.

6.)  She stays up late to edit my horrible writing.  The only time I can write without being hijacked by a three-year-old Princess is after 10 pm.  When I'm finished hen-pecking away my keyboard, usually anywhere between midnight and 1 am, she's right there next to me.  I just hand her the keyboard and wait for the "What the hell are you trying to say" questions.  Did I ever mention that I can't spell?

7.)  She loves bad jokes.  Her favorite joke of all time goes like this:  A panda walks into a bar, walks up to the bartender, eats a sandwich, shoots the bartender, and walks out.  An onlooker turns to his friend and says, "What the hell was that?"  His friend says nonchalantly, "He's a panda.  He eats, shoots, and leaves."  NOTE: By the time you read this, the joke will be corrected since it's a grammar joke.

8.) She's incredibly impatient.  I would tell you more, but she wants me to finish so she can go to bed.

9.) She is an overachiever.  Job.  Check.  Working on her PhD.  Check.  Awesome, involved mom.  Check plus!  Most of the time she's doing six or seven things at a time, but still makes it look seamless.  And when she reads this, she'll just say, "I don't think I do all these well," because that's how she rolls. 

10.) It's almost eighteen years since we met, and she's still talking to me.  You may not think this constitutes as a big deal, but it does.  Most of the time, I am an annoying nerd that speaks in pop culture references from the 1990's.  I work from home, rarely shave, and frequently crack my knuckles.  Everyday I do something so stupid, that even I am amazed in my feats.  Today I threw away my phone in the outside garbage can by mistake, just because, and she found it for me.  Tomorrow I may burn down the house by accidentally melting the vacuum cord on the stove, and she will still love me.  Her love makes me love her more.

There you have it.  As sappy as I get.  I wonder if this means I can forget Valentine's Day, because I probably will anyway.  Actually I won't.  I'll just hide her present in the safest place I can't remember.