Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Toasts- Wine and Friendship

Yesterday my wife and I were getting a gift package ready for some friends, and one of the presents was a wine journal.  We wanted to write a nice quote about wine and friendship, and while Google provided ample results to our search, none sufficed, so I made up several of my own: 

The vine begets the grape
The grape begets the wine
Our friends be gettin’ glasses
And I be fillin’ mine

#

With our friends we raise our glasses,
And watch another New Year’s pass us
Uncork the wine, my lads and lasses
And we'll get drunk off all our asses

#

Friends and wine go hand-in-hand
Or glass-in-hand, as it may be
I really can’t tell right now
For I’m so drunk I see in threes

#

We count our blessings
For our friends
And toast until
The bottle ends

#

Fine wine is to be cherished
Like a friend’s familiar face
So let us gaze upon each other
And have wine brought by the case

#


Let’s raise our glasses, raise them high
Another year has passed us by
And once the bottoms reach the sky
Fill them again so they won’t dry

#


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Hairy Situation

I've decided to grow a beard.  Like many of the finer endeavors of my life, it was my wife's encouraging that spurred this decision.  It was not taken lightly.  For me, growing a beard is wrought with challenges.

First is the general patchiness of my facial hair.  That's why my first shot at facial hair was limited to a mustache and goatee.  I'm proud to say that over many years, this patchiness has evened out.  Mostly.

The real issue is my shaved head.  I let the hair on my head grow for a full week when I first started Project Beard (NOTE: one of these times I'm gonna misspell beard as bread.  I just know it. And spellchecker won't catch stuff like that.)  I studied the growth - and lack thereof - and remembered why I started shaving my head to begin with.  Chia-pets are not attractive, not matter how awesome they look in the commercial.

So now I have hair on my cheeks, and a sudden transition to nothingness at the top of the sideburns.  My goal is to ease the suddenness of that transition. My wife encouraged me to Google pictures of Chris Daughtry.  I think it is cool that I can get compared to him, because he's rich and famous and good-looking, and I'm just bald, too.  But I don't want to look just like him, because I'm a decade-and-a-half older than he is and I will come across as a poser (NOTE: 1987 called and it wants the word "poser" back).

For now I have a solution that I convinced myself is decent:

A hat.

Ha ha!  Just kidding.  But seriously, maintaining this look requires a skill and/or patience that I don't have.  Or at least, if I do have it, it has yet to fully manifest itself.  It's a lot easier to clear-cut a whole cheek than to gently taper the point as it rounds the top of the ear.  Trust me on that one.

But for now my wife likes my bread, so I'm keeping at it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rudy Toot-Toot Goes to School

Last week my older son came home from school and told me his teacher wanted me to email her.  Fearing the worst, I pressed for clarification.

"I told her you write books and she said you can come and read one to us," he said. 

Interesting.  Not knowing what he really told her, or what she really said, I took it upon myself to email his teacher and clarify my status as "someone who writes books."  I explained:

My son Max told me that you were interested in having me read one of my books to your class.  I would love to, but let me clarify where I am in my writing career.  I have attached the manuscript for one of my books so you can give it a glance first.

I wrote a chapter book, RUDY TOOT-TOOT, that a literary agent has submitted to several major publishing houses.  I don't have an offer on it yet, but I'm hopeful one will come...

 
RUDY TOOT-TOOT is a 16,500-word (75 page) chapter book. Rudy has a special power, almost like a superhero: he can fart.  It comes natural when you're born on a bean farm.  His talent often gets him in trouble.  After one monstrous emission scares all the customers away from the Toot-Toot family bean market and the bank threatens to take away their home, Rudy must find a way to use his power to lure the
customers back.  As Papa always told him, "There's a right time and a right place for everything."

Un-phased by the premise of farting, she still invited me into her classroom to read to the kids.  She even invited the school librarian.

I love reading to kids.  I have a background in theater and a good amount of experience in public speaking.  Plus I'm totally immature, so I can connect with them on that critical level.

I read the first 23 pages of RUDY TOOT-TOOT to the class.  I had them laughing out loud on page one, and kept their interest until I finished the excerpt.  I left them wanting more.

That was cool, but not as cool as what happened next...

When my son got home from school, he handed me a sheet of paper.  "Ethan wants you to publish this for him," he said, like it's that easy.  I mean, I made it clear I haven't been able to get my own books published...

Ethan wrote a page-and-a-half continuation of my story.  It is one of the coolest things I've ever read.  I emailed my son's teacher to see if she gave them an assignment to write about my story.  She didn't.  He wrote it in his free writing time.  She also said I inspired several of her "non-writers" to write stories.

I never knew how to define success as a writer, until now.  It's not about money, or being a bestseller, or even being represented by an agent or published.  It's about that connection to a reader, and having the ability to make an impact on someone's life.

I am glad to say I succeeded on that level.  It doesn't kill my dreams of actually being a best-selling author, but somehow it makes that part less important. 

I've been invited back to the class to finish the book.  It will probably take two more sessions.  The kids are really looking forward to it...but not half as much as I am.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Evolution of a Bike Ride

We bought our bikes soon after my first son was born.  My wife and I got matching Giant cross-road bikes, ones that would be comfortable for a long ride down a paved path, but could also bounce along off-road.  We also bought a co-pilot seat and helmet for our son, and a rack for the mini-van.  (NOTE:  Dude seriously, a mini-van?  You are soo cool.)

When we got home I attached a wire frame to the rear of my bike and slid the co-pilot seat onto it.  We were set.  Many of the rides in those early days were along paved trails.  Being new parents, we were totally paranoid about riding on the open roads with our baby.  Even in the neighborhood.  We eventually conquered our fears, and whether the rides were short jaunts to a neighborhood playground or several miles of pathway at a local park, we got good use out of our bikes.

Later my son got a bike of his own, and it worked for the rides in the neighborhood, but for summer trips to Hilton Head or rides along the river he still sat in the co-pilot seat.

Then his brother was born, and there was an issue with seating capacity.  It all worked out, though.   Right around the time my second son was able to ride comfortably in the co-pilot seat, a friend sold me one of those attachments to turn a regular bike into a tandem.  Since the co-pilot frame was attached to my bike, my wife’s bike became the tandem, and my older son was just big enough to ride it.  We could still go out as a duo, each with a child in tow.

Then my older son grew big enough to ride on his own and we hit the trails as a trio.  When my younger son was finally big enough to ride the tandem I retired the co-pilot seat to its hook on the garage wall.  I didn’t bother to take the frame off the back of my bike, mainly out of laziness, a quality in which I am abundant, but also out of foreshadowing, which you will understand in the next paragraph, so please read on…

This year my younger son was finally big enough to ride his own bike, and our trio became a foursome.  We took our bikes to Hilton Head this summer and rode them to the beach every day.  I found a way to strap two boogie boards together, and attach them to – you’ll never guess – the co-pilot frame.  We bought new beach chairs that had straps so we could wear them like backpacks, and each chair had a small cooler-pouch and a pouch for books / magazines.  Our beach umbrella came in a sack that I could sling across my chest like a bandolier, and my older son wore a backpack with our beach toys.  We didn’t have to hunt for parking spots, or get the car (okay, mini-van) sandy and salty.  We were the mark of efficiency.

We have a BMX park nearby home, and both boys are big enough to ride the course, something I really enjoy doing with them.  We still go on long rides, there are several trails that cross town, each with a number of parks along the way.  Nowadays our rides are slow paced…they must be, so the young one can keep up.  But I have a feeling that our rides will soon evolve again, and both boys will be able to keep up with us.

And then…then my wife and I will start to slow down, and the boys will pull ahead.  We’ll be the ones struggling to keep up.  The kids will be turning back to us, impatiently telling us to keep moving, pedal, don’t stop, this was your idea…after all, we’ve said the same things to them enough times.

But you know what?  As long as we’re still riding together, I don’t mind.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Got Milk? Bugs Found in Baby Formula

Abbott recalls baby formula.

Help! Everything's gone Helter Skelter. Imagine, a Beatle in the formula. Yesterday was just A Day in the Life for Abbott, but now the have to Carry That Weight, the media just won't Let It Be. Infants can't quit formula Cold Turkey, you know, we would see babies detoxing Here, There, and Everywhere. We need to Come Together and find a solution, not start a Revolution. We Can Work it Out.

The End.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On the Loss of a Good Friend

Yesterday morning my phone rang with bad news: my friend Mark passed away over the weekend.

I knew someday I would get this call.  I haven't spoken with Mark directly for many years, and the recent news I heard of him was rarely positive.  Back in the days at OSU, we all partied pretty hard.  Mark never stopped.  In recent years he accelerated.

Mark had been a roommate, a co-worker, and a good friend; I'd go so far as to call him a brother.  Not having been there to witness his indulgences in the latter years of his life, I spent the afternoon inundated with memories of the times we shared.

Like the time he was eating Chinese food, and he gave me a bite.  I had never eaten Chinese food before.  "Rick, you like hot stuff, don't you?" he asked.  Of course I did.  "Try this."

He gave me the pepper from his General Tso's chicken.  The little peppers that you aren't supposed to eat.  The infernal little buggers that make food hot by just being in the same room.  Not knowing any of this, I popped the pepper in my mouth and bit down.  It was like chewing rope.  I munched harder.  If he could eat one, I could eat one.  Seeds flowed through my mouth, and apparently they were holding blowtorches.  The sound of a steam whistle filled the room as smoke billowed from my ears.  I ran to the trash can and spit the pepper out, knowing it could cause all the garbage to spontaneously combust but not caring.  I didn't curse at Mark or anything, because it hurt too much to breath.  Good times.

I'm not the world's fastest learner, so it should not come as a surprise to you that several years later there was a near-repeat occurrence.  I happened on Mark enjoying Asian cuisine again - this time sushi - and he offered me a bite.  Of wasabi.  "You'll like it, it's like guacamole," he assured me, and even used a tortilla chip to scoop up a generous portion. I don't think I ever ate off his plate again after that.

We went on a road trip once.  We were going to meet some of Mark's old friends in North Carolina to go camping.  We had no real time line and no real agenda, though.  Mark came home from work the day before we were going to leave.  "Do you want to go see the H.O.R.D.E festival?"

"Where is it?"

"Cumberland, Maryland.  We have to leave right now if you want to go."

Ahh, those were the days when you could just pack up and take off for a week on a whim.  We drove through the night and kicked off our road trip with some amazing music.  There are many stories I could tell from that trip, but two stand out in my mind, and the rest are probably incriminating...

At one point we were driving around Virgina rather aimlessly.  We were somewhere outside of Richmond when we both ran out of cigarettes.  Miles of highway passed beneath us as we searched for an exit so we could buy more.  We were both engulfed in hardcore nicotine withdrawal when we saw something up ahead.  A giant pillar, a hundred feet high.  Too small to be a building.  As we closed in on it we could read the black letters against the red and white background: MARLBORO.

Yes, it was their manufacturing plant.  This fit in perfectly with our agenda-less travel plans.  We stopped and took the free tour.  And at the end of the tour, we each got a free pack of cigarettes.  In times of sadness and loss it is important to remember that sometimes fate smiles on us all.  Just hold on and keep heading down the road.

(NOTE: That plant makes enough cigarettes in 2 1/2 minutes to reach from Richmond, VA to San Francisco, CA if they were laid end to end.  That's an impressive amount of cancer.  It's even more impressive that I actually remember that fact.  Also worth noting, I quit smoking many years ago, the day after my bachelor party.  No patches, pills, or special gum.  I used the only thing that really works: will-power.)

Later, on the way home, we were driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Mark was behind the wheel.  A light rain was falling.  We were both tired; neither of us spoke.  I saw something in the road ahead, lying in the middle of our lane.  As we got closer, I could see that it was a puppy, perhaps a beagle.  Its eyes were open, and I looked right into them as Mark drove over the dog's lifeless body, careful not to hit it.

Several minutes passed in silence.  I turned to Mark.  "Are you still thinking about that puppy?"

He nodded.  Several more minutes passed in silence, both of us contemplating life, death, and how cute puppies can be.  And regardless of circumstances brought that puppy to its end - lying in the road, in the rain - it looked peaceful.

Mark, wherever you are, I hope you also found peace.

And I'm still thinking about that puppy, too.

#

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Some Thoughts...

Thought at 10:30 pm: Why certainly I would like another glass of wine.

Thought at 6:00 am: Please stop thinking at 10:30 pm.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Last Day of Vacation


My artwork from yesterday's trip to the beach. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading the Waves

I was at the beach yesterday, standing waist-deep in the water and watching the surf roll in.  I had my eyes trained a hundred yards out, reading the waves and waiting for the best one so I could body-surf back to shore.

As each wave approached I evaluated it.  How big was it?  When was it going to break?  These were my two most important criteria.  If it broke too early, it would be ideal for someone a little further out, but I wouldn't get the same push from it.  If it broke too late those closer to shore would get a great ride but I would be left behind, floating in its wake.  The small waves were great for the kids, but I wanted a big wave. 

Some of the big waves broke at the right distance, but I didn't ride them.  You see, a wave doesn't span the whole beach; one wave is roughly twenty yards wide.  It has an arc, and it breaks best in the center.  If you are too far to the side it breaks later and smaller.  Some waves had a perfect arc for the people to my left or right, they just weren't right for me, so I let them pass on by.

I looked out into the ocean and kept reading.  Earlier in the day I had read the waves from afar - I used the tide clock.  The peak of low tide was the perfect time to go for a run, the long expanse of hard-packed sand made for an ideal track.  But at high tide, there was no room to run.  As the ocean pushed its way on shore the waves got bigger, and the beach, in turn, got smaller. 

I kept reading the waves.  A big one came at me.  It had a perfect arc, was just the right size, and I was right in front of the break point.  I turned and swam and water bubbled around me as the wave pushed me.  I accelerated until my belly scraped the sand and drug me to a halt.  I stood and looked back toward the ocean.  More big waves on the way.  I ran back out and caught three more good rides before the surf settled back down.  Then I waited for the next round.  A few minutes the big waves returned.  The waves come in waves, you know.

My kids played in the waves, too.  My older son was on his boogie board.  He wanted to ride the bigger waves.  He could stay on the board but he needed help getting started, so I held him steady and launched him out on some huge waves.  My younger son couldn't hold on to the board on those waves, though.  He kept flipping over.  I let him climb onto my back and he held onto my neck and rode the biggest waves with me, and I launched him solo onto some smaller waves.  

I think back on all the waves I didn't ride.  They weren't bad waves, they just weren't right for me for where I was at that moment in time.  I could have moved up or back or left or right, and I could have enjoyed the other waves, but then I would have missed the waves I did ride.

And I'm going back to the beach tomorrow.  I'm sure I'll ride more waves.  I might build a sand castle, and then sit back watch the advancing waves slowly knock it down.  That's a long, slow read.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Ghost Hunters

The two Ghost Hunters went down to the basement with a flashlight and a voice recorder.  The flashlight was a big industrial job, the kind with the large square battery that, being a guy, I should probably be able to describe in more detail.  The voice recorder came from a Hot Wheels playset. 

After a couple minutes they came back upstairs and called out to their younger siblings, who came running.  The Ghost Hunters pressed play. The sound of static came from the recorder, then knocking.

"Do you hear that?" the Ghost Hunters asked.

"Yes!" The younger kids could hardly contain their excitement.  I almost expected to find pee puddles on the floor.

"That's a ghost," the Ghost Hunters said with authority.  "You stay here," they cautioned the younger kids and then took their equipment back down to the basement.

When they returned, the youngsters gathered round and listened to the new recording.  The ever-present static was followed by knocking again, then a voice.  "Get out of my house," it said.

The giggles that followed told tale of excitement laced with fear.  The younger kids waited while the Ghost Hunters descended to the basement one more time, again coming up with a new recording of static, knocking, and voices.  This time the message was, "Get out of my house or I will kill you."

This was my cue to take action, because that's the kind of father I am.  After all, it disrupts my sleep when the kids come into our bedroom in the middle of the night to tell their mom they had a nightmare. 

The Ghost Hunters were already preparing for another mission.  "Let's go in here this time," they said, opening the pantry door.

"That's fine.  Just don't go in the Bat Cave.  You might not ever come out," I said, because that's the kind of father I am.  (NOTE: The Bat Cave is the closet under the stairs.)

Undaunted by the chance they could disappear forever, the Ghost Hunters abandoned the pantry and walked to the Bat Cave.  They opened the door.  I got off the couch and quietly walked over to the wall.  On the other side of the wall was the interior of the Bat Cave, and inside it, the Ghost Hunters.  I heard the door close.  Then I banged like hell on the wall, loud and fast.

The door opened so fast a sonic boom shook the house and the Ghost Hunters came out in a blur.  The screams were incredible.  I laughed so hard I again felt the need to check the floor for pee puddles.

I haven't seen or heard a ghost since. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Carpe-ment Diem

Carpe diem means "seize the day."  (NOTE: thanks, Dead Poet's Society!).  Carpe diem represents the winner in you, the fighting spirit that propels you through tough times and keeps great opportunities from slipping away.  Seize the day!

Did I mention you can pay a price for seizing the day?  A bill, so to speak.  It's your carpe-ment diem.

Unlike other bills that exact their tolls in the form of cold hard cash, the price you pay for seizing the day is oftentimes more physical in nature.  It's your proverbial pound of flesh.  Especially if you are almost 40 years old.  Oh, you guessed it, there's a story behind this one...

Last weekend we had my son's birthday party at a gymnastics training facility.  They opened the gym for fifteen children ages five to eight.  And their parents.

Some parents took advantage of the fact that they were not required to stay.  I, being the father of the birthday boy, did not have the luxury of leaving.  I was stuck there, surrounded by the temptation of the trampolines, tumbling mats, and foam pits.  Everything was padded, it seemed.  You'd have to be a fool to get hurt there.

What was I saying?

Oh yes.  The high bar (aka horizontal bar) next to the foam pit.  You know what it is - a horizontal bar that male gymnasts hold on to and spin and do flips and all sorts of cool stuff.  Stuff I can't do.

What was I saying?

Oh yes.  I swung out high over the foam pit, mentally preparing myself to let go of the bar and flip backward (a gainer).  I had plenty of momentum.  Just one more swing and...okay, maybe another one and...now one more and I'll be ready to...next time I'll...screw it, I'm not really gonna do that.  I let go and just jumped into the pit feet first (which was loads of fun, don't get me wrong, but it was too smart to satisfy me long-term).

Most people would recognize their limits right there. I am not most people.  I can do a gainer off a diving board, so I chose instead to attempt a gainer into the foam pit from a straight run.  I did it.  I also did a flip over the vault.  Landed it nicely.  In the foam pit, of course.  So I did a few more.  They got a little better each time.  (NOTE: This is the kind of success that improperly inflates your ego.)

I went back to the high bar and decided that it might be easier to do an inward flip.  I jumped up and grabbed the bar, the foam pit to my back.  I started swinging, the momentum taking me higher each time, visualizing how I would let go when my feet reached their peak behind me, using the upward momentum to carry them over my head as I tucked and executed a perfect inward flip!

Not.

I chickened out and just let go again.  As I swam through the foam blocks to the edge I noticed a peculiar sensation on my hands.  It quickly developed into a deep, burning pain.  I looked down and saw that the callus under the ring finger of each hand had opened up like the lid on a sardine can.  Apparently gymnasts use a protective guard or something.  They are sissies and cheaters.

My hands burned for a week.  I had to cut the flaps of skin off.  The open wounds made many menial tasks a murderous malady. (NOTE: thanks, Thesaurus!)

Which can only leave us to ponder one more thing:
Did I learn my lesson?

Yes, I did.  And I can't wait to learn it again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Boy Who Could Fly

My son turns six today!  On Sunday we had a birthday party for him at Gym Extreme, and I took this snapshot.  I had no idea it would turn out all cool-like with him hovering silhouetted against the open door.  Click on the picture for a larger version:


He landed in the foam pit without issue.  Looked so fun I had to try.  I hope to follow this post up later this week with a more in-depth account of the injuries I sustained...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Maine Thing

Oh, the joys of business travel.  As I write this I’m sitting in LaGuardia airport, on my way back home from a trip to Maine.  The trip started at 5:30 am on Monday.  When I looked out the bathroom window on my way to the shower I saw the eastern sky glowing, the sun approaching the horizon but not yet within its reach. (NOTE: this is foreshadowing.)

On my way to the airport, I usually take a shortcut through a church parking lot, but when I go there the gates were closed so I had to turn around and go the long way.  This did not cause me to be late, but it did cause me to say many bad words.

The flights were uneventful.  I didn’t play with cool new technology, and I stayed inside each plane until it reached the terminal. 

The plane rides were followed by a two-and-a-half hour drive from Portland to Bangor.  Enter Google Maps. (NOTE:  this is also foreshadowing; however, it is unrelated to the prior foreshadowing.)

I looked over my directions while I was waiting at the rental car counter.  I noticed the trip would take me on two toll roads.  I had no cash in my wallet – I had given my last three dollars to my wife the night before for my son’s soccer practice.  The lady at the rental car agency told me that the toll booths were cash only, but assured me that I would pass ATMs between the airport and the highway, so I would not need to deviate from my Google directions.  She was correct, and after I followed the 67 Google Map steps that took me out of the airport parking lot I got my cash and hit the highway.

My directions told me to take I-95 to Stillwater Ave.  Google did not think it was necessary to provide an exit number, the directions told me that after exiting the highway by taking a slight right on to the ramp (30 ft), merging onto the ramp (6 ft), then continuing on the ramp (50 ft), then taking a slight right to turn onto Stillwater Ave (250 ft), I would take the first right (137 ft) and my destination would be on the left (0 ft).

I saw the exit for Stillwater Ave (hey Google, it’s exit 186), exited the highway etc. and when I turned onto Stillwater, the first right happened to be the parking lot for a movie theater, and while I do enjoy movies, that was not my destination.  The next right was the entrance to a mall parking light, as were the following thee rights.  Being a male, I drove around for nearly a half-hour before I bit the bullet and called my client to tell her I was lost.

“Oh, you need to take the second Stillwater exit,” she told me.   “Exit 193.” (hear that, Google?)

I made it to my destination, worked, and then dined alone, no doubt attracting quite a bit of attention to myself because I was laughing out loud reading Dave Barry’s latest book.  In the book Dave mentions Stephen King, and it made me realize I was in King’s turf, so I kept an eye out, hoping he would make a cameo.

The next morning I woke up with the sun flooding my hotel room through the crack in the curtains.  I looked at the clock, which insisted it was 5:30 am.  I was certain the clock had slowed down during the night, so bright was the sun.  I jumped out of bed and checked my cell phone and my watch.  They both agreed.  It was 5:30 am.  Apparently the sun rises a hell of a lot earlier in Maine than it does in Ohio.

I worked, dined alone again, laughed out loud as I finished the Dave Barry book, and retired to my hotel room.  The next morning it was rainy, so the cloud cover kept the light at bay until 6:00am.  Time to check out of the hotel and drive back down to Portland for a meeting.

While I was driving, I occupied my time by flipping through radio stations in search of classic rock.  I found mostly God and talk radio.

SEEK
…and the Lord sayeth unto…

SEEK
…even though it is complete, we are still waiting…

SEEK
…complete, we are still waiting…

SEEK
…still waiting…

Hardcore déjà vu.  Of course, déjà vu means they changed something in the Mainetrix.  I kept a look out for Agents.  (NOTE: if you got that, you are a geek.  Don’t fret yourself, I’m a bigger geek for writing it.)

I was 5 miles from my exit when the Low Fuel light came on.  I watched the needle edge closer and closer to the bottom as I drove through Portland hoping to pass a gas station.  I finally found a Circle K and pulled in.  Every pump had a yellow bag on the handle.  But wait!  There was one open.  I pulled up to it, and as I got out of the car the gas station attendant walked over with a bag to cover the handle.  He explained they had to re-boot the pumps, and they would be down for 10-15 minutes.  I explained I was on vapors, and he kindly waited while I filled the tank.  For the record, I did not meet a single rude person in Maine.  I also did not meet Stephen King.

That evening I actually got to dine with a friend.  I had lobster (pronounced “lob-stah”), then retired to my hotel, At Least You’re Not Sleeping In Your Rental Car (NOTE: that’s not the name they put on the sign, but it really sums it up).  My room was a non-smoking room, but it clearly had not always been that way.  The air conditioner was ineffective at cooling the room, and overly-effective at emanating obnoxious noises throughout the night.  That, coupled with the seven hard, Chiclet-sized pillows, added up to a poor night’s rest.  

The sun and the fear of missing my flight gave me a one-two punch at 5:30 am, prompting another early wake-up call.  Now it’s almost time to board my final flight.  It’s been a good trip, but I’m always eager to get back home…and travel always inspires a blog post.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Finished!

I just finished the first draft of my next book, THE CHRONICLES OF CHRISTMAS.  It's the reason I haven't been blogging much lately.

Now I get to revise it, then have people critique it, then revise it again, and then I'll send it to my agent.  Here's the single-sentence pitch:

A team of scientists taking ice core samples at the North Pole finds a book buried deep in the ice; a book that tells the origins of Santa Clause, and the story of the first Christmas he delivered presents to children.

More to come, on this and other subjects.  See you soon...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Last Glass of Wine

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Grin and Bear It

Last weekend my wife and I celebrated our 11th anniversary in a cabin in the Smokey Mountains.  Well, actually we spent the days leading up to our 11th anniversary in a cabin in the Smokey Mountains.  We spent the majority of our anniversary driving home in the rain.  More on that later.  But first: bears.

Before we set off on our hike, we stopped by the visitor center to talk to a Ranger about the trails.  While waiting in line, I overheard one of the Rangers tell the couple in front of us that the animals were out.  When pressed for specifics on what animals? the Ranger said bears and snakes; they even had a bear in the parking lot earlier that morning.

NOTE: I was with my friend Mike, and my wife was not with us, so she never heard this little bit o' advice, which probably would have made her more anxious than she already was.  As she is a lurker on this blog, she will undoubtedly learn about this conversation ex post facto.  Sorry honey, meant to tell you!  Love you!  Happy Anniversary XOXOXOX

When we spoke to a ranger ourselves, we didn't discuss animal safety / dangers.  We just told him our goal was to see a waterfall.  He told us how to get to a trailhead for both Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls.

"Grotto falls is nice, it's the only waterfall in the park where you can actually walk behind the water and stand under it without getting wet," he told us.

"Hence the name Grotto," I pointed out.

"You know, you're the first person who ever figured that out," he said.  (Aside from the person who named the falls, I assume.)

"I have my moments," I said (my standard response for times when people mistake my smart-assery for insight).

We drove to the trail head and walked into the wild.  About a mile-and-a-half in, my wife asked me if I thought we would see any bears.

"Nah."

About a mile-and-three-quarters in, I heard a rustling off to the right.  "I keep hearing sounds in the woods, and I keep thinking it's a bear or something," I said.  Then: "It's a bear."

"What? Where?" my wife asked.

I pointed into the woods.  About thirty yards away stood a black bear.  I'm guessing it weighed between 400-500 lbs.

"Ohhhhhhh.  Oh my God.  Oh my God. Oh my God," my wife chanted/prayed as she turned and quickly walked away.  The air behind her rippled with Stark Terror.

The bear looked at me but didn't move.  I turned and walked away, checking back over my shoulder occasionally.  The bear didn't follow us.

We met up with our friends and another couple of hikers who had caught up with them.  After much deliberation, we decided that we would go back up the trail toward the bear, talking loudly in hopes that our noise would scare him away.

It did not.

He was hiding behind a tree, waiting for us.  I'm sure he was ready to pounce and eat us all.  Everyone else may have shared that opinion, because there followed a quick and unanimous decision to go back immediately.  But I did take this picture.  There is a blurry bear head in the center of it.  (Extra points if you can pick it out, in my haste I didn't have the camera settings right.  Look for the brown snout.)



We saw another, smaller bear along the roadside near the parking lot.  I was able to snap much better pictures from the safety of the car.



I also saw this snake:


When we drove home the next day, we encountered rain less than an hour after leaving the cabin.  It was the hardest downpour I've ever driven through.  The storm system was so large that we drove in the rain through the remainder of Tennessee, all through Kentucky, and into Columbus, Ohio.  When I checked the news I was saddened - but not surprised - to learn that the storms caused fatalities in Tennessee.  The amount of water coming down was damn near Biblical.

We all made it home safely, and now I'm looking forward to my dozenth year of marriage.  Like the encounter in the woods, I am sure my wife and I will both do the same thing: grin and bear it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Something you may not know about me: I love to cook.

I worked in restaurants for nearly a decade, and while I never attended culinary school, I can whip up many a gourmet dish.  While it has been more than a dozen years since I worked in a kitchen, I am not shy to make the most of this latent talent.  The first time I met my mother-in-law, I cooked Chicken Cordon Bleu for her, and I am pretty sure she has loved me every day since.

On Easter I made grilled pizzas, one of my favorites for the grilling season.  I made the dough from scratch (one day I might post my standard dough recipe), and topped it with olive oil, garlic, fresh chopped basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  (I saute the garlic in the olive oil to get the best flavor, then brush the mixture on top of the pizza.)

Grilling a pizza is a great way to cook it.  After your dough rises, you shape it into a ball and let it proof for about a half hour.  Proofing is a second rising.  You can find additional insight on second risings in the Book of Revelations.  Then you flatten the ball out using your hands and/or a rolling pin.  I prefer to hand-toss the pizza.

Once your dough is shaped, set it on a pan and dock it by poking little holes all over the surface (I use a fork to do this).  Docking the pizza will keep it flat when it cooks.  If you don't dock it, it will puff up all over.  Once it's shaped and docked, let it sit for another 10-15 minutes before cooking it.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high, about 300 degrees.  Transfer the pizza from the pan directly to the grill and cook it for about 3 minutes.  When the bottom is golden-brown, flip it over and add your toppings.  It cooks quickly, so if you have a lot of cheese, turn the heat down and close the lid so the dough doesn't burn before the cheese melts.

Once the cheese is melted, slide the pizza onto a pan, slice it, and serve.  We serve grilled pizza as a flatbread appetizer...




Thursday, April 1, 2010

Vacations

Vacations.  What can I say about them that was not already covered by Chevy Chase and crew?


Sometimes there is a profound joy in being someplace else.  Like when a friend texts you and says there was a late spring snow and two inches of snow fell back home.  And you are getting ready to go to the beach.  That's the kind of joy I'm talking about.

Thankfully, the nice weather followed us home. 

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's a Trap!

Earlier this evening, my 8-year old son asked me for help.

"With what?" I asked.  There was a hesitancy to my voice; not all tasks the kids request are feasible and/or interesting.

"I need to make a trap."

I thought about it.  Both feasible and interesting.  "Okay," I said.  "For what?"

"A Leprechaun."

So much for feasible.

"But you can't do all the fake stuff," he said.  Apparently he had Googled this prior to his asking me, and saw some sites showing parents how to stage Leprechaun pranks.  "Don't make footprints with your thumb, or sprinkle glitter.  If you do then I'll know it was you and Mom."

My mind immediately went to the Elves.  Fortunately, he didn't make the same connection.  I still had to play it off.  "We don't have any time for that," I assured him.

He had an idea for how to build a trap, and he started to sketch it for me.  It involved a box.  But other than two sides of the box his drawing was incredibly abstract.

"Can you show me?" I asked.

In a lucky twist of fate, he happened to know where he had an old shoe box. My wife confirmed the box was not needed for anything more useful than a Leprechaun trap, so we cut the lid off and I helped him build it.

It's your basic box trap, with bait on a string tied to a strut holding up one end of the box.  When the Leprechaun grabs the bait, the strut will fall and the box will come down.  Our bait is a gold coin, because Leprechauns are greedy. 

"Once we'll catch him, we'll have all his gold and then we'll be the richest people ever.  Because gold is worth a thousand," he explained.  He may be a little greedy, too.  I chuckled at gold is worth a thousand.  He didn't say a thousand...anything, just a thousand, because in his world, a thousand is one big gosh-darn number and if you have that many it doesn't matter what they are.

My wife gave us some candy and clover rings to use as supplementary bait.  We covered the string with them.  Now, we wait.

If this ends up being my last post, thanks for having read along.  We just retired with Leprechaun gold, like a thousand of it, and are now taking up residence on our own private island.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Childish Humor

Kids have a funny sense of humor.  As infants, anything from jingling car keys to tapping a soda can on the counter can elicit full-blown belly laughs.  Then they grow up and start to hear jokes.  They laugh when adults laugh, or when their siblings laugh.  They know the words were funny, but don't always understand why.

This is most apparent when they try to make up jokes on their own.

This doesn't always work with the intended degree of success.  I find myself laughing at my kids' jokes, but not in a "Wow that's funny" way.  More in a "Where the heck did THAT come from?" way.

Here's an example.  It's a simple knock-knock joke my five-year-old told me recently.  It's spent two weeks on a post-it note on my desk, awaiting its turn here on Ye Olde Blogge:

SON: Knock-knock.

ME: Who's there?

SON: Working out.

ME: Working out who?

SON: Working out at the place you work at.

ME: Huh?

SON: (Belly laugh).

So I end up laughing at his laughter, and he thinks his joke was a screaming success and tries to come up with more.  It's a self-perpetuating cycle ripe with a mixture of delight and confusion.  I'm sure I'll have more examples in the future, please stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Punctuality. Or lack thereof...

One evening last week my wife met a girlfriend for a drink on her way home from work.  I was at home getting dinner ready for the kids.  Sounds like a role reversal from 1950, doesn't it? 

She assured me it would only be one drink, and she wouldn't be late.  I told her to take her time, knowing she would do that anyway so it may as well be with my blessing. 

"Where's mom?" my younger son asked at 6:25, as we were sitting down for dinner.

"She's meeting a friend for a drink.  She said she would be home around 6:00 for dinner.  She'll be here any minute.  It's just taking longer than she thought."

"The opposite of Mom is quick," my older son observed.  He's accompanied her on many a shopping excursion, and he knows of what he speaks.

My wife's aversion to punctuality comes in handy sometimes, though.  We know that we consistently run on the far side of on-time, and we build that into our plans.  For example, this weekend we were meeting a group of friends at a local pizza place.

"We'll be there at 2:30," we told them.  "Daley time."

By the time we finally did arrive, we found that our friends had taken advantage of our delayed arrival (and their own stellar organizational skills) to arrange and assign the seats around the table.  Eight adults and six kids, placed perfectly:

- The two childless adults were furthest away from the kids.
- The two adults that arrived first and assigned the seats came next, taking advantage of an envious distance from the clamor of the children.
- My wife and I came next.  We sat across from each other, and we each had a one-adult buffer protecting us from the kids.
- The two adults sitting next us also sat next to their own kids (the youngest children, who were most likely to fall off their chairs, and/or provide a general increase in the amount of chaos in the universe, and therefore needed direct parental intervention)
- The two eight year olds sat next to each other and started a crushed-red-pepper-eating contest, while the two five year olds sat across from their siblings and colored.

Had we arrived on time, we would have been expected to participate in the planning session.  As it was, we simply arrived and took our seats.  I like that kind of convenience.

I'm coming from a background of extreme punctuality, so this has been a challenging transition.  I hate to be late.  I get it from my Dad.  He's the kind of guy who will cut through three corner gas stations and a shopping center parking lot to avoid red lights...only to arrive ten minutes early, and then sit in the parking lot and work on a crossword puzzle.  I get it, though.  I would rather do a puzzle than sit at a red light, too.

But these days, I've fully resigned to perpetual tardiness.  Maybe it's what was really meant for me.  After all, delay is really Daley spelled sideways...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Oh, yeah. I went there.

Insanity is a path all parents walk down from time to time.  We are led there by periods of totally irrational behavior in our children.  Kids do crazy things, and it makes parents crazy.  It's like reverse heredity, if you think about it.

You may be thinking that something happened in my house tonight to inspire this post, and you would be right.  I'm not going to get into the details, because that's not the funny part.  Lets' just say it involved an extraordinary volume of tears...a volume totally disproportionate to the act that inspired them. 

This particular tantrum yanked an age-old parental cliche out of me.  I tried to stop it, I didn't want to go there, but it just made sense to say it.  The perfect words to sum up what I was feeling, right there at the tip of my tongue.  Before I could stop myself I said, "Do you want me to give you something to cry about?"

I can say it worked, he didn't want anyting...wait, my wife just told me he's still upstairs crying.  I'll be right back.
 
Okay, I'm back.  Now before you call CPS, for the record, I did not give him anything to cry about.  Unless you count enforcing bedtime hours without the privilege of reading a book, something he was encouraged to do earlier in the evening.  Personally, I don't count that.  He argued that he's supposed to do it for school, which is true, and that his teacher will be mad at him, which is not.  It's Monday and he can make up for it any of the remaining days this week.  I'm not buying the tear-inducing necessity of "just one page."  I'm all for reading, but not as a reward for driving my wife and me crazy.

Eventually he stopped I didn't need to follow up with "this will hurt me more than it will you."    

Once, years ago, I caught myself using the threat of a spanking in a horrible juxtaposition that bewildered the tears right out of my son.  He was back-talking, and said no when I told him to do something he needed to do.  So naturally, I said, "Don't you say no to me.  Do you want a spanking?"

So what option did I leave him as a response?  Yes?  Maybe?  It stunned us both into silence.

Now that's it for tonight.  No more blogging.  Put the laptop down.  Do it now.  Because I said so.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow Daze

Three weeks ago, it snowed.  A lot.  Eight inches of wet, heavy, heart-attack snow.  The kind that you can’t just push off the driveway with the shovel…this was the scoop-carry-dump kind of snow.

The piles along the side of the driveway were deep enough to tunnel through.  We also dug an igloo in the pile at the corner of the driveway.  By we, of course, I mean me.  The kids helped me along with their positive spirit and words of encouragement.  “Hurry up,” they said.

Last week, before a single flake of the first snow had the opportunity to melt, it snowed again.  Thankfully I was in Chicago so I didn’t have to shovel it.

It snowed in Chicago, too.  On Monday night I kept waking up to the sound of the snow plow scraping asphalt outside my hotel room window.  On Tuesday night in Chicago I woke up to a 4.3 earthquake.  I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time (4am), I thought it was the damn snow plow again.  Only it didn’t make any scraping noises, it just felt like the ground was shaking.  Looking back now, all I can say about that is “duh.”  After all, it was an earthquake.

I was happy to be back in Ohio on Wednesday.  I was not happy to dig my car out from under six inches of new snow.  Then it started snowing again Monday morning.  We shoveled the driveway Monday afternoon; roughly six inches had fallen, and we were only to the halfway point.

[INSERT FUNNY COMMENT ABOUT GLOBAL WARMING HERE]

If it snows again - as it is forecast to do next week - I will be lost as to where to put it all.  The piles at the end of the driveway are already six feet tall.  I buried the igloo and tunnel (NOTE: the kids were able to convince me to dig them back out, because I am a push-over.)

But why keep telling you, when I can show you a before and after picture of the igloo.  And I'll even invite you 'round back for a picnic...



Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dude, where's my post?

In my head, that's where.  I've been in Chicago for work for the past few days, so I haven't had time to tell you about the snow we've been getting, or about the earthquake I felt last night.  But I will....Eventually. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Getting the Run-Around

I wasn't planning on posting again this week, but this is just too good...

Last night I was sitting on the couch watching a DVR recording of America's Funniest Home Videos with my five-year-old son.  Or rather, I was watching AFV while my son bounced around the couch like a jumping bean.  A very loud jumping bean.

"Wow, you're wound up," I said, checking the clock.  It was around 8pm, edging on bedtime.  "Why don't you run three laps around the couch and burn some of that energy off?"

He thought that was a great idea, so he took off.  I counted each time he passed between me and the TV screen.  "One...two...three..."

Oh, he didn't stop there.  He wasn't done by a long shot.  "Four...five...six..."  He asked if this would make him better at basketball.  I assured him it would.

"Seven...eight...nine...ten..."  I won't go through every number, because trust me, it's boring as hell.  I will give you some general recaps, however, so you can get the sense of how this little exercise progressed:

Laps 45-55: He added the dining room and kitchen.  I still only counted a lap when he passed between me and the TV screen, though.  After ten extended laps he went back to circling the couch.

Lap 70- He asked if his basketball game would be over.  I said it would be pretty close.

Lap 75- He told me he would go to 101.

Lap 101- Still going strong.  He asked me if running would help build up his Magneto powers.  I said I didn't know, but encouraged him to try it out and see.

Lap 125- I was cracking up, and reminded him that I only asked him to run three laps.  He asked me not to laugh.  Then he clarified that I could laugh at the TV, just not at him.

Lap 150- AFV was over, and I noted that surely his basketball game would be over too.  He did not object to being called Shirley.  Must work on this.

Lap 212- He started walking.

Lap 251- It was 9:01 pm and my wife came in to admonish me for not sending him up to bed already.  I made him stop and sent him up to bed, but I'm pretty sure he was dead-set on clearing 300 if we would have let him.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Guest Post

The author of today's guest post is my eight-year old son.   He's in second grade, and part of his homework is to write 10 sentences using 10 vocabulary words.  Today's words were:

  • Yelling
  • Sit
  • Passing
  • Running
  • Pick
  • Jumping
  • Picking
  • Sitting
  • Jump
  • Resting
And here's his contribution to this blog, via his homework.  Feel free to psychoanalyze us in the comments:

Stop yelling.  Stop yelling at me yelling hurts my ears.  Sit down mate.  Hey! Stop passing that football and get over here.  Stop running on the track and get over here.  Don't pick on my little brother wimp! Hey! Stop doing your jumping jacks and get over here!  Why aren't you sitting up?  Jump come on kid jump! I'm resting I broke my back I am parylized you see.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

And the Winner is...

My son, and we are very proud of him.  Now if we could find out what the contest was all about we'd be even more proud.  Unfortunately, getting your kids to provide details about school can be as eventful as asking your fish to describe the taste of water.

So here's what happened:

I was a guest reader for my son's kindergarten class last week.  I brought DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS from our home library, and it was such a hit that we followed up DON'T LET THE PIGEON STAY UP LATE from the classroom bookshelf.  There was a brief intermission where each child raised their hand to tell me how late they stayed up (NOTE: Apparently Star Wars airs on Fridays and many parents extend the standard 8:30 bedtime to 9:00.  Must look into this.  Also, several stayed up until midnight on New Years and one little liar stayed up all the way until morning uh-huh really she did.)

When I finished with the second book it was time for the kids to get ready for dismissal, and I decided to drive my kids home instead of having them take the bus because that's the kind of Dad I am.  We gathered his things and went off to another classroom to get my other son.

When we got there my older son's second-grade teacher saw my kindergartner and said, "It's nice to meet you, congratulations on your Trail Blazer award.  We heard your name on the announcements."

I was too busy beaming with pride to notice if he said "thank you" so I'll just assume he did.

On a side note, when I signed the kids out at the office, the administrative staff complimented me on the interactive reading.  My younger son's kindergarten classroom is closest to the office, and the door was open so they could all hear two dozen tiny voices shout "NO" over and over again.  The Pigeon books rock!

When we got to my car I asked a few questions about the award.  The answers were as thin as the air.  Later that evening I asked my wife, and she was totally in the dark.  She asked the boys some more questions, and by then they were sick of talking about it.  We have yet to determine:

- Why he got the award.  From what we could surmise, he was nice to people.
- When he got the award.  It wasn't that day.  We are certain it was this school year, and confident it was in 2010 (but not positive).
- Who else got the award.
- What else comes with the award, other than the principal saying his name in the morning announcements. 

For all I know it was a Major Award, falling someplace between the Nobel, Pulitzer, and that leg lamp from A Christmas Story...




"Fra-gee-lay.  It must be Italian..."

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Next Bubble

Let’s talk about bubbles.  Did you ever blow bubbles as a kid?
Well he’s back in town and he wants your new number (sorry, couldn’t resist).

But really, I have a point to make today about The Next Bubble.  Before I get to it, however, I think we should review Bubbles Past…

The Dot.com Bubble rose in the late 90’s, when everyone with the foresight to incorporate, get a website, and write a business plan on a napkin could raise millions in an IPO.  We saw that Bubble burst around the turn of the century, when people realized that the business plan was really wing sauce and the vast majority of the websites lacked cool things that were needed for long-term success, like customers.

Then the Real Estate Bubble rose when the banks started writing mortgages on discarded napkins left over from the Dot.com Bubble.  It rose in conjunction with the Financial Bubble, where traders started packaging the napkins so that some stained with blazin’ sauce were bundled with napkins bearing mild sauce, and then they sold the mixed napkins as actual wings with medium sauce, and investors ordered them like they were manna from heaven.  Nobody worried about heartburn.  They spelled relief A-I-G.

Ha ha! You might say.  Nobody is that dumb!  And you would be wrong.  Those bubbles also burst when the blazin’ sauce ripped the financial industry a new asshole.  Which is kind of amazing considering it was pretty much all asshole to begin with.  That, my friends, is a lot of rippin’.

We are close to the point of popping for The Next Bubble, and I for one can’t wait to see it go.  So what is The Next Bubble?

Politics.

For over a decade I’ve been watching as the political discourse in this country became bloated with misinformation and hypocrisy.  Sure, that’s just the nature of politics and it’s always been like that…but risk was also the nature of investing and lending, until it was taken too far, spawning an unnatural beast.

The Political Bubble rose as Republicans called foul on Democrats for doing things the Republicans themselves did a couple years before.  The Democrats denounced every idea to originate from a Republican simply because it originated from a Republican, even if the idea had merit.  Then they all gave themselves raises and went on recess.

Eventually the GOP started using churches to broadcast its message; I’m assuming that they did this because they couldn’t get any airtime on TV due to the liberal bias in the media.  With politics on the pulpit the Religious Bubble started to grow, inflated because of the with-us-or-with-them rule that made it so easy to identify the bad guys (HINT: it’s them).

It has come to such a head – the distrust so great, the stink of the mud slung so foul – that political discourse in our country is now a caricature of itself.  Really, US politics have jumped the shark.

The most recent evidence – not the first piece, and I know it won’t be the last – is Rush Limbaugh accusing the Obama administration of politicizing the disaster in Haiti.  Limbaugh said, "this [earthquake] will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, 'credibility' with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them."

Really.  Tens of thousands of people dead, and he reduced a show of support to a made-to-order grab for street-cred.  He couldn’t think for a second that they are sincerely trying to help people in desperate need.

Of course Obama has yet to actually politicize this, but that’s okay.  Rush already did it for him, so now whatever Obama does will be political by default.  Of course, Rush politicized his own heart attack, so can we really be surprised that he would stoop this low?

The problem is that many of Limbaugh’s listeners agree with him.  Here is a transcript from his radio show last week:

Justin of Raleigh, North Carolina: "Why does Obama say if you want to donate some money, you could go to whitehouse.gov to direct you how to do so? If I wanted to donate to the Red Cross, why do I have to go to the White House page to donate?"

Limbaugh: "Exactly. Would you trust the money's gonna go to Haiti?"

Justin: "No."

Rush: "But would you trust that your name's gonna end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?"

Justin: "Absolutely!"

Limbaugh: "Absolutely!"

So these two “absolutely” believe that if you donate to Haiti via the White House website, not only will they pocket your cash, but they will then proceed to SPAM you to death.

It is worth pointing out that at the time of the call transcribed above, Obama’s website linked directly to the Red Cross.

Of course the Left can’t let Rush have all the fun…I’ve read opinions denouncing George Bush’s efforts to help, too, just because he’s George Bush.

The Political Bubble is going to burst soon, mark my words.  The Religious Bubble might burst in tandem with the Political Bubble, like the Real Estate and Financial Bubbles did.  After all, Pat Robertson had to jump into the mix and claim that the earthquake was the result of a pact with the Devil made by Haitians hundreds of years ago.  And you know what?

Some people believe him, too.

But I think the majority of Americans are reasonable, intelligent, responsible citizens.  We’re just quiet.  And one day we will take the microphone back, and you know what that will sound like?

*pop*

I can’t wait…

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Shivering, and Not From the Cold

Once again my children have stepped to the plate at the last minute to contribute fodder for this blog.  Their youthful innocence brings marvel and wonder to life's most minor aspects, and I am proud to share them with you.  Of course, I'm referring to the phenomenon of "pee shivers" or, as Wikipedia puts it, post-micturition convulsion syndrome.  But for the purposes of this post, I'm going with pee shivers.


My older son recently had his first experience with pee shivers, which was accompanied by laughter and a lot of errant splashing.  It takes a while for a boy to master aim in general, and it's much more difficult when your body is experiencing a magnitude 8.5 trembler.  Even the scented candles on the back of the bowl are at risk of being extinguished.  Don't bother to ask about the floor.

I explained to him that pee shivers are a natural, if not freakish, occurrence, and it happens to all guys (NOTE: I hope this is the only "it happens to all guys" speech I will ever need to have with my children).  That seemed to end his questioning for the time being.  Then, yesterday, I had the pleasure of overhearing this conversation...

"Hey, I just shivered again when I peed," my older son shouted from the bathroom.

My younger son ran to him.  "Can I try?"

(NOTE: this is when I grabbed the post-it note and pen and started writing as fast as I could)

My older son zipped his pants and made room in front of the bowl.

"When, when I start?" the young one asked his brother as he got in position, ready for his first pee shiver.

"After," his brother told him.

"When you flush it?" the anticipation was killing him.

"No, while you're peeing."

I could hear the stream hit the water, then fade to a trickle and stop.  Then a very disappointed "I'm not shaking."

Alas, the pee shivers are not contagious like yawns and he will have to try again.  But I am confident that one day he will experience them.  As far as he is concerned, that day cannot come soon enough.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Misc.

Sometimes things happen around the house and I have to run and jot them down so I remember to write about them. Earlier tonight was one of those times.

We were eating dinner and my older son asked, "What does miscellaneous mean?"

"It means a lot of different things," I told him.

"How many things?" he asked.

"No, it means a lot of different things," I changed the inflection so he would understand better. He didn't hear my italics, though. He just stared at me with his head cocked like the RCA dog wondering at the magic sound coming from the stereo speakers.

Then I explained it to him thoroughly, but that part's not funny, so I won't go into it. You'll just have to trust me that he gets it now.

Also, since this post is about miscellaneous items, the 100th person signed up to follow this blog today. That makes me feel like I've accomplished something. Thanks everybody for signing up in the first place, even if you only read that one post; thanks everybody who faithfully lurks (and hopefully laughs); and thanks especially to those of you who share your thoughts regularly through the comments and your own blogs, it's been great getting to know you!

(NOTE: Damn, that was sappy. WTF?)

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Holidays Are Over

The holidays are over, and I can sum it up in one word:

Crap.

I'm rolling off the end of a two-week vacation. Six use-it-or-lose-it days, nestled among holidays. Sure, I had a few conference calls to attend from Ye Olde Home Office, some email trickled through, but for the most part I was offline and enjoying the holidays with my friends and family.

Today is a day for alarm clocks, showering before noon, bus stops, and work, so I'll say it again:

Crap.

December was a whirlwind for my family with events galore, ranging from weddings and office parties to quiet days at home. We visited relatives, had friends over, and had wonderful time alone as a family.

My boys shed tears Christmas Eve knowing the Elves would leave that night, but all sadnedd had abated by Christmas as the boys found that Santa brought them what they wanted most: football pads and Legos. Oh, the simplicity of youth, how I long to have you back...

Santa did bring Band Hero for the Wii for the whole family, and we spent many hours with the four of us working through guitar, bass, drums, and vocals on a bevy of 80's and 90's rock. I'm sure we looked (and sounded) like idiots to the casual observer, but when you find that the whole family can rock it through Mr. Roboto, you find that warmer family moments are few and far between. Domo arigato, indeed.

Here are my New Year's Resolutions:

- To see at least one of my books with a contract for publication. I'd like to say "get published" but with the speed at which the publishing industry moves I think it will be 2011 before anything hits the shelves.

- To write every day. Must be part of a novel, blogging doesn't count. So far so good.

- To post to this blog at least once a week. I like the irony in have a weekly Daley rant. I might shoot for Monday as my regular posting day.

- To do good work for my day job

- To not take for granted all that life has afforded me thus far, and to meet any challenges head on and come out on top. (NOTE: does anyone else hear the theme music from Rocky right now?)

That's all for today. Now it's time to get back to reality. I have an eight-year-old who just came into my office claiming a stomach ache, no doubt school-induced. Must get things moving again.

Crap.