Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday To Middle!

It is Middle's birthday today, an event that is important enough not only to get me to leave work early, but also to get me to write on my hand that I am going to leave work early, so I can't forget. And it's important enought that I want to celebrate that by, for a change, thinking about someone besides me.

I am aware that in the very sentence where I announced I was going to think about someone else, I used "I" and "me" each once, and someone else's name once. I'm also aware that just a few sentences into this entry, the balance is tilted very heavily to being about me and very heavily against being about Middle.

I have a lot of fun poking fun at Middle and the rest of the kids here, but I very rarely mention all the good things they do. They do good things, you know, things that aren't as funny as not eating bratwurst patties even though you like bratwursts because bratwurst patties are round and that affects how they taste. Good things like Middle recently talking me into buying the four-light light fixture for the kitchen, and the clear-dome at that, instead of the three-light fixture with blue domes. Middle said the four-light fixture was nicer and would be brighter and she turned out to be right, because I installed the new light fixture in the kitchen this Sunday and our kitchen is now bright enough to see even though we still have the other light fixture that doesn't work, and even though I learned yet again that there is no fuse to switch off that particular light fixture.

I thought I had it this time, too: After installing the new fixture on one side of the kitchen, I went to try to fix the other, broken light fixture. To make sure that I could tell when the fuse was turned off, I used three failsafe items: the stove, the coffee maker, and a hair dryer plugged into the wall below the light fixture. See, last time I used only the coffee maker, and instructed The Boy to tell me when the coffee maker light went off while I went and flipped circuit breakers. The coffee maker light turns off on its own, though, sometimes, so when I began working on the wires last time, I almost got electrocuted and concluded that I hadn't flipped the right circuit breaker and it had just been coincidence that the coffee maker turned off on its own at that moment.

This time, I outsmarted the creative wiring, and used the stove, and a hair dryer which I plugged in and turned on. Then I had Middle stand there and tell me when the hair dryer went off, and when it did, I began working on the wiring, only to get shocked again.

I'm lucky, I guess, that the wiring in our house is so old that it doesn't actually carry much electricity through it, because twice now I've been standing on a metal ladder when I grabbed a live wire and felt electricity shoot into me.

Our wiring looks a little worse than this.

I don't know how the wire can carry enough electricity to shock me but not enough to generate light in the fixture it's hooked up to. I try not to think about that.

I ended up, that day, flipping the main circuit breaker and shutting down all power to our house, a move that resulted in, I should add, resetting my coffee maker timer so now it doesn't make the coffee automatically at six a.m. I haven't reset it yet because I've been busy.

Hey, how's that post about someone else going for you?

Back to Middle. Middle is turning 17 today, and was right about the light fixture and it was not her fault that I was almost electrocuted. Those are two very good things about her. There are lots more, and I don't have the time or the space to list them all, so I'll give you the highlights, in no particular order:

Middle once compared me favorably to Brett Favre. If she'd never done anything else good in her life, that alone would have gotten her in my good graces forever -- but she's done a lot of other great stuff, too.

Middle loves animals and her brothers and sisters and goes out of her way for all of them and almost never complains, even when Oldest makes her watch reruns of "Laguna Beach" all Sunday afternoon, and even when Mr F and Mr Bunches invade her room while naked and try to grab her pictures.

Middle's Cat: Scruffy Jean McDougal! And yes, she's winking!

Almost the first thing Middle does everyday is clean out the litterboxes. With three cats, that's a chore, and she does it before breakfast. I don't like to do it at all, and I would never do it before my cereal.

Middle also works at her job at Old Navy and volunteers at a horse farm and spent one day pitching hay for hours, for no pay, because she likes animals and wants to be a vet and working on the farm will help her get into vet school. She argues that she was not "pitching" hay because she didn't have a pitchfork, but conceded that "throwing" and "pitching" are synonyms.

Middle always gets the right size milk glass for me when she sets the table.

Middle gets really really good grades almost all of the time and tries her hardest all of the time.

So if you read this, leave a comment wishing Middle a happy birthday, and in the future, bring your cats and dogs and turtles and cows and older sisters and younger brothers to her. She'll make sure they're taken care of, whether they need to choose the right fixture, eat some hay, or watch MTV all afternoon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hey, it's Enrico Palazzo! And Disco Pirate Bunnies!

I think that commercials should be required to be a little less catchy.

I'm one of those people who thinks that commercials don't affect him, only I'm kidding myself-- we all are-- because they do. They affect me directly and do so a lot of times. No matter how much I tell myself that I'm not affected to advertising, there will always be the memory of the night that Sweetie and I were watching TV and saw an ad for a fast food restaurant that will go unnamed but which looked really really good and the next day we got up early and went there for breakfast. And I dreamed about it that night, too.

And commercials affect me indirectly, like this morning when I'm driving to work and find myself, for 30 minutes, singing the "credit union song" from the commercial that was playing when I started the car. Again, I won't name the company, but the song has a strumming acoustic guitar and a sort of Jack-Johnson-y singer. A guy who's not quite as likeable or funny seeming as the "Credit-Report Crab Shack" guy, who also has catchy songs but who gets downgraded for suggesting that he wouldn't marry his girlfriend because of poor credit. As a guy who owes a lot in student loans, I am very sensitive to people suggesting to Sweetie yet another reason why she might want to set her standards a little higher than me.

But the credit union guy has a good voice and sings:

"A home equity loan at [the name of the] credit union."

That's the only part I remember. So I drove to work today humming and singing that, and, after a while, that part of my brain that needs a lot more to do kicked in and does what it usually does: begins filling in homonyms.

Does anyone else have some kind of overactive brain that plays little games like this? My mind is constantly working on something that it shouldn't be. Like last week when I tried to take an alternate route home because the usual road home was all traffic-jammed up and as I was trying to remember where I was supposed to turn to get back onto my usual route, my mind instead decided to think of three other things:

1. The average speed in miles per hour I was getting versus what I usually get on the way home,
2. Whether I had my cellphone on vibrate or ring, and
3. Disco pirate bunnies.

Those last two were actually kind of important because, first, I didn't know if my phone was vibrating or if it was just my leg getting tired of hitting the clutch because of the stop and go traffic, and, second, the song "Disco Pirate Bunnies" from the show "Bunnytown" is about the coolest kids' song I've ever heard, and really, Disco Pirate Bunnies should have their own show.

Which is what I was thinking about when I missed my turn. I wasn't thinking about the Disco Pirate Bunnies this morning. My mind hadn't turned to that particular page yet, so instead of runnign the credit union song out of my head, my brain just started inserting words that rhymed but less sense, slowly warping the song:

a home equity zone at [the] credit union...
a loan equity poem at [the] credit union...
a perspective-y loan at [the] credit union...

And I was singing those periodically. Really, though, you've got to give my mind credit for that last one, right?

I have a cure for that song-running-through-your head thing, but I can't always use it. I can't use it at all, in fact, because it will be worse.

The cure for any song running through your head, as told to me by one of my friends once, is this: Hum The Star-Spangled Banner. It works, he said, because "The Star-Spangled Banner" has no tune and will drive all other tunes out of your head. Which would be great, except that the part of my mind I can't control and which will eventually be "Exhibit A" in Sweetie's divorce case, whenever I think of "The Star-Spangled Banner" immediately turns to the Naked Gun version of the song and all I can think of is Hey, it's Enrico Palazzo! and then I not only start laughing, but also insert that into the song:

An Enrico loan at [the] credit union...

So I would like it if you commercial writers out there would just stop being so good at it and turn your efforts to something else. Like creating that "Disco Pirate Bunny" spinoff.