Saturday, December 27, 2008
As for me, I have a lot of red wheelbarrows. I didn't think I did, but when I stopped to think about the answer to this question, I realized I have, like, fifty.
Learn to ski at summer camp? They can do it with the National Alpine Ski Camp -- a summer program in June, July, and August, that teaches kids how to ski and ski race safely and with a lot of fun. They've taught over 10,000 kids to ski already, and can teach mine, or yours, or anyone's.
And they do it in a way that won't have you worrying. Kids are supervised 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and there's a coach for every 6 athletes there, so they can't get into trouble, and they won't want to, because when they're not learning to ski, they're taking part in fun activities like paintball, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, and more.
But it's really about the skiing-- they'll learn to ski and have fun doing it, and your little snow bunnies will come back world-class skiers, benefitting from great coaching and video analysis and tips and lots and lots of fun practice. They'll be skiing circles around you before you know it -- maybe literally, given how great the coaches are. They might actually be able to ski in circles when they come back.
The camp is held at Mount Hood in Oregon, so your kids will have a beautiful, exciting, and fun summer vacation.
Anyway, when I was unable to talk him out of it, I caved in and so last night Sweetie and I took the Babies! to the store to get them boots and sweatpants. Mr Bunches was crabby because I'd let them watch "Peter Pan" during their nap, and that being the funniest movie ever, he didn't sleep at all. We spent about 30 minutes trying to wrestle him and Mr F into submission to get at least one boot on them for trying-on purposes, and then chased them through the little boys' section to get them to try on the snow pants, having to twice drop everything and go after them, and having to also once stop a fight over who got to carry the hanger from the snow pants, since Mr Bunches had it but Mr F wanted it, prompting Sweetie, who ordinarily never stoops to shoplifting, to take a hanger from a nearby rack and give it to Mr F, at which point both of them lost interest entirely in hangers.
Now, today, it's raining.
Song 71: "Velvet Snow," By Kings of Leon:
Down... to Go: Every song on my iPod, and pretty much everything that happens to me. Song 70 here.
Most women in the US now wear a size 9 shoe -- that's the national average for women's shoe sizes, up two or three sizes from the 70s when this small-foot mania appears to have settled in.
And this fact:
The average fashion model that you see in magazines or on TV wears a size 11 shoe.
Amazingly, facts and statistics are not calming and soothing to young women, but something else is: Great shoes that actually fit them from Samanta.
Samanta's a place that makes not just shoes in the sizes you can find in the store, but also Size 12 womens shoes and even larger, shoes that are as high-quality as any shoe you could buy anywhere else, but which has the added benefit of actually fitting the foot it's put on.
Samanta has this crazy idea that "Style + Comfort = Luxury," and while I agree with that, as I said, the young ladies are not going to be calmed by math. So Samanta calms them instead with shoes like this:
Available from size 6 to size 13.
Which means that everyone, from the tiny-footed to the normal-footed, can get shoes that they actually like and like to wear, instead of having to choose between style and comfort. And I meant everyone: they sell men's shoes, too.
Friday, December 26, 2008
I had two notebooks where I wrote down everything, more or less, that I thought was significant about what I did and what I thought and what I saw in
Up until that time, my life was not one that would be considered fun, or interesting, or weird, in any way that people would want their lives to be described by those adjectives. I was not leaving much behind. I was giving up a studio apartment and some couches and chairs that I’d bought for $100. I was giving up my TV and the VCR my friend Jimmie had sold to me for $5. And I was giving my childhood bed, the bed I’d slept on since I was maybe ten years old, the bed that slanted into the middle and had a groove that was about as long and wide as my body, the bed that was one-half of the bunk beds that Matt and I had shared when we had to share a room because our sister Katie was born, the bed that I’d taken with me when I’d moved out of my parent’s house for good. Although “for good” in that sentence definitely doesn’t mean “for better.” I had not done much of anything, really, with my life, before or after moving out.
Until I got on that train to go to Chicago and then to Washington, taking with me those possession I figured I’d need: My clothes, my cassette tapes and stereo, some books, and the notebook in which I would write down what I did in a year that I was hoping would be worth writing down.
I wish I could remember what I wrote, that very first day. I know that I wrote something not only because I was excited about being off on a trip, but because I remember sitting in
I was excited about being off on a trip because I had not taken that many trips in my lifetime, and I had not ever gone to live anywhere else, not counting moving out of my parent’s house and moving to Milwaukee, which doesn’t count at all. Moving less than 75 miles away doesn’t count as moving. If you’re within range of a quick drive to spend the day there – if you are only a quarter-tank of gas away from dropping in on Mom, dropping in as it so happens right around dinner time, so you stay for dinner because otherwise almost every meal you eat is a sub sandwich from your job at Subway, seeing as how you are neither a good cook nor a good budgeter and as a result there is not much that you have in your house that could be called “groceries” and even less that could go from being “groceries” to “dinner,” – if you are that close to your parents’ house, making it that easy to stop by (and also very easy to steal a couple of bath towels on the way out the door, so that you don’t have to do laundry just yet) then you have not really “moved away.” “Moved away” means no easy way back, means that trips home require planning and pickups at train stations or airports, require consideration of just how many days you can sleep on a couch. If your trips home don’t require that kind of advance logistical planning, then you have not moved away, you’ve simply moved out.
My own answer to the question of how many days can I sleep on a couch would also be answered in nineteen-ninety-four. The answer is about seven days after trying to take the LSAT while deathly tired because you are staying at Mom’s, which means you are sleeping on Mom’s couch, and because you are sleeping on Mom’s couch, you will be woken up every time Mom wakes up in the night, especially if when Mom wakes up she first vacuums the living room (where you are sleeping) and then when you ask her if she could do that later on maybe during the daytime, and she agrees, you will be woken up about an hour later when Mom accidentally spills very cold milk on your leg. I can sleep on a couch about seven more days after that.
I didn’t know that, yet, in January of 1994. What I knew was that the train was a boring and long way to travel, something I’d gathered about an hour into the trip when I disembarked at Chicago and had to wait a couple of hours to catch my connecting train. I was only taking the train in the first place because it was cheaper—slightly – than an airplane and I had to ration my money carefully. I had my savings, and the excess money from the student loans that I will be paying until I am 71, and that had to last me four long months in
I’ve traveled more now, and had traveled some then, and I know that
Trains do not go through any scenic areas. Not between
When there weren’t old dead factories, there was just old dead ground. Ground that was just hilly enough to avoid capturing my interest, and not covered with trees enough to be pretty.
Ninety-four was when I first began developing what eventually would become one of the concrete beliefs of my life, and that is this: Hills are scenic. For something to be considered “scenic” it has to have dramatic and large changes in altitude. There has to be a cliff, a mountain, a valley, waterfalls, drop-offs, plateaus, something. Every place I’ve ever been that could reasonably be described as scenic had that: San Francisco, the Badlands of South Dakota, the seaside near Mexico, the Atlas Mountains, to name a few, all had hills and valleys and other things that are scenic. On the other hand, places that were not scenic – Orlando, Oklahoma, Illinois, -- were flat, or mostly flat, or flat enough that I wouldn’t describe them as “hilly” and therefore were not scenic.
I developed that theory on the train ride from
That’s why the time spent sitting in the train station in Chicago sticks out in my mind: from the time I left Milwaukee until the time I arrived in Washington D.C. it was the only portion of the trip that could lodge in my mind at all, that could find a foothold among the song lyrics and commercials from when I was a kid, among the names of all the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Legion of Substitute Heroes.
The beginning of my trip started out being memorable for being so unmemorable. I had thought, maybe, that the moment I got on the train, things would transform and become exciting and scenic and fun and weird. But that didn’t happen right away. That didn’t happen until nearly a day after I’d gotten on in
Or where I was supposed to go.
Ninety-Four: The year that changed everything. Or the year that everything changed. (This is the Table of Contents)
Part One: Wherein I Say Goodbye To Machiavelli The Hamster.
Part Two: Wherein I tell How I Learned How Many Days I Can Sleep On A Couch.
Part Three: Wherein I Digress Quite A Bit For No Apparent Reason But Get Back To The Subject Eventually.
Part Four: Wherein I muse about memory and turning forty and also, eventually, introduce you to Rip.
Part Five: Wherein I Reveal That I Am Brilliant And That My Memory Does Its Own Thing.
Part Six: Wherein a lot of things seem symbolically related to each other, maybe, but they are not.
Part Seven: Wherein I Embody Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.
Part Eight: Wherein I Use The Phrase "Moustachey Karateness."
Part Nine: Wherein I Gloss Over How I Met The Son of the Shah of Iran To Focus On Other Things.
Part Ten: Wherein I Talk More About The Time I Was A Lead Singer Than I Do About 1994.
Part Eleven: Wherein I Compound Interest, and Try Not To Appear To Be A Waiter.
Part Twelve: Wherein I Run After The Vice-President, And Become No One.
Part Thirteen: Wherein I Foreshadow, and Also Go To A Hockey Game.
Part Fourteen: Wherein I Write Some Papers and Mention George Clooney, For Reasons You'll Understand When I Get To Him.
Part Fifteen: Wherein (SPOILER ALERT!) I Never Actually Tell You About The Day I Went Rollerblading (Although I Mention Other Days...)
Part Sixteen: Wherein The Hope Diamond Puts A Scare Into Me About How Good My Memory Might Be.
Part Seventeen: Wherein My Placement Of a Photograph, Decades Later, Turns Out To Be Symbolic Of Something-Or-Other.
Part Eighteen: Wherein I Learn A Lesson At Gettysburg (But That Lesson Remains Unspoken.)
Part Nineteen: Wherein I Compare An Ex-Girlfriend To Formerly-Famous Pandas (But Not In A Mean Way).
Part Twenty: Wherein I Say "Screw This" and Jump Ahead To The Part Where I Will Eventually Do Some Really Cool Stuff...
Part Twenty-One: Wherein I Finally Do Jump Ahead To The Morocco Part... Almost.
Part Twenty-Two: Wherein I Fly To Pittsburgh To Get To Morocco.
Part Twenty-Three: Wherein The Place I Got To Did Not Seem A Lot Like The Place I Left.
Part Twenty-Four: Wherein The Younger Me Gets To Tell You Stuff The Older Me Forgot.
Part Twenty-Five:Wherein Present Day Me Continues Reading An Old Letter And Gets To The Part About The Sheep's Eyeball.
Part Twenty-Six: Wherein The Younger Me Gets To Tell You Stuff The Older Me Forgot, Continued.
So the five days left in 2008 mean that I've got five days left to buy "Dragon Naturally Speaking"-- but I can get it at a discount now, because I have access to the ,
By ordering the I can not only improve my speed at blogging -- because Dragon Naturally Speaking will transcribe what I say and put it on the blog for me, so no more typos, no more slow-typing, no more hitting the delete key more often than I eat cold pizza -- but I can also save money, and not just because of the discounts those coupon codes give me on the program, but also because I use the program in my business, making it a TAX DEDUCTION -- yep, I get to save money on my taxes while making more money for me. That's what America's all about, right? Making more money, paying fewer taxes, and blogging faster: It's right in the Constitution.
So exercise your Constitutional rights and use the $50 Coupon Code- DNSMSBG -Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Preferred to get blogging faster. Or check out these offers:
- $50 Coupon Code- DNSMSBG -Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 Preferred
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My favorite part of Christmas Day this year? The part where I decided to heck with it, I am going to wear as many of my new presents as I can at once, which is how I ended up playing Rar Monster with Mr Bunches and Mr F while wearing my red-and-blue checkered Buffalo Bills' pajama bottoms and my new Green Lantern-logo t-shirt. And that, my friends, is the true meaning of Christmas.
Or not. I may be a little fuzzy on the details. We skipped church this year.
Song 70: "M79" by Vampire Weekend.
Down.. to go.: I've got a lot of time on my hands, and music to fill it up with. Song 69 here.
That would be hard. But you know what would be even harder? If you needed a wheelchair and didn't have one, so you couldn't go anywhere.
There's no need to be that limited, not with The Scooter Store. The Scooter Store sells mobility, in the guise of scooters, wheelchairs, and other mobility-assisting devices, like wheelchair ramps and accessories. And The Scooter Store makes it easy to shop there, even if you're not the most mobile of people, because they have locations all over the United States, and if they're not right in your city, odds are they can "bring the store to you" by having you simply call them up and work with them over the phone.
They've even got an online store now, so you can go to their website, find out how it works, then get mobile again, with a click or a phone call. They'll do all the technical stuff, walk you through the requirements, and deliver your scooter or wheelchair to you and teach you how to use it. In a lot of cases, they can even have Medicare pay for you.
So whether you need help moving around for a short time or a long time, get that help from The Scooter Store and get moving around again.
I'm pretty sure I've set it or am closing in on it, with 5. It's tougher than you'd think, especially with The Boy gunning for the cold pizza, too. But I've got the heart of a champion.
That's especially true because with bigger and bigger families these days, it's harder to fit "Christmas" into two short days. So we don't even try, at our house. We celebrate Christmas Eve, "Alternate Christmas", Christmas Day and even that old favorite holiday, "Yeah, come on over, it'll be nice to see you Day."
That kind of schedule means that we are constantly running out to get last minute gifts from Kmart, which is another holiday tradition at our house, and which will be again followed today when we have to zip over to Kmart to pick up some presents for Mom and Matt and my niece and the others that are visiting tomorrow.
But I don't mind -- because getting last minute presents means I can get great prices on those presents, like the "2008 Holiday Barbie," which is only $44.99. The word in the family is that the niece loves Barbie, as all three year old girls do, and why wouldn't she like one that looks like a Holiday Princess?
They've got a bunch of gifts for under $25, too, like the Crafstman 23-inch hand tool box, with a comfort handle, which we'll pick up for my sister's fiance, a guy we've never met-- but he's a guy, right, and guys like tools? That is, guys who are not me like tools. And there's Martha Stewart candleholders, girls' Route 66 clothes, Joe Boxer mens stuff, and even LeapFrog Leapster Learning Games, all under $25.
So don't let the holidays end just yet -- pick up those last minute gifts. And throw in a little something for that special someone... me. I'm that special someone.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
McHale and Mateo Shaw are both out of the hospital for now. Neither is doing great -- McHale needs to have his tonsils out and he's still sick and unable to eat much -- but they're on the mend once again. Their mom Angie Shaw says that the boys went to see Santa Claus this week -- and were not impressed. Santa gave them candy canes, and the boys gave them right back. Smart kids: don't take candy from strangers.
I wish we could all give Mateo and McHale what they really want for Christmas, but we can't. Read what Angie wrote about what the boys want, and why she and her husband, with everything else they have going on, are also helping build a handicap-accessible playground:
[Mateo and McHale] want to do everything all the other two and a half years olds can do. Unfortunately, they can't because they can't walk but this will allow them and so many other children to play along side their peers, build confidence and new skills, be independent and experience the care free sense of being a child....because all too often they are in a hospital, in therapy and have to rely on us to help them get around.
We don't expect the world to change we only want a place for our children to be just that - a child. To play independently with their peers. As we have said before - if our boys walk tomorrow, we will still build the playground - we know what it is like to walk in the shoes we walk in and can understand what other families are going through. Honestly, we have it pretty good. They had a tough start at life and even though our boys have a long road ahead of them - they will be just fine.
Those are some nice thoughts to ponder today.
Mateo and McHale Shaw were born conjoined twins and given a 5% chance of living. 2 1/2 years later they're still going strong, but they've used up all their medical coverage for a lifetime and need help paying for medical care. You can find out more about them by going to Caring Bridge; click this link and type "mateoandmchale" into the box that lets you search for a Caring Bridge site. Or send your tax-deductible contribution to:
Mateo and McHale Shaw Irrevocable SNT
C/O Kohler Credit Union
850 Woodlake Road
Kohler, WI 53044
Music critics don't look or listen to the things I do. I read these reviews and see things like the dissonance behind the music artfully clarifies the thematic composition and all I can say is "But is it good? And if it is, why?"
Now I can avoid reading reviews at all, and just find out if music is good or not right from the people who matter: Me and you and everyone we know, thanks to Everhype.
Everhype is the first internet site that lets you listen to music, rate it, and post Pop Music Reviews of your own, reviews by you about the music you like (or don't like.)
Right now, as I write this, I'm listening to The Veronicas' song "4Ever." It got a hype rating of 2 1/4 stars out of five -- but I'm helping them out by giving them 3 stars. All I had to do was click on a song and it started playing, and I then get to see how others rate it and rate it myself. They've got the lyrics up there, and I can read what other said, others like ashi09, who said the song goes downhill. (I disagree; I think it's all right.)
Signing up to post your own music reviews lets you create a profile, find friends, and more. So Everhype can be the only place you need to go to hang out and find excellent new music.
Today's question is a story problem:
If you are the person sent to pick up the Christmas present for the boss, and the office (including you) has chipped in $90 to do that and decided that the present is a $90 gift certificate to a restaurant he likes, and you go to pick it up, and when you do, you find that the restaurant is having a special where if you buy $100 worth of gift cards, you get an extra $20 in gift cards, is it okay for you to use the $90 to buy the boss' card and then use $10 of your own money to buy the extra $10 so that you get the free $20?
Not to give away the answer or anything, but the question would be more accurate if it said "was it okay for you to use..." Or, to be more accurate, still, if it said "was it okay for me to use..."
The Heroes At Home Wish Registry is a simple idea, but a great one. Sears has let our soldiers, the men and women who tonight and tomorrow night and all the nights after that will be spending the holidays in danger, rather than with their family and friends and little kids, Sears has let those men and women list things that they would like to be able to get for Christmas, but can't -- can't because they don't have the money, or can't because they are off in Afghanistan or Iraq or somewhere in the world, left to spend the time thinking about how they wish they were home and how they wish they could give their family a nice present and watch them open it.
We can't bring them home-- yet -- but we can help them out by going to the Wish Registry and looking up a present to give someone. When you go to the Registry, you'll see little blurbs about the wishes, like the soldier who would like presents for his 9 nieces and nephews. The presents are right there to be bought, and when you click on them, you'll donate the money to buy the present.
Now, the donations aren't tax deductible, but that's not important, is it? How much of a deduction do you get for $40 for a remote control train set for a little boy, anyway? And how much of one do you NEED?
So while you're shopping around online today, killing time until the office Christmas party starts, click on over to the Sears Heroes At Home Wish Registry. Pick out a family and make their wishes come true. Then you'll drive home a little happier, and they'll wake up a little happier on Christmas Day.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Today at work, I found a way to work the phrase "retrograde motion of Mars" into the conversation. That takes skill. Especially because I do not work as an astronomer, and the conversation was not about astronomy, and because also I did it while entirely ignoring all the rest of the work I was supposed to be doing in favor of working that phrase into conversation.
But that level of audacity is what you'd expect from someone who also manages to hum today's song as the background music to the Babies! sliding down their slide. Mr F and Mr Bunches' new favorite game -- second only to The Tackle Game -- is to go down their slide, over and over, while I watch them and cheer them on. Each time they slide down, I say "Woo hoo!" or "Wow!" or I cheer and clap.
Then, one night, I decided to spice things up a little and started giving them hand claps and hummed songs as background. So I'd sing, say, The William Tell Overture while clapping (dadada dadada dada da-da-da!) and mix it up a little. They liked most of the songs I chose (Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the main title from Star Wars, the Jeopardy! theme) but their absolute favorite was when I hummed song 69, which is Promontory, from "The Last Of the Mohicans" soundtrack:
Humming that song really highlights the inherent dignity and solemnity of two-year-olds rumbling down a slide headfirst.
Down... to go. All the songs on my iPod, and how they fit into my life. Song 68 here.
We've got the old-fashioned kind of cement floor, the kind that's stained and full of cracks where water can seep in, the kind that looks... pleh. Just pleh. And that's not good, when you consider that the garage is the doorway we use most often, it's where we store important things like Giant Rudolph and my bike, it's where my workbench is, and also when you consider that more and more, garages are becoming sort of all-purpose utility rooms that can really help increase a house's value.
So I've been looking at PremierGarage for custom garage flooring. They specialize in putting in floor coatings, and also in installation of cabinets and organizers. They can turn a garage from a cement-floored wet leaf covered dump into a whole new area of my house, an area where I won't cringe when I walk out into it, where I'll be happy to show my dad the stuff I've been working on, where my Christmas decorations and tools will be protected from the elements in style.
That, and the floors are two times harder than the traditional cement floors, so when I drop the drill or saw, or when the car pulls into it, I don't have to worry about getting new cracks.
The garage takes up a lot of space in a house, and isn't really used-- because it's ugly and wet and cold. But with PremierGarage, a whole new element to your house can be opened up.
I say it's Malph, but Sweetie says it's Potsie. And the debate actually made me late for work one morning.
As I've said, recently, I'm trying to recognize my readers and pay a little attention to the people who pay a little attention to me. It's all another step in my personal development and ongoing effort to be less self-involved -- so eventually, I might talk about something at the dinner table other than myself.
But not yet. I'm not there yet.
Anyway, today's Welcomed Reader is Digital Speed, a writer who claims to have a "short, fast blog with insight to the digital world," but there's a lot more to it than that, because that doesn't capture the poetic nature of blog entries like "Vulcan's Lament," with this great line: "Men take all of their memories to Pluto, leaving sons with but memories of conversations." And "insight to the digital world" does not capture the pure genius of "Burger King Is Awesome," which you have to go read. Just do it.
And thanks, "Digital Speed," for reading.
What I've found is this: Tribal Football, a site that has the Latest Football News and a lot more. Whether you're just getting into football (like me) or have loved it for a long time and/or play it (like my boss), Tribal Football should be at the top of your bookmarks. There's insider reports, columnists, a newswire on all the big leagues (including the US's own Major League Soccer, the one I've begun following) and best of all, a forum where you can trade news and opinions -- even if the opinions are ones you just formed because you just got into the sport. Remember that, you football lovers, when you go to Tribal Football yourself: I'm new to it. I'm trying, but I'm new. With Tribal Fusion, though, it won't be long before I can discuss football with the best of them.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
If I usually eat lunch at 11 a.m., and it's 10:57 a.m., and I am very hungry for no real reason whatsoever, will it make a difference if I just go ahead and eat my lunch now, or should I wait until 11 a.m. to prove a point, and if I do wait until 11 a.m., what point, exactly, am I proving?
Although it's kind of academic, because it's now 11:02 a.m. Point proven!