Saturday, June 20, 2009

I'll never know if Sweetie actually looked at the toad. Unless I ask her. (Actual Things I Thought, 2)

Actual Things I Thought (and some actual things Sweetie said) While Roaming Around The Henry Vilas Zoo with Sweetie, Mr F and Mr Bunches today:

Am I in the right place? Why can't I ever find the zoo? They should have signs telling where the zoo is.

* * * * *

I don't know if that's a chicken or a peacock. Zoos should really make an effort to keep regular animals out of them because I'd feel dumb if I took a picture of an animal that wasn't supposed to be in the zoo. Like when geese come into the zoo pond and I don't know if they're supposed to be exotic wild geese or if it's just a goose.

* * * * *

Whatever happened to that disease that pra
irie dogs spread? Wasn't it called Monkeypox? I wonder why it wasn't Prairie Dog Pox.

* * * * *

Sweetie: "That's ugly." (About a badger.)

* * * * *

I wish that buffalo would look up so I could get a cool picture of a buffalo looking up at me.

* * * * *

I can never find the poison blue frog. Years and years I've been coming here and I've never seen it. I bet they don't have a poisonous blue frog in that glass cage.

* * * * *

Me: "That is a big toad. Did you see it?"

Sweetie: "Yes."

Me: (Thinking): I bet she didn't even look at it.

* * * * *

Why is there an ad for the Madison Water Utility? That poster is clearly an ad for the Madison Water Utility, but do they have to advertise? I bet they do because of bottled water. I never thought that bottled water might be hurting the water utility's bottom line. But aren't they tax supported?

* * * * *

Me: (To Mr F): "Look, it's an emu."

Reads sign.

Me: "No, it's a rhea. Whatever that is."

* * * * * *

At the spot where you buy little ice cream cones of goat food: That second cone is only, like, 2/3 full. But I paid 75 cents for it. Would it be rude to ask him to fill it all the way up? Probably. But why would that be rude?

* * * * * *

I wonder if that goat will bite him. (As Mr Bunches fed the goat)

* * * * *

Why are all the ladies wearing jeans? Aren't they hot? It's like 90 degrees out here?

* * * * * *

How do we get to the part of the zoo where those weird howls are coming from? None of these animals are howling.

* * * * * *

Where's Mr Bunches? Never mind. Got him.

* * * * *

I'd really like to drink the soda I had in the stroller rack, but I left it alone in the stroller while we went into the reptile house and now I'm not going to
drink it in case someone spit in it.

* * * * *

Me: (To Mr F): Look! It's the lion enclosure.

(Reads sign)

Me: I guess it's the tiger enclosure. Let's look for tigers.


Me: I guess the tigers aren't out today.

* * * * *

That lion is in the exact same position as it was last year when we were here. Exact same position. I could prove it, too, if I took a picture of it and compared it to the picture I have at home that I took of it last year. But wouldn't people think maybe I just copied the picture again?

* * * * *

Why is it important to give the animals names from their home country? "Jabari The Giraffe?" Would it be insensitive to just call him Harold?

* * * * *

Those signs announcing that chimpanzees are "
not monkeys, they are GREAT APES" seem sort of pushy.

* * * * *

The Madison Water Utility could do a little less advertising here and a little more putting in actual bubblers to drink from.

* * * * *

Those people look a little too biker-y to be at the zoo. You don't picture Harley riders coming and looking at penguins.

* * * * *

Me: (To Mr F): Look, it's a piranha.

(Looks around for sign. There's no sign)

Me: I'm pretty sure.

Update: After reading this, Sweetie asked me: "What frog?" FYI, Sweetie, it was a toad, and I knew you didn't look.

Also, she said, "I'm gonna put in there some things I was thinking, like this: He's not watching our children. He's not watching our children. I'm gonna punch him..."

I like it whenever other people do the work for me. That's why I keep the kids around.

I've been thinking a lot about getting a Car Warranty lately. So many things, big and small, can go wrong on a car and I don't want to have to shell out thousands just to fix my car, or go buy a new one, but I also don't want to get suckered like I did the time I bought the extended warranty from a dealer and learned it covered, really, nothing.

But I've got no idea which car warranty companies are good and which are bad -- other than, I suppose, the ones I sue are bad and the ones I haven't sued might be good. I'm not inclined, either, to spend all my time rooting out which ones are good or bad or right for me, either.

So I would be in a bind if it weren't for US Warranty Center -- because (lucky for me!) US Warranty Center has already done all the hard work.

They've protected my valuable time by sorting out auto warranty companies and setting up a network of pre-screened companies that offer auto warranties, using their years of experience to offer a huge selection of auto warranties at great prices. All I have to do is go their website and provide a little information -- no long or complex forms and no waiting hours or even days to get an answer back, because they'll get me a warranty quote fast.

That's especially valuable for me, not just because it frees up my time to go and continue doing what I do best (reading comics on the Internet) but also because we've got a bunch of different cars to cover, all different ages and used for different things and with different problems, so I can get answers about ALL of them at once, instead of monkeying around with companies for weeks. And with the pre-screening, I can be more assured that the company I go with isn't some fly-by-night scammer.

Debt settlement is like a coat of many colors.

One size doesn't fit all when it comes to dealing with debt. Debts are incurred in all different ways, and by all different kinds of people, and so resolving problems created by debt requires a creative approach.

I come across people who incur debt -- too much debt, or debt at the wrong time -- all the time in my day job; I'm a consumer lawyer, remember, and people call me all the time for help with their mortgages, credit cards, and other debts. These are people like you and me, people who borrowed money for school or to buy a house or a car or got hit with medical debts or lost their job or who got divorced and had their ex refuse to pay the support they owed... people who in one way or another need help with their debts.

Most people calling me are calling to ask about bankruptcy, but that's not the only option they should consider. There's all kinds of debt settlement solutions available, ranging from a simple debt consolidation loan to debt forgiveness to payment plans and more, and each of those needs to be considered in a given situation.

Maybe you want to protect your credit rating but are just having trouble keeping up with high interest rates on your credit cards; if that's the case, a lower-interest debt consolidation loan could be the solution. Or maybe you've got a lump sum of money -- a bonus or tax refund or inheritance-- but it's not enough to pay off your bills. Debt settlement might be an option, then -- offering creditors a settlement of 25 or 50 or 75 percent of their debts.

I know what I'm talking about not just because I help people out with this, but because I've dealt with all kinds of different debts in my life. I'm paying off my student loans, and I've got a mortgage, and we had to borrow money to put on our roof, and we've got credit cards, and I used to have a business that I closed down. Each of those poses different kinds of problems in handling that debt: some are secured debts, some are high-interest, some are tax deductible, but each requires a careful, analytical look at it.

If you're having trouble dealing with your debt, you should talk to a professional and try to analyze all the options you have. Read up on the options, too, and become informed. A good place to start is something like, a resource site that has articles and options things to help check out.

Make sure you're informed, and make sure you weigh all your options, and then make sure you deal with your debt responsibly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

They should have mixed the DNA a little more carefully... (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 20)

Sweetie's Hunk of the Week is Bradley Cooper.

You/Sweetie Know Him As: The guy from The Hangover who ends up being the fourth- or fifth-funniest guy in that movie.

I know him as: This is going to surprise a lot of people, but I've been a huge Bradley Cooper fan for years. I began rooting for this guy ever since he had played "Gary" on Miss Match in 2003. I loved that show, and I loved him most of all... I saw him and I thought to myself: That guy absolutely nailed the essence of "Gary On Miss Match." He is destined for bigger things, probably involving boob jokes.

Ha! Got you! I had never heard of him before The Hangover, either. Nobody had. Hollywood didn't have its scientists use their vast underground tanks of DNA to create him until this year, when they needed to make up for their embarrassing attempt at making Gerard Butler a romantic comedy star.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm... About Him: He once hosted "Extreme Treks" on the Discovery Channel. I never saw that show, but I'm assuming that he had a beard.

The Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: Sweetie has a streak of liking funny guys, and being even the fourth- or fifth-funniest guy in The Hangover means you're still pretty funny, so I'll go with Sweetie likes him because he's funny.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "I don't know if he's good looking... or evil good looking."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: Remember, he was a nature-show-host, which means he not only had a beard once, but he probably also ate a bug. So everytime you kiss him, you're kissing bug.

Plus... is it a bonus that he might be evil? Could Sweetie be attracted to Supervillains? I really thought I knew Sweetie! Do I have to invent a death ray? Marriage is hard.

Do Tigers Dream Of Striped Sweaters? (3 Good Things 2)

Yesterday it rained a lot, which might bring other people down, but not me. Because not only do I love to hear the rain in the summertime, but I also had my 3 good things:

1. I got the "SpongeBob Squarepants" CD "The Yellow Album," featuring The Sweater Song.

2. I got 2 of the 3 air-conditioners installed.
3. Oldest paid up on my birthday present. For presents, I always ask that I get to go somewhere or do something instead of getting gifts. Oldest in January had promised to take me to a movie, and yesterday, she and Sweetie and I went to see The Hangover, and she paid. So, free movie!

Read the previous 3 good things here...

Baby announcements can get me back into the will? Maybe it's not too late to do one...

When the Babies! were born, I'm pretty sure the only announcement we sent out was me answering the phone in an exhausted voice and saying "You'll have to call me back. I haven't slept in three days."

Eventually, things settled down and we got to the point where we had a spare moment or two to send out birth announcements. That point was yesterday, which is a little too late. If I send out birth announcements with nearly-three-year-0lds on them, Sweetie will be carted off for experiments by a secret international group of OB-GYN's, just like Octomom was.

Had I thought ahead, we could have had our baby announcements done by Peachtree. They've got style after style available on their site, and it's easy to make them up; just click on the one you like -- say, this one: And then fill in the details of your baby, like the birth weight and name and stuff. Then check out and e-mail the picture you want to use to them, and next thing you know, you're announcing your baby in a nice way, a way that won't get Nana to say "Well, you could have been a little nicer." A way that will get you written back into the will and maybe also get someone to hire a little help so that you and Sweetie can get at least one night of rest.

Plus, the announcements themselves are really nice. Better than something I'd do at home on my own, because I have no idea how to get those graphics and frames and things and Peachtree prints them on real card stock, but not so hard as somethign you'd buy in a store. Who wants to be inserting photos into cardholders when you should be holding your baby?

I see from browsing around there that Peachtree does other prints jobs, like invitations and holiday cards and stuff, so it's possible to use them for every major event in your life, moving from birth to high school graduation to wedding to finally getting a good night's sleep, which I expect will happen in the nursing home.

Seriously: A birth announcement is a great way to introduce friends and family and coworkers to your newborn bundle of joy -- a way to show them that cute confused expression your guy had on his face as you brought him home for the first time, or a way to let grandparents see just how tiny her little hands are, and a keepsake for everyone who's going to want to know that new little family member. So do them right -- and Peachtree is an excellent, easy and inexpensive way to do them right.

Leftover Pizza Will Probably Make It Onto Many Of These Lists (3 Good Things 1)

A long time ago, I read that one simple way to keep up a positive outlook and have a better life is to, at the end of each day, remind yourself of 3 Good Things that happened that day. I started doing that-- but I changed it to the next morning. Each morning, now, when I get up, I think of 3 Good Things that happened to me the day before so that I begin my new day with a good, positive outlook.

I've decided to start sharing those, so here goes with the first:

Thursday's Three Good Things.
1. I scored 27 points against The Boy in basketball, almost beating him.
2. I got to go to the Splash Park with the Babies! -- at 10 a.m. On a Thursday.
3. There was leftover pizza for lunch.


6/19: Do Tigers Dream of Striped Sweaters?

6/20: Who knew a 2-year-old would be such a good choreographer?

6/21: The best way to unwind.

6/22: If the sea is any draw for you.

6/23: I told you, many of these would involve pizza.

6/27: Genius should be rewarded by ice cream.

6/28: My musical tastes are eclectic.

6/29: It will be the big hit of 2010.

6/30: It's true, fish do that.

7/1: Also, we had pizza.

7/2: It's at 1:35 of the trailer, if you're the impatient type.

7/3: We did get a couple of pictures but they weren't very good

7/4: 2 of the 3 have to do with eating. I wonder if that's connected to the way my pants keep shrinking?

7/5: This is not my finger holding a baby turtle.

7/8: I don't think you can actually spend peanuts there, though.

7/9: I called him Mr Smushface...

7/10: Really, I wasn't kidding about how often pizza would make this list.

7/11: Sweetie was well aware they were celebrity fingers.

7/17: Mr Bunches Was More Helpful Than Mr F...

7/18: Potatos can't be pets.

7/19: There were also Meatball Subs

7/20: 2/3 Videos, 1/3 Books.

7/21: Mr F Is The One Pictured Here...

7/22: Better late than never

7/23: Cat Search Deputy

7/24: The sunlight was remarkable.

7/25: 3 Of the 5 Senses Are Representin'...

7/26: Pine cones.

7/27: Clouds rule.

7/28: The Miami Vice Stubble look.

7/29: The Long Drive Home Edition of 3 Good Things

7/30: A good day for thinking up stuff.

7/31: 3 Good Things Out Of 500

8/1: How can people drink blood?

8/2: Mopping

8/3: All Mr Bunches, All The Time

8/4: Eesnaw

8/5: Janitor for hire

8/6: Cowboy Superman

8/7: Mr F had other plans.

8/8: Re-

8/9: Yoga & Web Soup

8/10: I want to live in the future.

8/11: Mr F comes running...

8/12: World Record!

8/13: A toe-tapping good song.

8/14: Boys' Night Out.

8/15: Not all about comics.

8/16: Hot Fudge!

8/17: Out of work early.

8/18: Smiling in her sleep...

8/19: Avenue Q.

8/20: Muffins & Colbert.

8/21: I see them all the time, after all.

8/22: I will post the pizza picture eventually.

8/23: The picture is from last year.

8/24: I found the squirrel funny.

8/25 and 8/26: How'd a spider make this list?

8/27: I am the fastest man alive (who is sitting in front of my computer!)

8/28: It's like finding money...

8/29: I suppose I could choose three dimensions...

8/30: Who needs three anyway?

8/31: I have watched the first 10 minutes of many movies with Mr F

9/1: It's not my actual grocery list.

9/2/09: And it's not even that actor's real name.

9/3/09: Since Mr F gets mentioned twice, the picture is Mr Bunches.

9/6/09: You can see from the picture why I never bring the Babies! to the office anymore.

9/7/09: Everything is better if you just say "and pizza" at the end of it.

9/8/09: No pictures are working today!

9/9/09: The all-video 3 Good Things.

9/12-9/13/09: Surprisingly, the kickball game broke nothing.

9/14: Just try saying "And Pizza" after your team loses.

9/15: Coming next fall: Biker Babies!

9/16: How'd carrots make this list?

9/17: What's the point of making a video if you don't want people to see it?

9/18, 9/19/ and 9/20: Also, Mr F tore up most of my idea notebook.

9/22: That's right, I'm taking Green Day Down a peg.

9/23: 3 Good People Are My 3 Good Things.

9/25-9/27: The picture is from the hill...

9/28: I don't know why I never bothered to ask where the supplies are.

9/30: Everyone's funnier as a basset hound.

10/1: Everything wise should be on a t-shirt.

10/2-10/4: Also, I jogged over 4 miles including up some big hills, but I didn't remember that until too late.

10/5: Some things are corn dogs.

10/6: Everything comes full circle here.

10/7/09: I got the Cardinals and the Red Sox and then two teams with no chance to win.

10/12/09: I hope I didn't give it away with the clue...

10/13/09: There is a girl in New York City who calls herself the human trampoline...

10/14/09: Probably, the onion rings should be number one.

10/15/09: These things didn't happen...

10/16-10/18: I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille.

10/19: This should probably be 183 good things.

10/20: His ostrich goes something like "Wroolooloo!"

10/21: Half evil, half genius: That's the recipe for success. Also: Add a pinch of oregano for luck.

10/22: Extra Good Things [Meaning "More Good Things," Not "The Same Number Of Better Things"]

10/26: I Want This Poster.

10/27: The Boy's aphorisms need a little work.

10/28: Being bad at games is good

10/29: Facebook, leave Sweetie alone.

10/30-11/1/09: Sweetie is the one who chose the meal, just so you know.

11/3: Shampoo washcloth duck soap car.

11/4: Demon Llama!

11/5: It all makes sense if you read it a couple times.

11/9: If you look at the picture, and imagine me walking up it tiredly, you'll kind of get the idea. Only my hill is steeper.

11/10: 3 From Mr F

11/11: Butterscotch: The Next Generation.

11/12: Ideas not ready for prime time... (a mashup!)

11/13-11/15: It's Monday. 'Nuff said.

11/16: I can't think of a clever title to put here.

11/17: People have really been doing a good job commenting...

11/19: Better late than never...

11/20-11/22: Is Monday still Monday?

11/23: One of my things will be one of your things.

11/24: Everyone has a favorite food additive, right?

11/26: Technically, it's a cereal.

11/27-11/29: I get to go back to eating sandwiches tomorrow.

11/30: Not directly involving leftover pizza.

12/1: Don't quibble with me, meteorologists.

12/2: Poor Richard's got nothing on me.

12/3: The path is all covered by snow.

12/4-12/6: Shoveling snow's not so bad...

12/7: Aristotle's Cookies.

12/8: You'll have to read to the end to see if you won the contest.

12/9: I bet nobody in Hawaii sat in traffic for 2 hours...

12/10: Modern-Day Muppets and other thoughts.

12/11-12/13: Nothing says "Holiday Cheer!" like a gutted carp!

12/14: I didn't actually hit anyone (I think)

12/15 and 12/16: Combined.

12/17: The Barber of Seville is a song I know thanks to Bugs Bunny cartoons.

12/21: Everything is okay if you just add "... but isn't that what the holidays are all about?" after it.

Over the holidays: Tiny computing can be fun! And squinty!

1/9/10: After the shake, I had a cranberry nut muffin.

1/10/10: Honestly, it's very cold.

Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars... but it was murder to get there:

Read "Eclipse," the phenomenal sci-fi book by Briane Pagel. Available at and on your Kindle.

1/11/10: I know they're not that great, but it's Monday...

1/12/10: I'm pretty sure the trampoline and Snickers bar offset each other.

1/13/10: My life increasingly revolves around cheeseburgers...

1/15-1/17: It is an actual circumstance...

1/18-1/20: And here I'd thought it was just a blue shirt.

1/21/10: Alliterative one-word good things, with an explanation.

1/22-1/24/10: I wonder if I can enter the cartoon contest...

1/25/10: In celebration of comments and secret codes

1/26/10: It's the little victories that count. Those and the word 'jalopy.'

1/27/10: Soon, no more tiny 'puting.

1/28-1/31/10: It's true, you won't ever use it.

2/1/10: In non-Sweetie related news, I bought some ranch-flavored corn nuts.

2/2: Harold had his purple crayon, Mr Bunches has his red one.

2/3: With so many TV shows featuring music...

2/5-2/7: I'm a computer genius!

2/9/10: Sweetie's 3 Good Things!

2/11/10: Sigourney Weaver looks weird as a blue cat.

2/12- 2/14/10: [Spoiler Alert!] I mention something from Lost...

2/15/10: I don't drink tea. I just liked the picture.

2/16/10: Sweetie, you can always tell what day it is...

2/17/10: I saved the best one for last today.

2/18/10: Mr F is a better dancer...

2/19-2/21/10: Now with 100% more Down... To Go.

2/22/10: Inspirational yogurt, and "I Can See For Miles" by Petra Haden

2/23/10: I'm kind of a superhero, and "Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts" by Bob Dylan.

2/24/10: Buzzing bees, and "Plan To Stay Awake," The Deathray Davies.

2/25/10: Nothing's immoral, and "A Simple Desultory Phillipic" by Paul Simon.

3/5-3/7/10: Have you ever tried to relax lying on a plastic cow? and two songs: "Lucky" and "A More Perfect Union."

3/8/10: Metropolis is in Illinois? And "The Man Of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" by Sufjan Stevens.

3/9/10: Spinach has killed more people, and "Building All Is Love" by Karen O

3/10/10: I'd cheat a priest to get to Sweetie, and "Little Miss Pipe Dream" by The Wombats.

3/11 or so: I was going to put in one from last Friday, and "There Goes My Love" By The Blue Van.

3/16/10: It really is remarkable how many of these feature leftover pizza, and "What Do You Do With A B.A. In English" from Avenue Q.

3/21/10: I grabbed the wrong doritos, and "Safe & Sound" from Electric President.

3/22/10: Violin-y is a mood, and "Violin" by They Might Be Giants

3/26-3/28: Coffee is a standalone drink, and "What Ifs + Maybes" by Bromheads Jacket.

3/29/10: It's classic Babies! pictures time, and "Maneater" by The Bird And The Bee.

4/16-4/18/10: Sure, they've made a billion dollars... and "She Does" by Locksley.

4/19/10: "Leaf: The Game." And "Bruises," by Chairlift.

4/20/10: If you hand Mr Bunches a loaded gun, and "This Too Shall Pass" by OK Go.

4/21/10: Secretly Muhammad is hiding behind the book, and "Mend My Heart" by Alli Millstein.

4/23-4/26: It takes more than a conspiracy to keep me down, and "99 Red Balloons" by Nena:

4/27/10: This parable is why I never delete... and "Rock Lobster" by the B-52s.

4/28/10: Panera-Geddon! And "Good Work" by The BoDeans.

4/30-5/3/10: I never actually had any hippie days, and "Celestial Soda Pop" by Ray Lynch.

5/4/10: No time for chat! And "Love Is A Stranger" by Eurythmics.

5/7-5/9/10: Every Saturday we have an adventure... and "Hypnotize" by The White Stripes.

5/11/10: Will Smith Is Like Sara Lee... and "Switch," By Will Smith.

5/14-5/16: Icee, youcee... and "Home" By Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros.

5/18/10: Life is better with a moat, and "Two Dots" By Lusine.

5/19: I was on the dance floor, acting strange... and "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees.

? - 5/25/10: 3 teenage boys + a dog... and "Mariella" by Kate Nash

5/26/10: I'm going to take Dennis DeYoung down a peg... and "Music Time" by Styx.

6/2/10: "Leftover Pizza" is officially retired... and "Light & Day" by Polyphonic Spree.

6/7/10: Teeter-tottering beats a clean car, and "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by The Charlie Daniels Band.

6/10/10: Swamps can be romantic, and "Elegance" from "Hello, Dolly."

6/14/10: The Flag Day Intro has nothing to do with anything, and "Down Below" from a commercial.

6/15/10: Next year, eggs will be on the bad list, and "Love Astronaut" by Murder Mystery.

6/17-6/20: I love a good denouncing, and "Can't Touch It" By Ricki Lee.

Zombie Consultant is an overlooked profession.

I'm going to be --hopefully -- collaborating on a script with a group of filmmakers in Milwaukee. (My role? To zombie it up a bit.)(Mom would be so proud.)

That's going to require me to not only get copies of their script and shooting notes and... um... other movie stuff, but also to watch rough cuts of the film and see what the director is looking at and things like that. In the olden days (2002) that would mean lots and lots of trips to Milwaukee, plus cumbersome emailing of attachments back and forth and highlighting and redlining changes to the script and saving multiple copies of the same thing. What a pain, right?

Luckily, I don't live in the olden days (2002); I live in NOW. Which means I don't have to keep driving to Milwaukee and/or use my entire computer memory to save 33 different versions of the script. I just have to make sure I and the director both have Proxy Pro 6 -- remote control software that lets me view his desktop as though it was my own, or vice versa. Or the other way around in reverse.

Proxy Pro 6 has 256-bit encryption; you don't need to know EXACTLY what that is to know that it means your files and desktop will be more secure than any other computer's -- 256-bits is the highest in its class. That ensures security while I'm logging onto the Director's computer and having his desktop become mine, too, so that both of us are looking at the same clips of the movie and the same draft of the script while talking about it on the phone. We watch a clip, punch up the script, decide what the scenes should be, make a few edits, and both save and there you go: Instant collaboration and no extra memory used, no time constraints, no driving.

Proxy Pro 6 can be used for more than just making a zombie movie; it could be invaluable to hold meetings with far-flung collaborators in any business: everyone's got the same thing on their screen. Or it could be used by an IT company's help desk so that the helper can just log onto the caller's computer and fix the problem.

But it's best use for me is avoiding that drive to Milwaukee. So I will be a Zombie Consultant just as soon as we can get that onto everyone's computers, and then cast some Undead.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's the lettuce that gives the sandwich it's "rightness." (Real Time, Real-Er Time, 2)

Everyone knows that time isn't an absolute. There's real time -- the stuff that's measured by clocks-- and real-er time -- the stuff that's measured by us.

Today's Real-er Time Measurement: The extra time it takes to make hamburgers once you realize you can't cook the dinner you were going to make.

Yesterday, I'd taken the day off and decided that as part of that, I'd give Sweetie a break and do her grocery shopping and cook dinner. I decided that for dinner we'd have BLT sandwiches and some fruit salad, and I loaded up the Babies! and headed off to get the week's groceries.

Two-and-a-half hours later, I had put away the groceries, I had the bacon in the oven (a trick Sweetie learned when she was in her
"cooking shows" phase (now she's back in her "cop shows" phase. I'm waiting for her "cartoon phase" so she and I will agree on what a television is to be used for) and I was making the toast for the sandwiches and I'd sliced up the tomato when I realized: huh! No Lettuce.

Since you can't have a "BLT" without the "L" I had to at the last minute change dinner to "burgers," and begin cooking
those instead -- which caused dinner to be delayed, giving the Babies! more of chance to draw with markers on the table (markers that are only nominally washable) and The Boy a chance to complain that he was starved and Middle a chance to ask if she couldn't just have a "BLT" anyway because she didn't want a burger:

We don't have any L... lettuce," I said.

That's okay," Middle said.

No," I said, having thought it over. "You can't have a bacon and tomato sandwich for dinner. That's not right." Thereby enforcing one of the many unwritten eating rules I have.

We did finally eat, and it was delicious, even if "Fruit Salad" ended up just being "watermelon."

The Measurement of How Long It Took To Go Up The Hill:
Real Time: 15 minutes.
Real-Er Time: 1 hour.

So in the end I wrote a post about writing a post about accusing her of doing what she'd done... now I'm confused. (Says You!)

I got this comment the other day on an older post:

I think that "Sweetie" seems like a very smart woman!!!!!

The post was one about how Sweetie has been throwing out my t-shirts here and there and how I was fighting back by getting new t-shirts without telling her.

When I saw the comment, I laughed and thought I'll have to tell Sweetie about that later.

Then, I thought: I should write a post about that, and claim that I suspect that it was Sweetie who actually left that comment.

So later on, I said to Sweetie: "Someone left a comment today on a post on my blog, saying how they thought you were smart."

Sweetie didn't respond immediately and I said "So I'm going to republish it and make a joke that it must have been you."

That's when Sweetie confessed that it was her who left the comment, anonymously.

So that's what our marriage has progressed to: Sweetie is opting to make it appear that anonymous Internet readers are supporting her in our debates.

Sometimes, on hot days, the chips melt in my pocket and make my keys gooey.

I like to take the Babies! places by myself -- no Sweetie, no The Boy, no Middle or Oldest to help me. Which means that I am never without the basic things that I need to take on the world while accompanied by hyperactive two-year-old boys:

1. A pocketful of chocolate chip cookies, and
2. My ATM Card.

I need the chocolate chip cookies to control the Babies! When cajoling and threatening and carrying them both and chasing them all fail, I pull out chocolate chip cookies and simply bribe them with the sweet, sweet goodness of chocolate chip cookies.

I need the ATM card because when dealing with the Babies!, and the public, I am frequently trying to control two little boys with one hand while I pay with the other -- and cash and checks are no good in that situation.

So I instead pull out the ATM card and do the whole transaction one-handed (usually while being yanked and/or punched by tiny fists) and manage to get through it with a modicum of dignity. (Okay, NO dignity. But I get through it.)

Suppose YOU were to find yourself in a situation like that: Crazy little boys, a need to pay for the bag of Fritos and soda, and only one free hand? But suppose that you were one of those people who for one reason or another (bad credit, no credit, blacklisted by banks...) who didn't have a debit card? can help you by getting you a Prepaid Visa Mastercard debit card. These prepaid debit cards work just like a bank-issued one but you don't need a bank account to get one. You just need access to the Internet (and you obviously have that, 'cause you're reading this online)(in case you forgot).

There are 84 million people in the US who for one reason or another don't have a "traditional" bank account. Each of those people can now get an ATM card, and by doing so take part in the same kind of life that I do...

... I'll drop the Babies! off at four. You bring the cookies.

It always comes down to the squirrels. (What Kind Of Person, 1)

Are you a presser or a holder?

Have you noticed, as the ever-more-digital era we live in progresses, that more and more digitalyl-numbered items have two ways of setting them?

Before I get to that, let me just say that I sweated out for a few minutes how to describe the kind of numbering I'm talking about: Like a digital clock, only not a clock. Our stove, for example, has a temperature gauge that is set... um... digitally, meaning that it's not a thermometer like I'm used to, not a gauge at all, but simply some lit-up numbers that go up and down when you press arrows next to it.

Like this:

Not this:
Words failed me, so I had to go to pictures. The reason that words failed me is this: all numbers are digital.

It's stupid, therefore, to say I have a digital temperature gauge because unless the temperature is spelled out (eighty-one degrees) it's of course digital. So when I was trying to figure out how to describe my stove's temperature gauge, I had to pause and think because saying it was digitally-numbered, or even just digital, felt redundant.

Anyway, we have a digital stove, not an old-fashioned one, and it's set by pressing up and down arrows. So is the timer on our coffee maker and a variety of other things in our household.

And there are two ways to advance those numbers. I can make the stove temperature get hotter by pressing the button, over and over, with each press advancing the temperature by 5 degrees. Or I can hold the button down and it will do it on its own.

That discovery the other day led me to first spend time trying to decide which was faster: pressing it over and over or holding it down? If I wanted to set the stove at 450, would I be better off pressing or holding it?

I discovered that the length of time was the same: it didn't matter whether I pressed the button repeatedly or held the button down, I got to 450 at the same time.

Then I thought which was more efficient -- and decided that holding the button down was more efficient, because it takes more energy to press the button over and over, extending and retracting my finger minimally, than it does to simply maintain a steady pressure on the button.

But psychologically, it felt faster to keep pushing the button down, even though timing proved that it wasn't faster -- because I felt like I was controlling it, not the stove.

So after all that, when I finally settled down to cook dinner, I decided that I'd continue to press the button repeatedly, since I liked the feeling of being in control and it seemed faster. (Plus, it's more exercise... that counts as exercise in my world, now.)

And then I thought that the world could be divided up into two groups of people: people like me, who would rather keep pressing that button knowing that's not affecting anything, and people like... well, other people who would rather just press-and-hold.

Pressers, I conjecture, want to control the outcome of things and are go-getters, the movers and shakers of the world. We are the people who are constantly trying to shape or change our surroundings.

Holders, then, are the opposite: Passive. Going with the flow. Seeking the path of least resistance. It's the holders who are going to be first to go when the squirrels take over. Pressers will fight to the bitter end.

So which type of person are you?

The Reverse Mullet is an intriguing hairstyle, isn't it?

Philosophers have long looked for ways of adequately summing up human existence. Think of "I think, therefore I am," or of the ancient thinker... um... I can't remember any right now. But you know and I know, from years of not really paying attention in school, that humanity has always looked for ways to sum up the span of a human life.

Well, I am a thinker, and I am human, so I decided that I would add to the sum total of ideas in this category by coming up with my own catchy phrase to sum up what the meaning of life is, and my own catchy phrase is this:

Life is all about trying to get enough wisdom to adequately explain your unfortunate hairstyle choices of the past.

You know that I've hit on something, right there. In life, we're constantly moving from "Hair Styled Like Luke Skywalker's" to "Hair that is kind of spiky on top" to "Hair that is kind of like a mullet and spiked on the side" to "Hair that for some reason is permed" to "Hair that looked like Woody's from Toy Story" to, at present, "Hair that would make people think you're in the military except they see your physique and know that you're not a soldier."

At the same time, as we/I progress from one hairstyle to another, each step is joined by a quest to gain enough knowledge to be able to say "Sure, that hairstyle was dumb, but I only did it because..." and then to add " But my new hairstyle, the Reverse Mullet, will never go out of style."

As you can see, I have a lengthy love-hate relationship with my hair, one which at times benefitted from, and at many more times, WOULD have benefitted from, the use of professional products and attention. Say, some of the L'Oreal hair styling supplies that are available at

Any of the personal care products available there would probably help, I suppose, and any would be an improvement on my own personal products, which are:

1. The kind of shampoo you buy for 99 cents a bottle from a bin at a store, and
2. Nothing else.

I could get the "Intense Rebalancing" nighttime scalp lotion to ease my mind and improve my scalp, and pair that up with some of that Aqua-proof gel to actually style my hair (style it beyond "the toweled-and-untouched-thereafter" look, I mean) -- and order them from Spafrais, taking advantage of not only their low prices but also their always-free shipping, and maybe then move past this CURRENT hairstyle stage... advancing to the next level of understanding and wisdom.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Follow your nose... lest you lose it. (Cool Things I Never Learned In School, 3)

What in the heck was going on in the 1800s? With noses, I mean?

While I brushed my teeth this morning, I was reading about the Elgin Marbles. That's a set of marble sculptures that was stolen by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon back in the 1800s. "Stolen" may be a little harsh, I suppose, since Lord Elgin had permission from the Ottoman Empire to take them if he wanted. But the Greeks now say he stole them and the Brits are, I gather, thinking about giving them back; I don't know.

I don't know all that, yet, because I didn't finish the article yet, for two reasons. First, it doesn't actually take me all that long to brush my teeth. And second, I got distracted by a throwaway sentence in the article in Newsweek that mentioned that Lord Elgin paid a pretty high price for the marbles. Quoting from the article:

In the course of his Ottoman escapade, he lost the following: his beautiful and rich wife to his best friend, a big chunk of his nose to a nasty infection he'd caught in Constantinople and, ultimately, his marbles, which he was forced to sell...

That's where I stopped reading to stare at my nose in the mirror. He lost a big chunk of his nose?

That might not be so alarming, except that I have a secret fear of losing my own nose ever since I saw The Salton Sea, a movie in which Vincent D'Onofrio's character had to wear a weird, artificial nose because he'd lost his nose, through drugs or something.

That too might not have been so alarming except that Vincent D'Onofrio's character was the second person I'd heard lost a nose -- the first being Tycho Brahe, the famed astronomer who began his life studying law, but then turned to astronomy.

When Tycho Brahe was in law school, he got into an argument with another student. (They were arguing about who was a better mathematician. Imagine if kids still argued about that, instead of arguing about who, really, can claim that Don't Stop Believing is "their song," as our kids do.) That argument led to a duel in which Tycho lost part of his nose, leading to him wearing a prosthetic nose made of gold and silver which he periodically reglued on.

And I didn't learn any of this in school. I learned it from reading books on my own, from watching movies, and now from being so addlepated that I read while brushing my teeth. So the score is:

School: 0; Addlepated Toothbrushing: 1.

But, more importantly: What was the deal with noses in the 19th century?

If you read this carefully you'll realize I don't know all that much about Scotland.

As usual, Scotland has ALL the luck. They get kilts, Sean Connery, bagpipes, the Loch Ness monster, and now this:

I want that room. I would love to have that room. Unfortunately, I am not going to get that room because I don't live in Scotland. (Thanks, parents!)(And thanks, past-me-who-didn't-move-to-Scotland!).

That room was created by the Northern Scotland Joinery and is just one of the many examples of fine craftsmanship the Northern Scotland Joinery puts into all their projects; they are among the premier, elite, Scotland companies engaged in Double Glazing, installation of doors and windows, and building conservatories like the one pictured here.

So if Ilived in Scotland, I could be sitting in that room, in my kilt, playing the bagpipes with Sean Connery and planning our expedition to find Nessie.

But I don't. I don't live in Scotland.

If you do live in Scotland -- I'm looking at you, Sean Connery-- then put down the bagpipes for a moment and check out the Northern Scotland Joinery's website. Whether you need windows, doors, a conservatory, or more, the website can give you information, testimonials, and even a free quote.

There is even a hard way to do things the easy way. But that's for another post.

There's an easy way and a hard way to do everything. Seriously. Consider, for example, "watching TV." The easy way to watch TV is to sit on the couch and watch TV. The hard way to watch TV is to do it like Mr F does it: Standing on your head, propped up against the post in our family room, waving your legs around and giggling.

He likes it that way. I don't know why. I'm an easy way guy. I like to do things the easy way, especially if the easy way means I get to the fun stuff quicker. If I watched TV like Mr F does, for instance, I'd have to wait to see all the good cartoons I record until after I managed to stand on my head.

Consider, also, World of Warcraft. You need gold in WoW; everyone knows that. And gold is hard to come by. Or it can be hard to come by, because getting WoW Gold, like everything else in the world, can be easy or hard.

The hard way to get gold? Slog through WoW scene after scene trying to find or raise gold.

The easy way to get gold? Buy it online. Just get your WoW Gold online and skip all the boring parts that you have to do to get gold otherwise, and get on to the fun stuff. will let you do just that; click that link and go buy your gold online. Then go back to WoW and live the life of Riley. Or Sir Riley. Or Wizard Riley. Whatever your character is. It doesn't even have to be called "Riley." That's just a saying.

My point is, why do things the hard way when there's an easier, fun way to do it? You want to have fun playing World of Warcraft -- then do that. Buy your gold and use it to have fun!

Monday, June 15, 2009

fanglefashioned? (First Thoughts)

You hear about things being old-fashioned, or newfangled, but those are never reversed. I wonder why? Why can't a horse-and-buggy be oldfangled?

See? I may not be able to rebuild society in the event that a cataclysm destroys it. But I will be able to help out by creatively describing both the former and new civilizations. So keep me around.

Sunday Afternoons Are Supposed To Be Relaxing...

I just want everyone to know: I was leaving as fast as I could. I want especially the people who were at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on the west side of Madison, Wisconsin, Sunday afternoon about 4:45 p.m., to know that: I was leaving as fast as I could.

I also want, in particular, the girl who was sitting in a chair with a laptop and papers spread out, to know this: I don't get you. Who goes to a bookstore to do homework? I understand that the libraries are, for some reason, closed on Sunday afternoons (that time of the day, and week, when they might be most beneficial to people who want to take out a book, or study) but is there a shortage of other places to go and study and look over your notes and otherwise prepare for exams? No. No, there is not a shortage of other such places -- especially near where you were, where there are more coffee shops and restaurants and parks and such than you could shake a stick at.

I don't remember when bookstores started including chairs and encouraging people to just sit and read, but I do remember that the moment I saw it, I thought Weird, and then I thought who would do that? Is there any other retail store that encourages you to just come and hang out and not buy anything, and to use their products for a while and then leave? Imagine if clothing stores adopted the bookstore mentality of adding other products to draw you in, products like food and drink and music and movies and tiny book lights that always make me think "I wonder if that would be as neat to use as it looks," and also make me think "If I used that, then Sweetie wouldn't have any reason to complain if I'm reading at night while she's trying to sleep," but then I think, too, "I'd probably end up falling asleep and the light would hit me on the face the way books used to when I'd read paperbacks in bed and hold them up over my face and then as I dozed off they'd fall forward and clonk me on the bridge of my nose."

If clothing stores did do that, did think like bookstores and put in more than just clothes, put in music and DVDs and television sets and a coffee shop where you can get the kind of giant, 2- and a 1/2- pound brownies that are, for some reason, only available in coffee shops, that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? Ridiculous, indeed -- but it would also make it possible to wear a new outfit on a date and never pay for it; women could tell men to meet them at the clothing store, where the woman would be "trying on" the outfit the entire time that the two sat and had coffee and listened to music and tried to pretend that neither of them was really going to eat that whole brownie even though they did... and then could simply put the outfit back on the rack and get on with their lives.

So what I'm trying to say is, I think I'm on to something with this idea and I invite clothing stores to try out the idea and also to pay me royalties.

What I'm also trying to say is, Girl With Computer, I'm sorry that I and Mr F and Mr Bunches annoyed you and/or interrupted your studying yesterday for a brief moment, but, really, (a) you were in a store, not a library or study hall, so you kind of had to expect some interruptions, and (b) it really doesn't matter where you were, we probably would have inflicted ourselves on you yesterday.

The trip to the bookstore was my idea, only it hadn't begun as a trip to the bookstore and, as it ended up, my idea wasn't put into effect hardly at all, but I'll still take credit/blame for the whole trip.

The trip began when I had to get the Babies! up from their nap yesterday at 4, and I knew that they were going to be crabby because they hadn't hardly slept at all.

They hadn't hardly slept at all because I'd gotten them good and wound up before putting them down for their nap. I'd gone into work a little on Sunday morning, and then come back home at 11, and promptly decided on the spur of the moment, to take the Babies! out into the yard to play, something only I am really willing to do in our household.

Sweetie would take the Babies! out in the yard to play, except that Sweetie has trouble doing that alone because out in the yard, Mr F's main activity is "trying to escape," something he's amazingly good at, especially considering how hard it is to get out of our backyard. Our backyard is surrounded on two-and-a-half sides by a large and ill-kept row of lilac bushes. On the third side, there is the Sorta Great Wall and also the Dead Zone, where there is a large pile of brush and branches and trees that has accumulated over time.

The Dead Zone began when I needed a place to put leaves I raked up in the backyard. Leaves cannot be bagged and thrown in the trash in our community. I don't know why they can't, since it seems to me that leaves are exactly the kind of thing that should go in a landfill, but they can't. They have to be put in a pile next to the curb so that a truck can come by every couple of weeks and vacuum them up. I've never seen the truck, but in my mind, I picture it as kind of looking like Sylvester McMonkey McBean's Star On/Star Off Machine, only instead of scooping up Sneetches it takes in leaves and puts them someplace that is not a landfill.

Our yard, though, is kind of near a lake, which means that we pay a lot in property taxes and also that it's one of those long, narrow yards that developers carved out near lakes to maximize their profit, which means, in turn, that to get something from the backyard to the front yard, you have to haul it along a narrow path past the side of the house, a path that is somewhat more precarious since I installed part of it. And, since you can't bag the leaves, you have to haul them in something else, and we don't have a "something else" at our house. We don't have a wheelbarrow or wagon or anything, really, that's good for hauling, so getting the leaves from the backyard to the front yard is more difficult than it's worth, and I instead began hauling the leaves to a small, remote corner of the backyard that was behind other trees, and dumping them there, with vague thoughts of someday hauling them out of there, or maybe burning them if Sweetie were to ever go away for a weekend.

That worked out fine; the pile was small and was decomposing or composting or whatever it is that leaves do that they can't be allowed to do in a landfill, and I didn't mind it much. Then The Boy stepped in with a plan on his own, a plan I didn't find out about until I went, one day, to the backyard and noticed that the Dead Zone was no longer a small pile of soggy leaves but instead a massive pile of branches and trees and whatnot, a pile that was nearly six feet tall and probably twenty feet wide.

"What's this?" I asked The Boy, who had reluctantly come out to join me for some yard work.

"That's their stuff," he said, pointing to our neighbors' yard. Our next door neighbors have a boy that's in The Boy's grade and he and The Boy are best friends.

"Why is it here?" I asked The Boy.

"Their dad was cutting down trees in his yard and I told him you wouldn't mind if he put the waste here."

I stared at the pile and wondered when I had given The Boy some sort of indication that our yard was suitable for dumping, and wondered, too, what I should do about this. Maybe go next door and tell my neighbor, "I'm sorry, but you'll have to take your garbage back. We've got all we need." Maybe tell The Boy he'd have to haul it to the curb in time for Sylvester McMonkey's next drive-by?

In the end, I did what I do about 99% of the things in my life, which is "decide to deal with it later." I put it on the To Do list that's on our kitchen cabinet, where it sits and waits, behind "Transfer photos and videos to DVD" and ahead of "Get new toy chest for Babies!", waiting for that day that I do one of the chores on that list. It's not likely to get done: That list has existed for about 14 months, since the day I optimistically announced to Sweetie that Sunday afternoons were going to be the day that I'd get some chores done, and had sat down and made a list of chores that needed to be done, a list I'd posted on the cabinet to remind me to do those chores.

I did that on a Sunday afternoon -- it was my first chore, and having made the list, I then decided, fourteen months ago, that I could wait until the next Sunday to begin the list. Since that time, only one thing on the list has been crossed off: Move Bird Feeder, a task that involved me taking the bird feeder that hung in our front window and moving it to the back window. I crossed that one off even though it isn't actually done yet. I did take the bird feeder off the front window, and brought it to the back window, but then I had to stop, because the bird feeder hangs on the window via suction cup, and the day (a month ago) that I moved it, I had no way to wet down the suction cup and stick it to the window: I wasn't about to lick the suction cups to wet them down and get them to stick; that feeder had been outside, in nature, and nature is dirty and probably poisonous, so I don't lick things that have been in nature too long.

Ordinarily, I'd have licked my hand and then wet the suction cup, but on that day, my hands were dirty and encased in even dirtier gloves, and my hands and the gloves had also been in nature that day -- specifically, the part of nature that was a giant mushroom that had grown on the old stump in our yard, and which was gross and had to be torn out and thrown near the curb for Sylvester to vacuum-- and I wasn't about to lick them, either. So I set the bird feeder on the patio table and there it sits, waiting to be licked and hung.

Yesterday being Sunday afternoon, you'd think that I could have finished that task, at least, off the To Do list, and I thought about doing just that, too. I thought about it when I took the Babies! outside to play in the yard, but before I could actually act on the thought, I got engaged in playing with the Babies! and the garden hose, spraying them and spraying myself and filling up their wading pool and trying, via the use of the hose, to keep the bugs off Mr Bunches (something I wasn't entirely successful at, since one bit him near the eye and his eye swelled up and looked as though he'd taken a punch) and before I knew it, it was time to go inside because we were all soaking wet and it was the Babies! naptime.

I was alone in the backyard with the Babies!, because, as I said, nobody else can really, or will really, take them into the backyard. The older kids weren't home, having gone off to their jobs that day already, but even if they were home, they wouldn't have ventured into the backyard. I may not be crazy about nature, with its dirt and bugs and mushrooms and poisons, but I am practically Grizzly Adams compared to the kids, who will not willingly venture outside because it takes them away from television, the Internet, and air conditioning and puts them into contact with grass and sunlight and exercise.

So when it came time to go inside, I had to first stop Mr F from slipping through the tiny gaps in the hedges or trying to get over the Sorta Great Wall into the neighbors' yard, something that got him only more excited because now we weren't just wet, we were wet and running, and that got Mr Bunches vicariously excited: he stood knee deep in his supercold-wading pool and laughed as I chased Mr F, and kept laughing until I grabbed Mr F and put a towel around him, then grabbed Mr Bunches and put a towel around him, at which point they realized that they were going inside and both began howling in the exact pitch necessary to cause an aneurysm, and also have Child Protective Services called.

I carried two struggling, wet, towel-wrapped screaming toddlers inside and got them up to their room, where, while they continued to cry and scream, I got them undressed, dried, and pajamaed and put them in their cribs, popping in a DVD of "Finding Nemo" to quiet them down, and I left them in their room to pretend to nap while I went downstairs to eat lunch and relax.

Sweetie opted to go for a walk and that left me alone in the house with just the baby monitor's soothing sounds of Babies! fidgeting and not sleeping, and I looked at the To Do list and opted to go sit out on the patio and read for a while. The time wasn't a total loss, because I did, for a few minutes, look at the bird feeder sitting on the patio table and think about how I could hang it today, and also think about which window to hang it on.

Then I went to make brownies for Sweetie, in time for her to come home and hang out on the patio with me for a few minutes before we retired up to our room to watch TV and read and doze in the afternoon quiet, a quiet that was broken only by the continued sounds of the Babies! not sleeping.

I knew then, when I got them "up" at 4 p.m. that it would be bad: they'd only fallen asleep at about 3, or maybe a little after, but if we let them sleep longer than that, they'd just be up all night jumping in their beds and talking and crying, so I had to bite the bullet and get them out of bed, which I did via parenting -- "parenting" in this case being "deciding to go buy them stuff."

"Do you guys want to go for a ride?" I asked them. Despite not talking much -- or, at least, not talking our language much -- the Babies! know "go for a ride" and that usually gets them excited enough to stop crying about being woken up and to start crying, instead, about how we haven't left for our ride yet.

The Babies!, both Mr F and Mr Bunches, are amazingly direct people. They will tolerate no deviations from a planned course of action. If I say We're going for a ride, then the only thing I'm allowed to do is pick them up and carry them down to the car and put them in and open the garage door and back the car out and drive. If I do anything to interrupt that process -- anything, including "Using the bathroom before I leave" they will freak out; they will cry and collapse on the floor in a pile of goo and grab my hand to drag me the proper way, or open the door, or all of those things at once.

It's terrible, really, because they are really direct. When we took a walk on Saturday to go to McDonald's and the park, we got to the part of the walk where McDonald's is in sight, just across the intersection, the really busy intersection, and all we had to do was go through the intersection and we'd be there.

We were 2/3 of the way through the intersection, and had reached the point where the crosswalk actually bends a little away from McDonald's, due to the way the intersection is set up. Holding both of their hands, I, too, bent a little away from McDonald's, at which point Mr F realized that we were no longer heading directly at McDonald's and began to cry and complain, thinking apparently that we were not going to McDonald's, and then he collapsed on the ground like he'd been shot, lying there in the crosswalk as we held up traffic from three directions. I had to scoop him up and carry him the rest of the way across.

Yesterday, then, I made the mistake of telling the Babies! we were going for a ride before I had them unpajamaed, which meant that I had to then try to get them dressed while they, in turn, tried to get me to actually get up and go for a ride, resulting in there being lots of me trying to talk reasonably to them and them using their "words" on me and also pushing me towards the door.

I finally got them ready and Sweetie reappeared. "I'm going to take them for a ride," I said. "I thought I'd go to Blockbuster and maybe get them a used DVD or two so they have a new movie." I then invited her to come and said we could swing by the bookstore and get her a new book since she'd finished her last one. "I figure we can spend ten bucks and get them out of the house and get a new movie or two," I told Sweetie.

She agreed and we went to the bookstore first, where we ran into more trouble: Mr Bunches didn't want to ride in the stroller, which meant that he had to have shoes put on, but the only shoes we had were his sandals, which he'd just gotten that morning and which, so far, he hated with a passion I'd rarely seen. When I tried to put them on him before we'd left, he'd flipped around and convulsed and kicked them off. But I couldn't let him walk around the bookstore barefoot -- I have some standards -- so I made him wear his sandals, and then had to carry him anyway because he refused to walk in them.

Sweetie headed off to get her book and I decided to wander past all the people reading and doing homework and go see if they had the Spongebob movie for sale, so we made our way to the higher level of the store and looked around in DVDs. Once there, Mr Bunches decided that maybe he did like his sandals after all, because I set him down for a second and he stamped his foot in anger, learning as he did so that his sandals, when stamped, made a loud slapping sound and also lit up.

He then walked around the DVD section stamp-slapping his feet to make them light and louden up, while Sweetie and I tried to find the Spongebob movie to buy. We found that, and at the same time Mr F, in the stroller, managed to find a Little Einsteins DVD and grow remarkably attached to it instantaneously.

We decided to get two DVDs, because they were having a special on them: Buy 2, get the 3rd free, which meant we could get three DVDs. We finally settled on Monster House as the third, and Sweetie said she would go pay for everything.

Bad idea: when she walked away, Mr F got upset and began crying. That, in turn, got Mr Bunches upset because he thought something was wrong, and they both started being extra loud and extra-cry-ey.

"I'll take them outside," I said, putting into action the plan we'd always said we would do, which was when babies start crying, leave the store. So I picked up Mr Bunches and began pushing the sobbing Mr F in the stroller, heading the circuitous route back down through the store past all the people who were reading and studying and otherwise not shopping for books in the bookstore.

We were on the ramp down to the main level when Mr Bunches got too wriggly and I had to stop and put him down for fear he'd squirm out. "You can walk," I said. "But you have to be good and keep up." I'm not sure what he heard over Mr F wailing, but I trusted him to keep up and began walking down.

At the bottom of the ramp, I looked down and saw Mr Bunches decide to run back up the ramp, all the way (about fifty feet or so), forcing me to turn the stroller around and head back up, too, calling his name out. When I called his name the third time, he heard me and went into his defensive maneuver, which is to drop to his hands and knees and stay like that, motionless, in the hopes that I will not be able to see him.

It didn't work, and I got up to him and picked him up. He began squirming and crying, too, aware that he was busted and that we were leaving the store. I started to head back down and realized that the ramp we were on was too narrow to turn the stroller around. Instead, I had to cautiously back down the ramp, carrying one screaming baby while the other screaming baby sat in the stroller.

(That's when Girl With Computer gave me the look.)

We made it down and I turned the stroller around and headed for the front door, not even pausing to look at the books we were heading by (although I did slow a bit as we went by one particularly interesting rack). We were met by Sweetie at the front door, and she helped me get them outside, where both boys stopped crying instantly as we hit the parking lot.

We got them into the car and I asked Sweetie how much the DVDs had come to.

"Forty dollars," she said. I realized I'd gone a little over budget.

"Did you use your discount card?" I asked -- the membership I'd gotten her at the store.

"Yes," she said.

"So, actually," I did some math in my head "They were only thirty-eight dollars."

We got into the car, where Mr Bunches had already kicked his sandals off and Mr F was sniffling and looking forlornly at the bookstore, and headed back home. I hadn't gotten any chores done, and I'd spent four times what I'd planned, but at least, I figured, the Babies! had some new movies to watch and the main goal of the trip had been to decrabbify them, which it appeared I'd done, judging by their demeanor. And I learned something. Some things, actually. Those things are:

You can't possibly leave a store fast enough under those circumstances, and

You can't possibly kind of browse for books under those circumstances, and

The next time I want to shake the Babies! out of their crabby mood, I'm just going to take them back outside and spray them with the hose again. It's cheaper.