Saturday, November 07, 2009

I think the time is ripe for "Saved By The Bell: The Next Generation." (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 37)

It's back, after a one-week layoff during which there was a hunk, I just didn't get around to posting him. (Sorry, guy who stars on Friday Night Lights and whose name I can't remember and who was supposed to be the Hunk last week. You've been passed over for Hunk. Maybe it'll come back around, maybe not...)

I've used the hiatus to add a new category on Sweetie's Hunk of The Week...

This week's hunk is Jonathan Jackson:


You Don't Know Him Without You watched "General Hospital" from 1993 to 1999, which Sweetie swears she doesn't do, something I believe her about because Sweetie nominated Jonathan this week, and when I asked who he was, she said "He's on General Hospital." Only, as I've just pointed out, he's not. According to his Wikipedia page, he played "Lucky Spencer"

...that is one of the many reasons people hate soap operas and their fans, you know, names like Lucky Spencer...

on GH from 1993-1999.

You could also have seen him make two guest appearances on Boy Meets World in that span. Jonathan truly owned the world in the late 1990s. Well, him and Spinderella. Spinderella, you may remember, not only released the final Salt 'n' Pepa album in 1997, but she also played a key role in Kazaam in 1996, and she opened a beauty parlor that year.

So Sweetie knows about Jonathan from General Hospital, and also from the way-distant pass, making Jonathan the first historical hunk. As for the rest of us, we don't know him at all. We just find his picture on our computer, the way we do each week, and say "Who's this?"

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmmm About Him: He's a member of a band... no, really, called Enation... no, really... and... um... they actually sound pretty good:



I was totally going to make fun of that, but it turned out to be a pretty good song. I bet, though, that I can get a little mileage out of their song "Flint."



Look, Jonathan, you're not helping me out here. Let's see if Sweetie can give me something to work with. I just now mentioned, while playing Flint, that it was this week's hunk. This is the conversation we had:

Sweetie: He's in a band?
Me: With his brother.
Sweetie: The brother that took over for Zack on Saved by the Bell?

That, by the way, follows us watching The Soup last night and seeing a clip of a woman on Nip/Tuck, which prompted Sweetie to say "She was on Saved By The Bell: The College Years."

So, Jonathan, you may be an actor who's also in a band and who has a sister who's a best-selling author, but I am married to someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of the casting on Saved By The Bell.

I noticed, too, that apparently Lucky Spencer has made a comeback, because Jonathan has credits for that role in 2009, which means we may also be on the verge of a Spinderella comeback:



Awesome.

Odds, based on his roles in the past, that Jonathan would win a fight against an obscure superhero or strange animal that I think off off the top of my head: I woke up this morning thinking three things: (1) Those giant salamanders on Planet Earth last night were really freaky, (2) What were the Blue Beetle's powers, and (3) Didn't Dana Delaney freak out at some point along the way and make Hollywood hate her?

Now, some among you will be thinking What does this guy eat before he goes to bed? Others will be thinking Yeah, I thought Dana Delaney went nuts or something, too, while still others are thinking "Giant salamanders vs. Jonathan Jackson? That sounds like the kind of thing I'd watch on Pay Per View, if it was hosted by Spinderella."

The answer to all of your questions is "Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch mixed in with a bit of S'mores Cereal, and a Coke Zero." And also, "If you Google the question Did Dana Delaney Freak Out" you'll get to Dana's website where you'll find there's a forum on which Dana fans (?) can discuss the burning issues of the day, like "health care" and "whether something being available in French also means it is available in German," as seen by this actual comment:

Hey Michael and greetings to my neighbour country:-) I can recommend my favorite Dana movies. They both belong to the the Western genre: "Tombstone" and "True women". They're both available in German, so I conclude that you can also buy them in French.

I also spoke too soon. There is no debate, on that site, over health care. But there is a claim that Dana Delaney is:

Sometimes annoying but …. Irresistible. ;-)

What's the wink for?

So, could Dana Delaney beat up a giant salamander? Tune in to the next Spinderella's All-Star Challenge and find out!

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: I actually doubt that anyone could beat up a giant salamander. They're, like, six feet long and they live in supercold water and have these little nodes on their head that sense changes in the currents... but I'm getting a little distracted. I'm going to get back on track by saying that Sweetie likes Jonathan Jackson because... um... he was on Saved By The Bell? I don't know. I'm confused, now.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "I don't know. I have no idea why."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him:
That answer, given by Sweetie this morning, would make sense if it were me talking. I frequently do things without having a clue as to why I do them, or forget why I was doing them because I'm thinking about giant salamanders. But Sweetie? Sweetie never does anything without a reason, which means... she's hiding something. There's some secret reason that she likes Jonathan Jackson. Something so dark, so twisted, so scary that Sweetie can't reveal it to me (and the entire Internet) for posting on this blog. Sweetie has a secret!

And I think I know what it is: I bet she's got a Lucky Spencer tattoo! 'Fess up, Sweetie: You've got a picture of Hunk 37 somewhere, permanently inked on you, don't you? And since you probably got it back in the 1990s, when he first rose to fame, it probably looks exactly like this:




Or, worse, this:



These might be actual sites, given the state of the Internet today.

We've been looking around at my firm to try to update our website, which currently looks as though it was designed, and implemented, in 1883. (Stupid Grover-Cleveland.org!) It fell upon me to search through the Internet for examples of sites that I liked. I did that for nearly a year before my boss said "I didn't mean sites you like to read, but sites you thought would be good for a lawfirm... (Stupid Hilarious-Guinea-Pig-Jokes.net!)

I did, though, come upon MiradoWeb studio, a great web design firm that will quickly and affordably make a cool, modern website that actually performs the way you want it to, and they'll help optimize the site for search engines. Their prices are negotiable and they really, really know what theyr'e doing.

With that done, I reported back to my boss and went on with my usual work... of surfing the Internet for funny sites, and sometimes suing people. I love my job.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Grocery Shopping In An Alternate Universe: A Parable.


I was one of the lucky ones, I suppose.

I was able to get hired by an employer who offered a great grocery plan. And not only that, but the plan covered my family, which meant that only a few months after getting hired, we'd be able to get to the grocery store almost any time we wanted and buy food.

I liked the plan. Even though I had to pay 15% of my income each month towards groceries (whether or not I bought any), my employer was paying 85% of the cost (whether or not I bought groceries), so I could accept that part of my pay was being taken towards necessities I might never use. It even kind of made sense to me that my employer covered 85% of the cost of the Grocery Plan for the higher-ups who made 2 or 3 or 4 times what I made. Sure, they could afford to pay more for their groceries -- and if they did so, it would reduce my own costs-- and, yeah, 15% of my just-about-minimum wage earnings really kind of hurt a lot more than if I was paying, say, 15% of $200,000 like the guys at the top, but it seemed fair, to me, that we all paid the same exact percentage. Besides, whenever it came up in my mind, I just reminded myself to look only at the percentages, not the actual dollars.

In just three short months, I was covered under the Grocery Plan and it was about time, too, as the kids and my wife were really hungry. We'd put off going to the grocery store until we were covered, but not by choice: Without a Grocery Plan, we couldn't find a grocery store that would let us in unless we paid in advance for everything we wanted.

"But I don't know what I want, yet," I told one lady on the phone. "I don't even know what you offer or what it costs. How can I pay for it in advance?"

She was apologetic and said that's just the way it works.

So anyway, when my Grocery Plan went into effect, I called up and got pre-approval to go to one of the three grocery stores that were kind of near us. The one I really wanted to go to, just down the street, wasn't in the plan, but I could deal with that. I don't mind driving a little, especially because it's important to control the costs of groceries by using only pre-approved stores.

My wife asked "What if we just need a gallon of milk in a hurry? Can't we just run to the Store nearby?" So I asked the insurance lady that, and she said that we could, in an emergency, but that they might not pay for the groceries if we did that and we should try to call them first. Anyway, my wife's just a worrywart. We can plan ahead and never need to run out and get milk at the last minute.

Once I had the pre-approval, I drove to the grocery store, but they told me I needed an appointment to shop. When I asked how long it would be until I could get an appointment, they said they could get me in during the afternoon on Tuesday, three weeks from now.

I wasn't starving, yet, but the kids were pretty hungry. The littlest one, Mr Bunches, hadn't eaten since I lost my last job and I was worried that maybe it was starting to affect him.

"Isn't there any way I could get some groceries today?" I asked the lady at the desk. She said that there was an Urgent Groceries across town, if I felt it was that important.

I pictured Mr Bunches and the way he'd stared longingly at the refrigerator, and decided this was pretty urgent. Not a Grocery Emergency or anything, but pretty Urgent. And besides, even if it wasn't terribly urgent, what other choice did I have? I might have been able to wait a day or two, but three weeks?

So I drove to the Urgent Groceries and went inside. The lady at the front desk asked to see my card and asked what I was there for.

"I need some groceries, today," I said. "I've got some little kids, and a wife, at home, and they haven't eaten in a long time." She looked skeptical, like I didn't belong there, and I wanted to say "Hey, it's your fault that I couldn't get into the regular grocery store," but I didn't, because I didn't want to get them mad at me.

She handed me some forms and said that there was a $100 copay, which really surprised me. "I already pay a premium, through my work," I said. "It's 15% of my income, the same as everyone else's in the business, even the higher-ups -- they make, like 3 times what I do but we all pay the same share, so that's fair, right?"

She said that the co-pay is in addition to the premium, and said I should look at my Grocery Card. I'd never looked at it before -- that whole stack of Grocery Policy Papers and things they'd given me was pretty confusing, and I hadn't read it anyway because it was the only policy my boss offered, so it didn't matter whether I liked it or not, I had to take it or leave it. I didn't really like that I'd pay more every time I went to the Store, but I figured if it became a problem I'd limit my trips, go only when I absolutely had to.

The card said that the copay was $50, and I showed it to her. "That's for regular shopping, not Urgent Groceries," she said. "Urgent Groceries are double."

"I have to pay more if it's more urgent?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, and she didn't sound sympathetic.

"But it's not even my fault I'm here. I tried to go to the regular Grocery Store and they didn't let me in."

"Sorry," she said, but she didn't sound sorry. I had to write out a check for this "copay" and hope that they wouldn't cash it before I got paid on Friday, but what could I do? I needed groceries, and I didn't want to go home and see Sweetie and Mr F and The Boy staring at me.

Then she gave me some forms and said to check in with the receptionist, which was weird because I thought that's what I'd done. But I began filling out the forms and telling them my grocery history, as best as I could. I'd never had Groceries before, so I wasn't really sure how to answer some of the questions.

I sat in the waiting room for about 50 minutes, but I didn't mind because I knew I probably shouldn't have been there. I mean, when I looked at the other Urgent Grocery shoppers waiting their turn, they all looked worse than me. One guy kept smacking his lips and saying "Hamburgers!" over and over, and his eyes looked glazed. There was a little girl there who looked really thin and pale, like she'd never eaten. I thought she should have gone to the Emergency Groceries, or maybe even a Fast Food Place. I didn't mind that she got to go shopping ahead of me.

There were a couple other people like me, though, who didn't seem to really be that needy. I bet they'd done what I did: Just realized that they kind of needed to get some Groceries, and couldn't wait 3 weeks.

While I was sitting there, I couldn't help but wonder why it was that the Regular Grocery Stores weren't open past 5 p.m., or before 9 a.m., or even on the weekends. It might make it easier if they were open longer, or had different shifts. I mean, for regular grocery shopping, I'd have to take time off of work just to go get some potato chips, and if I couldn't do that, I'd always be at the Urgent Grocery Store, since that was the only one open past 5 or on weekends.

Oh, well, I figured. They know what they're doing. It's not up to me to second guess how the grocery business is run.

When they finally called my name, I stopped reading the old Shoppers' Guide they had in the waiting room and got up with my list in hand. I was actually kind of excited: I'd waited so long for this and now I was finally going to get some Groceries!

I took the list Sweetie had made and moved into the store. The first thing I needed was the Bakery, to get some Bread. I didn't see a sign for that, and I asked the clerk up front.

"We don't have a Bakery," she said. "This is an Urgent Grocery, so you can't get everything you need here. If you really need something that's not here, we can refer you. The Emergency Grocery has everything, downtown."

I decided that I didn't need Bread so much, and moved into the Cereal aisle. The selection was pretty slim there, too -- just the bare necessities, but that's what you get, I figured, when you have to go to the Grocery Store after hours. I walked around that aisle for a while trying to figure out which one to get, but I'd never had any cereal before and couldn't tell whether any of them was better than the other, or which one I might need, let alone which one a 3-year-old or my wife might need.

There was a Cereal Assistant, though, and I asked her whether she would recommend one or the other Cereals in the aisle. "I can't really recommend anything," she said. "I'm here to take information from you and pass it on to the Cereal Specialist. Then he and I will talk it over and he'll tell you what you need."

So I answered her questions ("I like sweetened cereal for the boys," I said, and "Maybe something with raisins.") She put it all into her computer, and nodded, and then said she'd be back in a while or the Cereal Specialist would come in in a bit.

After about 10 minutes, the Cereal Specialist came in. He asked me the same questions the Cereal Assistant had, looked at my stomach and my cart (which was still empty) and said "You need corn flakes."

"How much are they?" I asked.

"I don't know," he said, "But I'm sure your insurance will cover it. You should talk to them about it." He handed me a box of corn flakes and then patted my shoulder and said to make a follow-up appointment about a week before the box was empty.

I put the cornflakes in the cart and walked past all the other cereals, wondering why I had corn flakes instead of one of those other ones. It kind of bugged me, to tell you the truth. I'm not the smartest guy about these things, I know, but I saw a Dateline report a couple months ago where they were talking about how corn flakes don't really do that much to curb hunger, and they're not all that nutritious or tasty. I didn't watch the whole thing ('cause... boring), but I got enough to know that maybe I'd never try corn flakes.

Still, he was the Cereal Specialist, and nobody's ever really sure about these things, right?

I did know I needed milk for the corn flakes, and I headed over to the Dairy Aisle. All the milk was behind a counter, where a lady stood in a white coat. I wondered if she was a doctor, and asked her.

"No, I'm the Milk-A-Cist," she said.

"Oh," I said. "I need some milk for these corn flakes. We're going to eat tonight!"

"Did you call your prescription in ahead of time?" she asked.

"Prescription?" I asked.

"I can't sell you most milks without a prescription from the Specialist," she said. "If you've called it in, it'll probably be ready. Otherwise, you might have to wait."

"I've been here a pretty long time already," I said, "And I didn't ask about a prescription in the Cereal Aisle. Isn't there anything you can sell me?"

"We've got some over-the-counter stuff that might work, almost as good," the Milk-A-Cist said.

"Let me have some of that," I said, and she pulled out a bottle of water.

Water with cereal? I wasn't sure about that, but, I'm not Grocery Expert. I didn't go to Grocery School for 8 years or anything, so how should I know what's best? Besides, what else could I do?

"Will that work with cereal?" I asked her.

"I'm not supposed to give advice like that," she said, "But the label says it should be okay. Do you have any allergies to water?"

But I didn't know. I'd never been to the Groceries before. Then I had another thought: "Is that okay for 3-year-olds?" I asked.

She shook her head. "No, you'll need Childrens' Water for them." So she got some of that, too, and then rang it up. I showed her my insurance card, but she shook her head.

"No," she said. "Prescription Milk would be covered, mostly, but for over-the-counter things, you've got to pay cash."

That didn't make any sense to me at all, but, again, who am I to say what makes sense in these things and what doesn't? All these complexities are probably just lost on me. They must be, since the other day a guy on the radio said that we have the Greatest Grocery System In The World. So the weird stuff must work, and I'm not questioning it.

I paid for the waters and then was going to head out, but I looked down and thought Cereal and water doesn't seem like much of a meal, so I decided to try and get something a little more hearty. I headed back to the Meat Department to look for some chicken or something.

But at the Meat Department, there was another clerk. She said "Do you have an appointment?"

"No," I said, "But I didn't think I needed one. This is the Urgent Groceries, right?"

She shook her head. "The Meat Department is a specialist. We can't see you unless you have a referral."

"What's that?" I asked. She sighed and said:

"You have to go back to your regular Grocery Person and get them to refer you to us. Then you call us and make an appointment, and we'll help you with your Meat needs."

"I don't have a regular Grocery Person," I said. "I've only just gotten on a Grocery Plan."

"You should call your plan administrator and ask them to assign you a regular Grocery Person," she said. She seemed pretty nice and added "I'd like to help you, but that's all I can do."

I was really kind of upset. I didn't take it out on her, or the Meat Department, though. It was probably a law, I figured -- probably some stupid government law that was keeping them from helping me right now. Those God damn regulations! It's always like that: every time the government does anything they screw it up. I said that to her:

"Stupid Congress, right?" I nodded. She shook her head, though, and said:

"No, sir, it's just the Policy requirements."

I didn't know what that meant, though. So I thanked her and then said:

"Do you know who my Plan Administrator is?"

She said it was probably in my Policy, whatever that is. There was a 1-800 number on the back of my card, though, so I used my cell phone to call it while I walked back towards the front of the store. I couldn't get a hold of anyone, though. They said to call back during "normal business hours." That made sense: I worked during the day, so they must, too. I'd try to call the next day, I figured, on my lunch break.

Luckily for me, I didn't have to check out at all -- my Grocery Plan was going to pay for EVERYTHING. Except the water, of course. I showed my cereal to the cashier as I went out and she motioned to me.

"We need your address," she said.

"Why?" I asked.

"To send your statement of benefits," she said.

Whatever that is. I gave it to her. She also made me make a follow-up appointment. "Will I get more groceries that day?" I asked. She shook her head and said "It's just to see how these groceries went." I wondered if I'd have to pay a co-pay for that, too, but I figured I could just cancel it. She said I couldn't just call in and talk to them, either, and I'm not going to miss a day of work if the Groceries are fine.

I headed on home, where we feasted on corn flakes and cereal. The Boy complained about the dinner, saying that his friend's dad, when he got hungry, had gotten to go to a fancy restaurant and have a three-course meal.

"Well, what Grocery Plan does he have?" I asked. The Boy didn't know what a Grocery Plan was, so I explained to him that everyone has to have a Grocery Plan, that there's companies out there that will "cover" your Groceries, so that when you get hungry, you go to the Store and they tell you what groceries to get, and then they pay for him.

"Why do they do that?" The Boy asked.

"Because it makes sense," I said. "Nobody knows in advance how much their groceries are going to be, and when they'll need them..." but he interrupted.

"But you know you will need them, right?"

"Maybe," I said. "Not everyone needs groceries."

He shook his head. I could see he didn't get it, and he said "Everyone will need groceries some time or other." I didn't know how else to explain it to him, so I said

"Well, if they need groceries, they get on a Grocery Plan through work and then they'll get them."

"Can't they just buy a Grocery Plan?" The Boy asked. Sweetie and I laughed at that.

"Sure," I said. " I suppose they could just call a Grocery Plan Company and sign up but that'd cost them a bundle. It's better to get a job and have their boss give it to them."

The Boy still looked a little confused and said "But doesn't everyone need to eat? Shouldn't everyone be entitled to at least get some groceries, somehow?"

You've got to expect that from kids: They think that everything's a right, that things like groceries are just guaranteed to be given to you and that somehow, society can guarantee that. I tried to set him straight:

"Everyone can get groceries, if they want, Boy," I said. "But you can't just go around handing them out. We're not Russia, you know. That kind of thing doesn't work. Besides, imagine if the government were to take over the grocery industry!" Sweetie laughed at that, too.

"The government does pretty good with some things," The Boy said. He's probably got teachers that fill his head with that crap.

"Like what?" I challenged him.

"They deliver the mail all over the country, pretty quick, and it's cheap, too. You can mail a letter for less than fifty cents and it'll go from Maine to Alaska in a day or two."

I didn't even know where to begin with that one. "The Post Office?" I said. "That's your idea of government efficiency? Have you ever seen the lines at the Post Office? You wait forever just to get stamps, and the government has to pay the Post Office just to keep it in business." He was being ridiculous. I mean, yeah, I had to wait to get into the Urgent Groceries, but that was different because it wasn't the regular grocery store, which I could have gone right into if I'd had an appointment, plus, once I was in the Urgent Groceries, I'd hardly waited at all.

"Why do they do that?" The Boy asked. "Why do they pay to keep the Post Office running?"

I'd never thought of that, but I gave him an answer: "I guess," I said, "It's because it's important to the government, and people, that everyone gets to mail a letter or send a package and keep in communication with people."

"Aren't Groceries as important as mail?" The Boy asked.

"No," I said, "It's not that. Everyone agrees Groceries are important, but if the Government got into the Grocery business, it would put the private Grocery Companies out of business, and plus, nobody would want to go into the Grocery Store end of it." Something about that bugged me -- I kept thinking of Federal Express and UPS and the Post Office, for some reason, but I shrugged it aside. "We've got the Best Grocery System In the World, and you don't want to mess with that, right?" I figured if the guy on the radio swayed me, it'd sway The Boy.

That was the end of that, more or less. I was going to, the next day, call ahead and make a Grocery Appointment so I could go to the regular store in three weeks, since the follow-up appointment wasn't for new Groceries, but I was pretty busy and, anyway, I had groceries now, so I didn't need an appointment for three weeks away. I didn't know how long the corn flakes would last, but I guessed that if I couldn't get in when they ran out, I'd just go to the Urgent Groceries again.

The only real shocker was that about 3 months later, we got this thing in the mail. We got, like, four things, actually, all these papers that said This Is Not A Bill and had all kinds of figures and numbers on them. I couldn't figure them out -- I've been to college, but these were confusing -- but I didn't need to figure them out. Since they said This Is Not A Bill, I didn't need to do anything so I just threw them away.

The fourth one, though, was a bill, and it was for $4,000. Four thousand bucks! And they said it had to be paid within 30 days or they might send me to a collection agency.

I didn't have four grand sitting around, and anyway, I had a Grocery Plan, so this had to be a mistake. I finally got a chance to call the number on the bill and talk to the lady -- I had to go outside at work to do it because I'm not supposed to make personal phone calls -- and I said that it had to be a mistake because I had a Plan and because it was so expensive.

"I didn't even know how much those corn flakes cost!" I said, and she said that she was sorry about that but there was nothing she could do.

"But the Cereal Specialist said I needed those corn flakes and didn't give me a choice," I said. She didn't have any answer for that one, so I said "Well, anyway, it must be a mistake because I've got a Plan, so I don't have to pay for corn flakes."

"It's not a mistake, sir," she said. "You're not covered for those benefits you received," and when I asked what that meant, she said that because I was a new enrollee, I wasn't covered for Hunger, as that was something she said was a "pre-existing condition."

"You mean," I said, "If I was hungry when I went shopping, you wouldn't pay for it, but if I wasn't hungry, then you would?"

"Exactly," she said. She explained that helped keep their costs down so that I could afford the Grocery Plan.

I tried to make a payment plan, but she said they didn't do that, and that I'd have to pay in full or they might garnish my wages. I talked to a guy I know about this, and he said that maybe a lawyer could help me, but all the lawyers I talked to just said that I could file bankruptcy, and I don't want to do that if I don't have to. I've been just sending them $20 here and there, whenever we have a little extra money, and hoping that they don't sue me or something. I can't keep that up for long, though, since my boss said that they're going to have to start charging the employees more for Grocery Plans to make ends meet at the business. So they're going to raise the contribution to 25%, which seems fair, I guess because with the recession and all, everyone's cutting back and I don't want to get laid off, so paying more seems like a good idea if it keeps me in my job. We couldn't ask many questions, since he told us about it on a conference call; he's on vacation right now, someplace warm like Guatamala or something, but he said even he's going to pay 25% of his wages, so it's not like I'm the only one sacrificing.

_____________________________________________________________

You wouldn't put up with that kind of thing for groceries... so why put up with it for health care?

Tomorrow, or soon, the House of Representatives is going to vote on the health care reform bill. This bill is not everything that's needed -- but it's a good step along the way.

Health care is a basic right that America should guarantee to everyone, and you can help. Contact your representative and tell him or her that you want Universal Health Care. See the links below.

Then contact the White House, and remind President Obama that he said this:


'We can have universal health care by the end of the next president's first term, by the end of my first term,'' Obama said, bringing 600 union workers to their feet during a question-and-answer session with members of AFL-CIO affiliated unions...


And tell him to quit mucking around and get Health Care Reform passed!


To contact your legislator, click this link and follow the simple directions
.

To contact the White House, click this link and fill in the form.




It all makes sense if you read it a couple times. (3 Good Things from 11/5/09)


1. Sweetie ordered the Yankees t-shirts, and they weren't that expensive. As a result of losing my World Series bet with The Boy -- I was wiped out before the Series started, when none of the teams I chose at the start of the playoffs even made the series-- I had to buy him and the Babies! each a Yankees' t-shirt. Sweetie went ahead and ordered them for me, and they were only $40, total, so I got off kind of easy on this one.

2. I accidentally didn't forget my keys, which may not make sense until I explain: I was leaving work and almost out of the building when I realized that I'd left my cell phone in my office. I was going to leave it there, but then I thought "I'm running late, so it'd be nice if I called Sweetie to let her know I'm on my way," and I went back up and got the cell phone, at which point I discovered that I'd left my car keys on my desk, too. Which meant that if I hadn't gone back to get the phone, I'd have walked a couple blocks to my car, only to have to turn around and go back anyway. But because I remembered I forgot my cell phone, I accidentally didn't forget my keys.

3. Rapping the alphabet is harder, but more fun, than you'd imagine. Every night, in the tub, I sing the "Alphabet Song" to the Babies! as a bit of learning time. Last night, I tried mixing it up, singing it to the rhythm of Handlebars, by Flobots, and then trying to rap the alphabet to the the rhythm of Parents Just Don't Understand. It's way, way harder -- but way more fun -- than you'd ever guess. Try it and see.

I wonder what would happen if I checked there for "Cookies."

I'm tired of the long hanging blinds in our house.

We have these vertical blinds that hand down in front of all the windows on our main floor, and at first, I thought they were great -- different and jazzy and fun, they could be set to let in sunlight while people still couldn't see in, etc. etc. blah blah blah but I'm sick of them, now.

Part of my sick-of-them-ness is that they don't work. They're always getting tangled, and the Babies! pull on them and pull them out, and they no longer look fresh or classy or new or jazzy.

So I'm thinking of smartening up our living room by getting some Pleated Curtains. Which I can do because I can get them online. If there's one thing I hate worse than these blinds, now, it's shopping around for home decorations. I never know which stores to go to, there's salespeople who bug me, and it takes forever.

But with SHOP.COM I don't have to worry about that. I just go to their site, search for what I'm looking for ("Pleated curtains") and I get a whole page of options, with prices starting at $19.00. They link me through to the store that sells them, so I don't even need to know what I'm doing (which is a bonus for me, every time.)

There's pictures, so I can see what it is I'm getting, and I don't have to get in the car or drive around or bother myself at all. I can order them (if I can find the credit cards in Sweetie's newest hiding place) and then go back to watching TV, or sleeping, or getting the Babies! to stop wrecking something else.

P.S.: I did what the header to this post suggested, and YEAH! they've got cookies, too!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Surprise Is That There's No Surprise (Thinking The Lions... Essays About Stuff)





I have always, since the Pound Puppy Incident, had a real problem with surprises and presents in general, and that came to a head on Sweetie's birthday the other day.

This year, Sweetie's actual birthday fell on the fourth day of celebration of her birthday. Sweetie's birthday has always been too big to be contained with just a single day. While she'll generally deny that her birthday is a big deal to her, she's lying and she knows it: her birthday ranks in importance right up there with all other major holidays, and like all other major holidays, Sweetie's birthday now includes an eve and an observed day and, most recently, also includes a day off of work for her, and kind of a day off of work for me.

The expansion of Sweetie's Birthday celebration began a few years back. There are two rock-solid traditions that we've observed on most of Sweetie's Birthdays: 1. We go to a movie, and 2. We eat Whoppers from Burger King.

The latter started with the tradition, in our house, that on your birthday, you get to choose the exact meal you want and, if necessary, inflict that on everyone else who eats dinner with you that day. The rest of the family has to eat what you choose, with no complaints, and all the kids have always gone along with that tradition, or at least half of it: they still complain. But they complain about everything, and after a while, you start not noticing it, like how people in Seattle don't notice the rain or people who watch Law & Order don't notice that it's always the same exact show.

Over the years, the You-choose-the-meal tradition has changed only a little. For example, I do not choose the meal, or my cake, because nobody likes the things that I like and there's too much complaining about it; and, when the complaining ends, I'm left with all the leftovers that the kids don't eat. Which isn't too bad, but even I get sick of the choices I make on occasion. I don't really like cake to begin with -- it's not snack food-y enough -- so being left with a cake that sounded good, like "Butter Pecan cake with Orange Frosting" can be a drag because I, like most dads, have the responsibility to eat all the leftovers and foods that people bought but didn't eat. Dads don't throw away food; we learn that early on from our own Dads, who also didn't throw away food. Regardless of what kind of food it was, how old it was, how unidentifiable it was, or how tiny the bits of food were, our dads didn't throw it out and neither do we.

Being responsible for not throwing away food is one way that I end up, from time to time, having "Mix Chips" full of potato chips and snack foods I don't like -- not individually and not mixed together -- but which I eat, anyway, as a Dad-ly duty. The kids, or Sweetie, will buy a snack food they think they like, like "plain corn nacho chips" that they buy on the premise (I assume) that those things are "healthier" than other potato chips, but which after they buy they realize they don't like and leave them to rot in our cupboard, until I take the non-eaten bag of plain tortilla chips ("plain" meaning "completely flavorless") and dump them into the giant Tupperware bowl of mixed chips I keep around to avoid food going to waste.

I question, as I dump those chips in, the entire premise that there's a healthier kind of snack food, anyway. Every now and then, one of the kids will ask me a question along the lines of "Which is healthier, this or that?" The this is typically something like "a Snickers bar" while the that is generally "A bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup." My response to them is, invariably, "An apple."

Don't get me wrong: I am not in any way advocating eating an apple, or any other "healthy" food. I am only pointing out to them that if the question is "Which is healthier, a candy bar or ice cream," then the entire question is misguided. That question is akin to asking "Which is faster, mountains or outer space?" In that conceptually, at least, one could be deemed faster than the other, but neither one is, overall, the kind of thing that's fast, and the options the kids present me with in the which is healthier question are, likewise, not healthy at all. They don't get the point, though, and continue to try to buy, every now and then, "healthy" snacks.

Sweetie is like that: Sweetie buys, about two times per year, Saltines. This used to make me say "Why do you buy Saltines?" but now I ask a more pertinent question, which is this: "Why do Saltines even exist?" What's the point of a Saltine, after all? A cracker which is purposely made to be completely devoid of flavor, color, even substance? They're like the dark matter of crackers, except that Saltines, unlike Dark Matter, aren't entirely fictitious creations made up by scientists who can't be bothered to think; I can prove Saltines exist. They're sitting right there, in our snack cupboard, untouched since they were bought several months ago.

Saltines are so bad that I don't even mix them into the Mix Chips bowl, and that's saying something, because I put everything else in there: graham crackers (which I buy for the Babies! but which they don't eat), frosted Circus Cookies (ditto), leftover corn chips from Taco Salad night, a couple of Pringles from the two cans of Pringles I found hidden in the way-high cabinet above the refrigerator, cans that would still be there if I hadn't used my day off to clean 1/2 the kitchen one day (I'd have cleaned the whole thing but I promised the Babies! that we'd watch a movie that day, too) and any other chips or crackers or even cereal that happens to be leftover: all of it gets dumped into the large white Tupperware bowl we stole from Sweetie's mom one year, and all of it then serves as my "chip" course for lunches and dinners, the frosted cookies and generic Oreos offsetting the blandosity of the tortillas and other "healthy" snacks.

But no Saltines. They're too gross.

In addition to my own decision to not choose my own meal for birthdays, but instead to try to pick something the kids will like, we've had to alter the kids' ability to choose their own meals, because they were getting expensive. The kids graduated from saying things like "I want pizza" to "I want to have the whole family go to the really fancy italian restaurant where we'll all order individual appetizers and then whole entrees, plus "Nada-rita" kiddie Margaritas, all of which will cost about $150, and to top it off we won't be able to eat our entrees because we filled up on Nada-ritas and appetizers, so we'll take it all home and then throw them out after a few days because leftovers are gross."

After a few rounds of that, we told the kids they had to pick a meal we could eat at home, or at least which could be delivered, or at least picked up, like we do annually when The Boy chooses gyros for his birthday dinner and I drive to another city to get them from the restaurant where we always have a half-off coupon.

Sweetie's Choose Your Own Birthday Meal a couple years back was "Whoppers" from Burger King (of course). I don't know how she happened to hit on that, since there's not a Burger King near us and we never go to the only one in Madison - -or never did, since now we go there once a year -- but she opted for Whoppers, which prompted the kids to immediately spring into action and start complaining. "Do we have to get Whoppers?" they ask -- and still do, each year, and ask "Do I have to get the same toppings on as Mom?" and they ask "Can I get fries?" and each year I field those questions before driving off to the Burger King to get Sweetie's Birthday Whoppers for her birthday dinner. (The answers are, respectively, "Yes," "No," and "Yes, why would you think that you couldn't get french fries with your dinner? Where are you getting that from? You're just trying to be difficult.")

Over time, as the Whoppers, and the Whopper-Related Complaining, became entrenched as Sweetie's Birthday Traditions, we added in "Go see a movie," because Sweetie likes movies and it was a nice treat for her for us all to take Sweetie out to see a movie. That's how Sweetie's birthday expanded beyond just the one, or two, days we used to celebrate it on: One year, there was more than one movie Sweetie wanted to see, so we had to take her to all of them, seeing a couple of movies over a couple of weeks. Just like Christmas expanding outwards to Thanksgiving, Sweetie's Birthday began to creep out and take over surrounding weekends.

This year, Sweetie's Birthday really came into its own. Each year, I try my hardest to top the prior year in terms of Birthday Excellence, a feat which is terribly difficult first because I rarely am aware that Sweetie's birthday is coming up, and so I always end up scrambling around at the last second with no time and no money, and second because I'm paralyzed by The Pound Puppy Incident, which has scarred me for my whole life and left me gun-shy about presents and surprises.

The Pound Puppy Incident involves my little sister, Katie, who was at the center of the Incident. When Katie was very little, she liked "Pound Puppies," toys that were like Beanie Babies before Beanie Babies were invented. People who think Beanie Babies were something new and unique should know about Pound Puppies, which were around about 20 years before Beanie Babies but which were otherwise like the Beanie Babies in that they were phenomenally popular and also really dumb.

Dumb or not, Katie loved Pound Puppies with a fervor matched only by her love of dragging our dog, Annabelle, around by the ears and trying to dress her up. Katie couldn't get enough of Pound Puppies and was constantly thinking about them in between hitting her older brothers on the head with toy trains. The only thing that diverted her from thinking about Pound Puppies, as far as I could tell, was getting us in trouble, like the time she insisted that she wanted nothing for lunch except a "liverwurst and jelly" sandwich. We finally gave in and made her that, only she then refused to eat it -- and refused to eat anything -- and then complained to our mom that we made her eat that sandwich for lunch and wouldn't make her anything else. Mom ignored our protests and explanations and insisted that we "knew betteer" and made us eat liverwurst-and-jelly sandwiches for dinner.

(They were still better than saltines.)

But Pound Puppies occupied more of Katie's mind than liverwurst-related schemes, and she was constantly on the lookout for new ones. I didn't realize the extent to which she was hooked on the Puppies, though, until the day I brought her home what I thought was a good surprise, a Penny Racer.

Penny Racers were those little cars that you could wind a little and they'd zip around on the floor; if you put a penny in the back, you could make them do wheelies and spin around. Penny Racers were like the Nintendo Wii of the early 80s, if Nintendo Wiis wore out their welcome twenty seconds after you got them. (Penny Racers have, I assume joined a museum of toys, sitting in the branch of "Toys Whose Appeal Is Not Longlasting," where they line up alongside "Wacky Wall Walkers," "Micro-Machines," and "Simon.")

I'd gotten a Penny Racer somewhere and when I'd called home, I'd told Katie I was "bringing her a surprise." She was all excited and when I got home, I pulled out the Penny Racer and gave it to her and she burst into tears at the sight of it. That's not exactly the reaction I, or the makers of Penny Racers, was hoping for. When I asked what was wrong, she said "I wanted a Pound Puppy!" and wailed away crying, leaving me to try to cheer her up by pretending to bump into walls, which usually worked (but didn't that time.)

Since that day, I've lived with a secret fear that the surprise I'm getting for the person is not good enough, is not a Pound Puppy, and I've done everything I can, when I'm forced to give someone a present or surprise, to lower expectations: "It's not very good," I'll say. "It's not much," I warn people in advance. "I got you crummy presents," I tell Sweetie all the time. I told her that before I surprised her with a trip to Mexico on January. "It's not much," I said of the all-expenses paid trip to a resort in Puerta Vallarta, and then held my breath as she opened the card, waiting for her to start bawling and saying she'd wanted a "Pound Puppy" instead of a week on the beach.

It doesn't even help when the person tells me exactly what they want and I go get that, as Sweetie and I now do each year: she gives me a list, and I get the stuff on the list, as much as I can afford. Even then, though, I worry about the surprise and worry that I've gotten the wrong thing and I try to dampen expectations, like I did this year with the stuff I got her.

First, I got her a gift certificate for a day at the spa -- and agreed to take off the Friday before her birthday (thereby extending SweetieFest into October for the first time, and making Sweetie's Birthday, technically, kind of a legal holiday) so that she could have a day off and go to the spa. It was only after I got the certificate and managed to have a day clear so that I could take the day off that I realized that meant that I would have to give Sweetie her present before her birthday, or she wouldn't be able to use it for the Friday off that I was giving her, too.

Which meant, then, that I had to get her a different present, too, since now she would have nothing to open up from me (and the Babies!) on her actual birthday, which was only being observed on Friday but which actually fell on Monday. So I decided I'd get her some pajamas to give to her on her birthday, and give her the gift certificate on Friday morning so she could go to the spa, but that meant, then, that I was still in trouble, because what if I gave her the certificate for the spa but they were all booked up that day?

I decided that I'd give her the gift certificate earlier, on Sunday before the Friday on which we were observing her birthday, but then I forgot to do that, so I ended up calling her from work on Monday and telling her where I'd hidden the gift certificate (my sock drawer, left hand side) so she could go get it and open it and make a reservation, which she did, on Monday, leaving me nothing to give her on Friday.

Now, I know, I gave her the gift certificate and was taking the day off of work to watch the Babies! for her so she could go to a spa and have seaweed stuffed in her nose or whatever they do, but I still felt like I had to do something to honor the Friday, that being the first day of her Birthday weekend, so I decided that I'd watch a movie with her -- The Proposal-- since going to a movie was impossible that day, impossible because we have the Babies! and no babysitter, since I hadn't planned this out.

We tried to watch The Proposal that night, Friday night, as a couple, and as part of her ongoing Month of Sweetie, but it didn't work out because the Babies! kept acting up and my brother called and we ended up getting through only about 1/3 of it, so now I felt even worse about her birthday (even though it wasn't her birthday yet) because I felt like she'd gotten nothing yet and that I needed to make it up to her somehow.

Saturday it was tough to do that, because Saturday was Halloween and Sweetie's Birthday isn't recognized by enough people (yet) to muscle out Halloween (give it a year or two), so we didn't do very much in honor of Sweetie's Birthday that day, and I felt again as though I'd let her down.

I should point out: Sweetie never says that anyone's letting her down, and she doesn't insist on this many presents. While her birthday is clearly a big deal to her, she says all the right things, like "You don't have to get me anything at all if you don't want," adding, before I believe that "I know I'm not that important," so that it's clear to me that I do have to get her stuff, even though she's saying I don't. I get the unspoken hints and, more importantly, I want to point out to Sweetie that she is that important, that she deserves a birthday along the lines of the one arranged for that kid by that bird in that Dr. Seuss book that I had as a kid, but which I can never remember too much about because when I start to think of birthdays, and childhood, the first thing I remember is the time my parents got me a record with a birthday song on it, and the birthday song had my name in it. It went like this:

Hey Briane,
It's your birthday...


And it was sung by a character named "Zoom" who lived on the Moon and was in charge of the stars, and had come down to Earth to sing to me. As he sung:

My name is Zoom
And I live on the moon
But I came down to Earth
Just to sing you this tune
'Cause Briane,
It's your birthday,
Today!


(This is a real thing, and you can hear a sample of it here.)

I do what I can, though, to give Sweetie a birthday that exceeds even a birthday sung about by the guy who's in charge of the stars, because I want her to be happy. It just never works out that way, as hard as I try.

On Sunday, the day before Sweetie's Actual Birthday, I planned to give her a small present, and get the Whoppers, and also told her (quite bravely) that I would actually skip the Packer-Vikings football game if she wanted me to. (Luckily for me, she fell sound asleep in the afternoon, so soundly that she didn't hear me sneaking away to go downstairs and watch the game with The Boy and Oldest.) But I ran into troubles getting her present, and had to make two trips to get the books and gift certificate that were the fill-in present for the day, and the kids did their usual complaining about having to eat a Whopper (complaining even while they ate them so fast they practically inhaled them), and then everyone rushed off -- The Boy to work, and Oldest back home, and Middle off to college again -- leaving us with a mess and the usual pantsless three-year-olds and me feeling like Sweetie deserved more than that.

I had a make-up plan, though: I'd gotten Oldest to agree to babysit the Babies! on Monday, Sweetie's Actual Birthday, so that I could take Sweetie out to dinner at the diner where we like to go eat sometimes.

When I say "so that I could take Sweetie out to dinner," I mean that Sweetie would be paying, though, since I was already out of money and in fact owed Sweetie $17 by now for money I'd borrowed to buy her all the various presents. But she agreed to treat herself, and me, to dinner for her Actual Birthday, and to pay Oldest the $10 I'd promised for babysitting, and we went to dinner on Monday night, celebrating her birthday quietly and happily and with patty melts (me) and chicken strips (her.) And frosted pumpkin cookies that were kind of like pumpkin bars shaped into a cookie and which were so good that just typing that made my mouth start watering.

We were on the way home from the diner when I really blew it, though. A thought occurred to me, and, as so often happens, I voiced that thought before I'd really let it filter around.

The thought was this: What if Sweetie thinks that I took her to dinner to let everyone set up for a surprise party at home on her birthday? I'd done that once before, thrown her a surprise birthday party, taking her to dinner and a movie while people had set up the party at her apartment, then bringing her back home (where she insisted on bringing her laundry in before we went inside, so that she was greeted by Suprise! while holding a basketfull of unfolded clean clothes.) As we were about a mile from our house Monday, I remembered that and then wondered if Sweetie was thinking that's what this had been about, this trip to the diner.

So I said, stupidly: "What if this was all just a setup for a surprise party at home?" and immediately mentally slapped myself upside my own head. Why would I say that? I wondered. Why? What if Sweetie wanted a surprise party and I'd just put hope into her that she was getting one, that we'd go home and all these people would jump up and yell "Surprise! Happy Month of Sweetie!" when I knew full well that we were going home to find pantless three-year-olds and Oldest complaining about how her stomach hurt after eating four hardboiled eggs and a barbecue sandwich.

But, I consoled myself, Sweetie doesn't like parties. She won't want one. It's okay. I'm just making conversation!

Sweetie then said "I wondered if you'd do that for me. I wouldn't mind a party."

Which threw me further for a loop, because I quickly said: "There's no party. I was just making conversation." In my mind, I was hitting myself repeatedly over the head with a broom. Then I thought: What if Sweetie thinks that there is a party, and that now I'm only covering up for it, trying to throw her off so that she's really surprised?

So I said: "Seriously, there's no party," which then made me feel worse, because now it was like I was rubbing it in, that there was no party, as if I was taunting Sweetie about how she was not getting a party. I tried to fix that by saying: "I mean, who would I invite, anyway?"

Smarter people than I am will now realize that I should simply never ever ever talk, and that if it were possible, I should have immediately made up an excuse, gone to a gas station, say, and used my cell phone to somehow put together a surprise party in the 1/4 mile until we got home, and also figured out a way to buy Sweetie diamond earrings in that time span, too.

Instead, I said "Plus, you don't like parties, right?" Which sounded to me like an insult and a cover for what I now figured Sweetie assumed was the massive surprise party waiting for her at home.

Sweetie finally managed to get a word in edgewise and assure me that she didn't really expect a party ... making me wonder not expect one because her husband's a loser? or not expect one because... only I couldn't figure out another explanation for that and we were home by that time, home to the house that did not have a surprise party waiting inside, but did have a surly Oldest and a mess created by three-year-olds who'd been let to run amuck for over an hour. If Sweetie was disappointed in the lack of a party, she didn't show it, and I did finally remember that I had one final present to give her, the pajamas that I'd meant to wrap and let her open before we'd left, but which I'd forgotten about until we got home. I ran upstairs and hastily threw them into a box and came back down with them.

"It's not much," I said, and handed the box to her, and added "It's not very good." She opened them and said that she liked them very much and seemed happy, overall, if a little wary, like maybe someone was still going to jump out from behind the piano and yell Surprise! I didn't know how to dispel that notion, and decided (for a change) that I'd just stop saying things.

That was three days ago, and I still am worried that Sweetie still thinks there might be a surprise party in the works, that I'm going to come home from work with 30 people (we don't even know 30 people) in tow and a cake and balloons, or that when I suggested the other night we go to the health club and work out, it was a cover for the real surprise party that I'd set up the day after her birthday, as a true surprise.

I don't know how to shake that feeling that Sweetie is expecting a party, and if she is, I don't know what to do about it, but I've got an idea: I'm going to get her a Pound Puppy.

Demon Llama! (3 Good Things From 11/4/09)


1
. Dancing to Henry The Eighth by Herman's Hermits with Mr Bunches. Sweetie mentioned that Mr Bunches' new haircut makes him look like a Beatle -- and I went her one better (and many more obscure) by saying it made him look like a Herman's Hermit, so when I got home, I loaded up Henry The Eighth and danced with Mr Bunches to it. Don't worry about fairness, though: I also danced with Mr F to I See You, Baby and then played Chase with them while the music blared. Mr F is fast, by the way. Really fast.

I've already put up Henry The Eighth on this blog (here) so you can listen to Jezebel by them, instead:



2. My lunch yesterday was awesome... I'm skipping bread for November (because of this) which could make it tough for Sweetie to make me lunches, I guess, but it instead inspires her to greater creativity, like yesterday when I got Ramen Noodles mixed with pepperoni and barbecue beef.

3. "Bring it on." That line, from The Emperor's New Groove, cracks me up. It's the part where Cuzco and Pacha have gotten lashed to the log and are about to go over the waterfall, and Cuzco says "Let me guess... we're about to go over a giant waterfall."

Pacha: "Yep."
Cuzco: "Sharp rocks at the bottom?"
Pacha: "Most likely."
Cuzco: "Bring it on."

The only line in that movie -- which I watched while playing Death Flip 3000 with Mr Bunches (it's a valid game that I invented!) -- which even comes close to Bring it on is "Demon Llama!"

Which would make a great name for a Herman's Hermit's tribute band. Here's Can't You Hear My Heartbeat:



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Maybe Newsweek Should Have A Subscription To Me? (First Thoughts)


It wasn't so long ago that I pointed out that Newsweek writer Mark Hosenball was also a reader of The Best Of Everything. What I didn't realize back then is that apparently every computer in the Newsweek offices uses one of my blogs as a home page.

This insight comes from Newsweek's latest edition this week, the one in which the writers theorize about what would have happened if Al Gore had won the presidency or something. (Well, the latest one of those issues, which Newsweek puts out about quarterly.)

This morning, paging through that issue backwards as I drank my cup of coffee before I went upstairs to find Mr Bunches pantless (I knew he would be), I first came across the article titled "Rocket Men." In that article, writer/Thinking The Lions reader Jeremy McCarter argues that an expansive space exploration program is a good thing, and that writers and other creative types could help push just that. McCarter says:

What scientists and artists shared then, and what we need to regain now, is a fascination with what Holmes calls "the exploratory voyage, often lonely and perilous.

Readers of Thinking The Lions, though -- including McCarter, and all of Newsweek's staff, will recall what I said, on September 29, when I suggested that we launch people to Mars or further:

If there's one thing we can learn from history -- and I'm not entirely sold that we can learn anything from history-- it's that mankind benefits from exploration.

It seems that I've already inspired McCarter, who should at least leave a comment on this blog to thank me.

But that's not all! Newsweek writer/Thinking The Lions reader Jon Meacham also has an essay in which he urges people to think on a large scale about environmental problems. Pointing out that he only recycles his newspapers under duress, Meacham writes:

I suspect many of you are similarly ambivalent about the efficacy of small-scale action to address a planetary problem.

Jon, why would you suspect that? Is it because I said, on October 28, that we should quit "Cell Phone Charger" thinking and urged people to think larger?

Jon goes on to write:

It is just that my lightbulbs and Diet Coke cans are not going to make up for the CO2 pouring forth from China's coal-fired plants.

You're right, Jon -- as all readers of Thinking The Lions, including you and your staff-- can tell you: unplugging your cell phone, or planting trees, will not offset 120 Empire State Buildings being hauled around the world.

As I pointed out.

Thanks for reading, Newsweek staffers! But can I get a discount on my subscription now?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Quote of The Day, 40


Because he wants to look cool...

-- Sweetie, describing Mr Bunches' outfit last night.

Last night, Mr Bunches was in a mood to take off his diaper and sleeper. The first time he did that, I rediapered him and re-sleepered him and then put a tank top on over his sleeper, hoping that would discourage him from taking off the diaper and sleeper.

When I went back to check on him, he'd gotten the sleeper open, and diaper off, but still had the sleeves and tank top on, so that his sleeper legs were flapping behind him like fuzzy tuxedo tails (with feet.) I rediapered and resleepered him again and left. When I next went in there, he was in that same state of disarray, so I decided to give in and take the sleeper off and let him just sleep in a diaper if he wanted.

But he wouldn't let me do that. He insisted on keeping his tank top-and-upper half of his sleeper combo on, legs a'flapping, and going to bed that way.

(I let him do that. By 9 p.m., I'll give in to anything if it keeps the Babies! quiet.)

Anyway, what concerns me is not so much that Mr Bunches thought it looked cool to dress like that, but that Sweetie thought it looked cool to dress like that...

_________________________________________________________

You know, I can also be serious at times, as I am (mostly) when I discuss the law over on Family and Consumer Law: The Blog. Check that out if you spend money, are part of a family, or know someone who meets those criteria.

Shampoo washcloth duck soap car (3 Good Things From 11/3/09)

The picture is from our health club. Sweetie didn't understand why I was taking a picture of it until I pointed out the typos. Whatever the fitness staff is, it's not good at grammar or spelling...


1. The Tuesday present was... flowers:
I started a new idea, one Sweetie will now know is a new idea even though she didn't last night. On my way home from work, I stopped off and bought Sweetie some flowers, just for being her. Then I decided that should be a thing I do, and I decided that from here on out for the next year, I'm going to bring her a little present each Tuesday.

Why Tuesdays? Because Tuesdays need a little pepping up, I think. Mondays can't be saved, while Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays don't need any help, which leaves Tuesday or Wednesday. I picked Tuesday because it was Tuesday when I thought of this.

2. I ran 3.14 miles in 30 minutes. I've been trying to increase my running, and last night I shot for 30 minutes and made it -- with an under-10-minute-mile time. The achievement was made all the greater because from 25:00 to 27:48, I had no music -- my iPod jammed up on me and needed to be restarted, twice, which was especially distressing because (a) why is my iPod jamming up? and (b) it jammed up right in the middle of Handlebars by Flobot. Maybe you don't think that song is an inspirational song to run to, but it is. Try it sometime. Like right now:



See what I mean? How doesn't it pump you up to sing along with I can guide a missile by satellite, and if you're running really well, you believe it.

3. Potato Masher was part of learning time. "Learning time" is when, each night, Sweetie and I try to teach Mr F and Mr Bunches... something. Some nights it's drawing circles and squares and triangles -- we used to include ovals but I stopped because it's really hard, actually, to tell the difference between an oval and a circle when they're both drawn by laypeople -- and some nights it's reading, or parts of the body, or things around the house. Last night, because we were running behind (owing to my having gone to the health club to jog while the Babies! played in the club's play room)( hey, "running behind" is kind of a pun...), because we were running behind, I did Things That Are In The Bathtub for learning time. Those things included: shampoo, washcloth, duck, soap, car, and boat, all of which are to be expected, and then moved on to monkey, giraffe, and potato masher.

(Note: the monkey and giraffe are toys.)

(Note, 2: After I held up potato masher and named it, twice, like I do, Mr Bunches took the potato masher and threw it into Mr F's head.)

(Note 3: I probably should have expected that.)