December 31, 2006

How Auld Is Lang Syne, Anyway?

20070final.jpg
Posted by Chris at 7:54 PM | Comments (33)

December 29, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: The Out Of Touch Edition

It's time for the final schadenfreude of 2006 but I have to admit, I haven't been paying attention to the news all week. I might have missed something.

One: Ethics? Say What?

The North Carolina bar filed ethics charges Thursday against the prosecutor in the Duke lacrosse rape case, accusing him of saying misleading and inflammatory things to the media about the athletes under suspicion. The punishment for ethics violations can range from admonishment to disbarment.

Among the four rules of professional conduct that District Attorney Mike Nifong was accused of violating was a prohibition against making comments "that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused."


Look, I'm not saying these guys were saints. Far from it. Were they up to something hinkey? Possibly. But did they also get railroaded due to election-related politics? Absolutely.

Two: Mistakes On A Plane

A US Airways passenger faced charges of interfering with a flight crew Thursday after he apparently unknowingly slapped an undercover federal air marshal, said an official familiar with the case. The man, who'd been drinking liquor, threw a mid-air temper tantrum Wednesday night after attendants refused to serve him any more alcohol during his flight from Washington's Reagan National Airport and Fort Myers, Florida, the official said. The passenger then slapped a fellow passenger, who happened to be an undercover air marshal assigned to the flight, said the official.

"He had a bad night last night," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous and isn't authorized to reveal specifics of the case. The passenger is expected to be arraigned Thursday.


Uh...oops. Haven't people learned by now that you can't get stupid on a plane anymore? Apparently not. Dude's lucky he didn't get shot.

Now, I ask you, my friends...what's the biggest Schadenfreude of 2007?

Posted by Chris at 8:29 AM | Comments (22)

December 28, 2006

Five Things

Knock knock. I know I'm boring this week but is anyone out there or has the blogosphere ground to a screeching halt in this week dividing the two big annual holidays? I don't smell again, do I? Sure, I'm pretty well aware that I'm boring, with all this talk about illness and stuff. And I'm taking the week off, if you call playing Florence Nightingale taking the week off. And I guess no one really wants to hear about vomiting. So, enough of that.

A few weeks back, the lovely Debra tagged my ass (not literally) and issued an interesting challenge. In response, and despite the fact that I've spent three and a half years pouring my guts out (metaphorically...I'm not talking about vomiting again) to you guys, I'm supposed to come up with five things you don't know about me. I'm already stumped and I haven't started...

Thing One: When I was growing up, my dad worked both the Latin American and Asian markets for his bank. He traveled a lot, but not so much that it scarred me for life or anything. Anyway, he used to hit Tokyo once every six months and he invariably came home with some bizarre Japanese toy for me. They were from a nice Japanese man named Mr. Yoshida who I never managed to meet but who asked about me constantly and always sent something home with my dad. I doubt I'll ever forget that particular brand of kindness.

Thing Two: As a kid, I remember leaving my name everywhere in and around my childhood home. In the attic, there was a 2X4 with my name carved in it. There was a brick in the wall lining our driveway similarly marked. When the concrete was poured for the pool in our backyard, I managed to leave an autograph. There were countless instances. And yet I'm unclear of the motivation. We moved when I was 15. It's kind of nice to know that my name's probably still there, in any number of places. After all, that's where I grew up. It seems only fair.

Thing Three: I'm phobic about leftovers. And opened food in the fridge. I avoid leftover meals at all costs and I'm not wild about jars of pickles or condiments or, well, anything, if they've been there over a week or so. Now that I think of it, I'm pretty phobic about food in general. Yet I eat well and haven't died yet so I suppose I'm doing alright.

Thing Four: The first time a cursed in public was in the third grade. I was in gym class at my ultra-conservative Baptist school (that my parents signed me up for because it had an excellent academic reputation but it actually turned my elementary school years into a giant suckfest and is probably the reason I'm not at all a religious guy) and the opposing team scored a goal in kickball or something. I said shit and a team member went and told a teacher. The teacher then grabbed a paddle, took me in an office, and attempted to remove the bad word from my vocabulary via a swift smack to the ass. When it was delivered, I said shit again. Needless to say, I got a second and third "reprimanding." I kept my mouth closed but still found shit in my vocabulary. The asshole who turned me in was named Jerry. I never have trusted another person with that name.

Thing Five: I had a dream list night that Beth and I were fighting crime for some reason. And halfway through we decided to go on an intergalactic mission. Seriously. Some company was offering them and, since you were traveling at the speed of light, you could go to some far off world for a really nice vacation and spend, like, ten years there, then come back and only six months would have elapsed. Ok, I know...I got most of my scientific knowledge watching Star Trek. But still, it was cool. Until we stumbled onto the fact that it was all a scam. So we were forced to live in a hotel in Nairobi for six months by the company that ran the tours. Or we'd be dealt with. Okay, okay, I realize that's probably not what you were looking for but still, it's something you didn't know, right?

Are you still awake? If so, tell me about the cool stuff you got for Christmas.

Posted by Chris at 7:50 AM | Comments (55)

December 27, 2006

Snapshots, Health and Pajama-Burn


...more on Flickr, as always...
I promised you pictures, and pictures you shall have. Head to my Flickr site for more. As evidenced by these pictures, Mia was happy and not throwing up some of the long holiday weekend. I didn't take any shots of the actual vomiting, as I didn't think anyone would particularly care to see that. You're welcome.

You'll be happy to know that a day has passed without illness...and there was some fairly significant playing happening yesterday too! Unfortunately, the night wasn't quite as puke-free - Mia experienced something of a relapse. But back to the playing. All of it focused around the playtime epicenter that is the brand spankin' new kitchen we bought for her. She loves it. And I love to see her loving it. We made this bitchin' spoon casserole this afternoon. I'd be happy to pass along the recipe, although it's pretty easy...air, tiny broiling pan, a spoon and a fake oven...three or four seconds of fake cooking time and you're set. Serves, well, as many as you want.

If I hadn't mentioned it, I'm taking the week off. So, posting will be light. Okay, okay...I'll probably be driven by my insane desire to please and I'll post everyday but just don't expect insightful wit or brilliant social commentary. I'm giving my brain some time to chill.

I do have one question - what genius thought it was a good idea to put rough, rubbery pebbled treads on the soles of PJ feet? Sure, they're grippy when your toddler runs through the house first thing in the morning but when you're curled up in bed with them all night because they're sick and restless, they can give you a massive case of pajama-burn on your nether regions. Hypothetically, of course.

Posted by Chris at 7:47 AM | Comments (27)

December 26, 2006

The Cactus-Fish Christmas

This Christmas was, well, different. To properly explain, I need to back up a few days...

On Thursday evening, I was headed home from a meeting in D.C. During the commute, I gave Beth a call to let her know I was on my way. She sounded bad and admitted she was sick. When I arrived at home, she crashed. Very early Friday morning, Mia followed suit. Beth rebounded by Saturday but Mia stayed under the weather. We took her to the doctor and she made some headway on Saturday night and Sunday. On Christmas Eve our parents came over for dinner and the excitement was apparently too much. Mia was out of it on Christmas Day. She was in and out of bed (and consequently not opening presents) until noon and we canceled on the family Christmas dinner. We stayed home and ordered Chinese food after spending two hours trying to get Mia to bed. So, you'll forgive the lack of Christmas pictures, no?

So, yes. Not your traditional Christmas. Jingle bells, ho-ho-hoing, angels singing from on-high...and vomiting. But I don't want to leave you with the impression that it was bad.

On Sunday night before everyone left, I found myself taking a turn trying to get Mia to sleep. Ten minutes into the attempt, the door to her bedroom opened and my mom snuck in. At first I was a little annoyed. Mia's picky and anything different throws her off. She wasn't going to fall asleep with my mom in the room. But it was nice. There I was rocking my daughter to sleep - or trying - with my mom who no doubt did the same with me thirtysome years ago.

"It's pretty much the best thing in the world, isn't it?" she whispered after a few minutes.

"Yes. It really is," I replied. My mom snuck back out a few minutes later. They left while I was still trying and I never was successful. Beth had to bail me out half an hour later.

Sure, Christmas wasn't exactly how we'd envisioned it. But this dad thing? The best thing in the world. No amount of sleepless nights or getting puked upon can change that. Although, I hope your Christmases were a little healthier.

Posted by Chris at 7:47 AM | Comments (31)

December 24, 2006

Holiday Spirit

Play it, you won't regret it. It gives me goosebumps every time. Happy holidays, everyone.



The music was originally broadcast on Studio 60 put together by the folks at the Tipitina's Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping artists recover from Hurricane Katrina. Last year they raised $500,000 for new instruments alone. If you're feeling generous, you can donate to the worthy cause.

Posted by Chris at 11:52 AM | Comments (25)

December 22, 2006

Merry Merry

Nope, no schadenfreude today. Last night? Not pleasant. Full of illness and not so much sleeping. But since this is the last work day before Christmas, I just wanted to take a minute and wish you all a wonderfully happy holiday.


Thank you all for gracing the pages of this site with your presence. You really and truly rock. All my best to you and your families this holiday season.

Posted by Chris at 10:06 AM | Comments (60)

December 21, 2006

The Teletubby Madness Continues

I believe Angela's uncovered a little proof that might lend some credence to my daughter's claim.


teletubb2y.jpg

Uh, thanks...I think...

Posted by Chris at 7:26 PM | Comments (36)

Teletubby Identity Theft!

Mia took a late nap yesterday so we stayed up a little past her normal bedtime and watched the Teletubbies. Throughout one entire scene, whenever the purple Teletubby (Tinky Winky) showed up, Mia shouted "Dada Dada Dada Dada!" Please in the name of all that is good and holy tell me you don't see a resemblance.

teletubby.jpg

I'd also like to ask you a very important question - what the fuck were the Teletubby creators smoking when they came up with those annoying little bastards? Watching that show is like an acid trip without any drugs. Trippy.

I'm well aware that this is a pathetic attempt at a post but yesterday sucked and today is going to be busy as hell. This is the price I pay for taking next week off.

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (60)

December 20, 2006

Stereotypes

I've been poking and prodding inside my brain for a topic. Frankly, I'm running dry this week. Yesterday damn near killed me and the remainder of the week will follow suit. Reflecting on previous posts and topics you and I've traded email and comments about over the past few weeks, I landed on vegetarianism. I am one, you see. Some of you seemed a little surprised by that and more than a little curious when I mentioned it a few weeks ago. So I figured I'd write about that...until I realized that something tangentially related was bugging me. Stand back, give me a little room, let me stretch out and explain...

I don't eat meat. Why? I didn't really care about it when I did eat it so why bother? I'm healthy and happy without it. Although I do miss bacon. Mmmmm, bacon. Oh, right. I certainly don't care if anyone else eats meat. Cows are going to buy the farm (ha!) whether I chow down on a steak or not. To each his own.

I also don't drink. I used to. In high school and the early part of college I made a hefty contribution to the beer industry, specifically Milwaukee's Best, The Beast. When I turned 21, the refrigerator in my apartment was so stocked, the light from the bulb in the fridge was refracted by so many different colored bottles, rainbows appeared on my kitchen walls and ceiling.

I'm not a huge sports fan. Never was, probably never will be. I grew up in the great state of Texas in which football was king. Yet I never caught the bug. I ran track in high school, played tennis competitively for years and took up amateur cycling at one point but I was never truly passionate about any of those things Instead, I like books, art and music. I'd rather take pictures than watch the Super Bowl, play my guitar than see the World Series unfold or plow through a novel than sit through the Stanley Cup playoffs. I don't care about NASCAR, Texas Hold 'Em or professional wrestling.

There are some other minor things. I don't drive a big truck; I drive a Jetta wagon. I don't have a big dog; I'm a cat kinda guy. I don't rant incessantly about the wonder that are women's breasts (though I do think they rock). I don't bench press small cars. I don't use smelly aftershave, I use styling products in my hair and I think I have pretty good fashion sense.

I am, in short, not a stereotypical guy. And sometimes - just every so often - I'm made to feel inferior for that.

We live in a society that perpetuates unattainable images of women and sets a terrible precedent for girls. Role-models are hard to come by what with all the 85-pound cocaine-addled tramps who's biggest problems seem to revolve around the selection eligible millionaires to bed and remembering to put on underwear. But the male stereotypes perpetuated by society can be almost as bad.

Me? I don't care. I'm a vegetarian non-sports-loving Jetta-driving non-drinker who's better read than half the planet and can play some mean riffs on my Fender. But it does get to me sometimes.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (78)

December 19, 2006

Uncorrected Personality Traits

Uncorrected personality traits
That seem whimsical in a child
May prove to be ugly in
A fully grown adult
- Uncorrected Personality Traits by Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn, whilst remaining an exceptionally talented but odd man, is correct. My observations from dadhood thus far have led me to confirm his belief and go one step further. I hereby reveal the results of the Rude Cactus Infant-Toddler Behavioral Study: all kids are insanely obsessive compulsive.

In the not so distant past, a fly was stuck in the transom over our front door, bashing itself against the glass in a vain attempt to fly towards the light and escape the Cactus-Fish abode. Mia was severely disturbed, pointing at the fly over and over. It's unclear what she wanted exactly. Did she want to see the fly? Was she concerned over the fly's health and well-being? Or did she just want it to go away? Like I said, unclear. Eventually, while she took a fly-break in the kitchen, I bashed the damn thing with an old copy of Rolling Stone (the issue with Justin Timberlake on the front so, in my mind, you know, right tool for the job), found the fly carcass and pitched it outside. Mia came rushing back in looking for the fly. No matter how many times Beth and I told her that the fly was gone, that it went back to its family, that it was with Jesus, she still aimed her index finger at the transom looking for the thing. That was months ago. Yesterday? We had to explain once again that the fly was with Jesus.

(This also leads me to a more critical issue - how does a parent explain to a child that something is dead and gone without spewing inappropriate religious sarcasm?)

Combine this with the ball games I described yesterday. There are actual rules applied to these games. It doesn't help that I don't know these rules or that the rules change with no warning whatsoever. Like I said - you've gotta stay flexible, adapt. Then there's the tidiness, the fact that no eating can possibly be done on a high-chair tray that has spilled food on it. And clean hands. Can't forget the clean hands. Oh, and locked doors. Very important, those locked doors. Buckles. Yes, the damn buckles. You take all these things (the good, the bad, and there you have the facts of life), put them together and you have a totally OCD-riddled little person who can't quite express herself. Which has to be frustrating.

So I've revised my opinion of parenting, at least partially.

I used to think that it was my job as a parent to teach our child manners, verse her in the ways of the world and keep her on the right path, Buddha-like, as best we can and prepare her for being an adult, for moving out into the world. I still think that crap's important. But what is equally as important is breaking her of the obsessive compulsive tendencies lest she grow up buying antibacterial soap by the truckload, brushing her teeth in an always-clockwise motion twelve times a day facing the general direction of the orbiting international space station and locking the front door 312 times - precisely - before heading to work.

Now, I don't want to leave you with the opinion that I'm at all bitter or frustrated by this behavior. I'm not. I think it's fucking adorable. Nor am I unsympathetic to the OCDers of the world...since I've always kinda been one. As a matter of fact, I'm off to get another cup of coffee. After I hit "submit" on this post 23 times while hopping on one leg reciting Robert Frost's Mending Wall backwards I'm going to go wash my hands. Three times.

What odd traits did you have as a kid? And what odd traits do you have now?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (45)

December 18, 2006

Weekend Lessons Learned

Yet another weekend has gone the way of Elvis - left the building. For the most part, it was a great one. In order to recap the weekend, I present some "lessons learned."

Lesson One: Things Change and The Mighty Fall
This weekend I set foot in Tower Records for the very last time. After Christmas, my beloved music buying institution will not reopen. Ever. So I decided to take one last stroll down the aisles and, yes, see if I couldn't capitalize on the situation, sad though it may be. It was pretty terrible. They're selling everything down to the shelves and listening stations (I didn't see a price on the stations but the shelves are going for $35 a pop, in case you were curious). Most of their remaining stock is crap they couldn't give away but I was able to find seven CDs I couldn't live without. Grant total? Twenty-eight bucks. Times sure change.

I'll miss the store with the big yellow sign that sold over-priced CDs. I feel like I grew up in that place. I knew the store by heart yet there was always the prospect of finding a hidden gem, an artist I'd never expected to see or a title I'd been searching for for years. That's not a feeling you get walking the aisles of "superstores" with their shelves crammed with Top 40 bullshit. And it's not something you can replicate online.

Lesson Two: Best Laid Plans...You Know The Rest
Before I was a dad, I was a guy who liked to know what he was doing the rest of the day...or even week. I wasn't regimented but I liked to make and keep plans. Having a kid taught me the error of my ways. Because having a child forces you to realize a flexibility you never knew you had. Of the things we had planned this weekend we were able to get to, well, one or two of them. Maybe? Life - and a toddler - intervened. But, you know, there are worse fates for a weekend.

Lesson Three: Balls Rule, Buckles Suck
Having a toddler forces you into playing lots of games that, prior, would not have been considered games. Like throwing a ball at a fan. This is now called FanBall. Or chasing a ball around the kitchen with a broom. Welcome to BroomBall. Or finding balls that daddy has hidden around the living room. Introducing MysteryBall. The rules of these games evolve as do the overall levels of complexity. We're eagerly awaiting Extreme BroomBall or Full Contact FanBall or the slightly hazardous Flaming MysteryBall. Until that time, however, we'll fill any voids with Insanely Annoying Buckle Showdown.

Mia has several items - her booster chair and her high-chair among them - which contain buckles. It is her mission to put these buckles together at random times throughout the day. While unpredictable, when she wants a buckle showdown, someone better be on-hand to help or it's not going to be pretty.

Now, with the balls, there are lots of variations to keep everyone happy, even the parents. But with the buckles? Not so much. My message to would-be parents? Never buy anything with buckles. Trust me on that.

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM | Comments (33)

Haiku For Monday #151

Well spank my ass
and call me Norma Jean cos
it's Monday again.

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (5)

December 15, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: The Painfully Obvious Edition

SchadenOne: Shocker!

Nicole Richie was arrested early Monday for investigation of driving under the influence after her car was reported headed the wrong way on a freeway.

Richie, 25, star of "The Simple Life" reality series and daughter of pop singer
Lionel Richie, was arrested without incident at 1:45 a.m. (PST) after she failed a field sobriety test given by California Highway Patrol officers, CHP Officer Todd Workman said.

"She volunteered the information that she had smoked marijuana and taken Vicodin," the prescription painkiller, Workman said. No drugs were found on her or in the car.


Another reputable news source later wrote, "When asked why Richie was handcuffed to her cell's metal cot, sheriff's deputy Ed Edderson stated, 'No jail can hold that woman! Have you seen how skinny she is? She just kept slipping through the bars!' Richie's weight at booking was reported to be 85 pounds, the average weight for a three-foot tall adult."

SchadenTwo: Denial!


Iran has pressed on with a controversial Holocaust conference as international outrage mounted over its hosting of "revisionist" historians who cast doubt on the mass slaughter of Jews in World War II.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday slammed the conference as "shocking beyond belief", while the United States described the meeting as "an affront to the entire civilized world."

A host of Western "revisionists" who doubt the slaughter of six million Jews in World War II took place, including a former Ku Klux Klan leader and a Frenchman given a suspended jail term in October, took part.

Iran said that the aim of the conference was to find answers to questions about the Holocaust from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described it as a "myth" and cast doubt on the scale of the slaughter.


It's my understanding that this conference marks the first of a series which will feature week-long conferences on the following topics:
- Cratered: The Myth of the Moon Landing
- JFK: There Were Three Gunmen
- Viva Tehran: Elvis Presley, Alive and Entertaining Nightly

SchadenThree: Tall Story


The long arms of the world's tallest man reached in and saved two dolphins by pulling out plastic from their stomachs, state media and an aquarium official said Thursday.

The dolphins got sick after nibbling on plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province. Attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because the dolphins' stomachs contracted in response to the instruments, the China Daily newspaper reported.

Veterinarians then decided to ask for help from Bao Xishun, a 7-feet-9 herdsman from Inner Mongolia with 41.7-inch arms, state media said.

Bao, 54, was confirmed last year by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's tallest living man.

Chen Lujun, the manager of the Royal Jidi Ocean World aquarium, told The Associated Press that the shape of the dolphins' stomachs made it difficult to push an instrument very far in without hurting the animals. People with shorter arms could not reach the plastic, he said.

"When we failed to get the objects out we sought the help of Bao Xishun from Inner Mongolia and he did it successfully yesterday," Chen said. "The two dolphins are in very good condition now."


No, it's not schadenfreude. We could all use a nice story now and again, couldn't we?

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (37)

December 14, 2006

The Envelope (And Vibrator) Please...

Last week, I threw down the gauntlet in the form of the Great Tagline Smackdown of 2006. As I've come to expect from you guys, the response was overwhelming. You guys are funny and clever and honestly I hate to pick the handful I'm forcing myself to highlight here. There were over 150 entries and you invariably cracked me up over the last week. As you know, my sense of humor is quirky so I might not be able to explain exactly why the winners cracked me up so much...but they did.

Third Place prizes - some genuine, custom-made Rude Cactus musical compilations - will actually be taken home by a five folks.
Patricia - "Rude Cactus: Neither Rude Nor A Cactus. Discuss"
Whit - "Rude Cactus: Polite is for Ferns"
Sarah - "Rude Cactus: Because Polite Prick is an Oxymoron"
Michelle - "Rude Cactus: Better Than An Angry Beaver"
Librarian Girl - "Rude Cactus: Sharp, Succulent, and Often Ornamental"

Second Place - the fake autographed Stephen King first edition as well as the double-compilation - goes to the lovely Alektra for her contribution - "Rude Cactus: Giving Three Shits, Thank You."

First Place goes to Martin for the inexplicably hilarious "Rude Cactus: What Normal Would Be if Normal Was Something Else." What has Martin won? Why, a 2GB MP3 player. But wait, there's more! The MP3 player won't arrive empty. Nope. It'll contain a hand picked selection of fine music.

I wish to offer Jennifer an honorable mention for persistence due to her 1,294 submissions which were all utterly brilliant. Music is headed your way too!

Thanks to all of you who humored me and played along. And to the winners - congratulations. Expect your prizes after the holidays, but only if you send me your addresses.

On a completely different note, when I got home I caught sight of something out of the corner of my eye. Upon closer inspection, I realized that I had indeed parked next to a vibrator. See for yourselves.


Should I take that as some sort of sign? And if so, of what?

(Update: To clarify, I park in a common parking area surrounded by other houses. The object in question was, therefore, not something which necessarily belonged to us. If it had been in our driveway or on the front porch, well, then I'd have to worry...)

(Update Part II: Son of Update: I wish to clarify that the ownership of said vibrator is unknown. The Cactus-Fish household is in no way associated with this wave of vibrator invasion, hitherto referred to as The Red Menace. Were we to own such a thing - not that we do - we'd never allow it to go AWOL and become a free-range vibrator.)

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (65)

December 13, 2006

Dear John

Rarely do I get hate mail or evil comments. But I did yesterday. I give you the comment along with my reply.


I disagree. In general your posts seem boring and banal - well written, but nonetheless boring and banal. Yes you have a beautiful child, but your world seems extremely closed. Why are you not trying to expand your mind? Conversations with those in the outside world (even dinner with fellow workers outside of the work environment) afford you knowledge, compassion, connection and yes (probably a scary word to you) challenge. Other than listening to music, reading books and taking some interesting photos, your world seems extremely limited. It is funny to me that those people that call themselves "uber liberals" seem in general to be the least traveled, least educated about the outside world and completely lacking in interest beyond their mere arm length existence. And unfortunately, more likely than not the banal existence will be passed on to the next generation.

John...poor small-minded John. I realize posting your comment with a response is precisely what'll get your pea-sized rocks off but I get so little hate mail that I'd hate to let slip the surly bonds of opportunity.

When I was a kid, I traveled a great deal. I was lucky enough to have parents who realized the value of seeing the world, understanding that the boundaries of said world weren't defined by the four walls of my childhood home, the cross streets of my neighborhood or the limits of the city in which I grew up. I was born in another country, hopped my first plane at six months of age and, by 12, I'd visited most of this country's fifty states, headed south of the border to Mexico (several times) and driven through the majority of Western Europe. Adulthood is more confining, restricting. You find yourself bound by jobs and children. But we've still managed to travel. We've traveled out West, hopped trains to New York City and spent a couple weeks driving through France.

To say I don't see beyond the life I have with my family is just incorrect. Worse is the implication that things such as books and music do not contribute to one's overall awareness of the world around them. I average 5-7 books a month. Each day I gather news from dozens of sources in order to form a more accurate picture of the events transpiring around the world and how I fit into them. I maintain a website that's visited - literally - by tens of thousands of people each month (for instance, in November 26,000 different people dropped by to say hello accounting for nearly half a million hits). I converse and, most importantly, learn from the people who take the time to write, comment and exchange ideas. I spend my holiday celebrations with immigrants to the United States, those seeking political asylum. Any of these facts are freely available on a regular basis to anyone who, even casually, drops by my site. Only a truly ignorant individual makes blanket statements such as yours without first attempting to see if that statement is marginally correct.

I am an uber-liberal and I'm proud of it. In fact, I consider myself an uber-liberal in part because I object to the existing and long-held conservative policies which seek to dominate the world without first understanding it. But I'm more proud of the fact that I'm well-educated (a history degree earned by writing my thesis on the impact and legacy of Mao's reign in China which, it seems to me, is not a topic typically chosen by someone who keeps the world at arm's length), well-read, and successful at the vast majority of things I take on in life. I am a leader in my chosen profession, I have been recognized for the efforts I've made on behalf of my community, and, most importantly, I'm a good husband and father.

Salaries, jobs, current events, books, music and degrees are all meaningless in the face of one single thing - my daughter. I'm a dad. When Mia emerged from her mother and took her place in the world, that became my primary responsibility. It's my job to help my daughter grow and understand the world in which we live. It's incumbent upon me and my wife to ensure we instill in her senses of right and wrong and curiosity, to inspire wonder in the world, to stock her up with the basic knowledge and skills she'll need to march out into the world (as scary a prospect as that is for me right now) and share her ideas with others. If I am successful in that, I'll be able to consider my life a success. That may sound banal, but I don't need your approval. Nor do I need your condescending lecture about passing along my supposed banality and close-mindedness to my child.

If all of these things come together to form, as you suggest, an inherent ignorance of the world around me, I'm guilty. I firmly believe I've written over three years of evidence proving you wrong, but that's just me. Not everything here is exciting because life isn't always exciting. It's filled with insignificant moments. But at least I made something of them.

Posted by Chris at 7:35 AM | Comments (95)

December 12, 2006

An Entry About Nothing

A blogger's worst nightmare? The bizarre yet, I'm guessing, occasional confluence of a) a dearth of time with which to blog and b) no ideas about things to blog if you had the actual time to blog. Which you don't. Especially if you is me. And then what do you do? You throw together a pretty sentence with words like dearth and confluence with the hope that those choice semantic nuggets blind readers to the fact that, well, you haven't actually said anything.

I know, I know...I haven't actually said anything.

I got to work yesterday before the sun came up and got home long after it went down. Today? More of the same. Instead of late afternoon meetings, though, I have a dinner thing co-workers. Which is nice, don't get me wrong, but those co-workers aren't Mia or Beth. Sure, I appreciate the fact that none of them will fling their dinners in my general (or specific) direction unless things get totally out of hand. But still. When I get home late, I don't see my little girl. And daddy isn't happy when he doesn't get to see his little girl.

Which leads me to the conclusion that I need to hone my ninja skills.

See, the floorboards in Mia's room creak a bit. Sneaking in to get a peek of my sleeping little girl requires a zen-like ability to hover inches above the floor or the trained techniques employed by the finest of cat burglars and ninjas. Unless I want to wake her up, which I don't want to do.

If you need me, I'll be in meetings. And if I'm not in meetings, chances are good that I'm in my office, door closed, practicing my ninja skills.

Aside: I'm very well aware that this is a total clusterfuck of an entry, made even worse by this little aside. You ever had one of those days in which you couldn't string two meaningful words together no matter how hard you tried? That's today. But thanks for reading anyway. I bow to you, fine people. Really, I do. You guys rock. How else could I explain the fact that you stop by and read even when its just crap like this?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (50)

December 11, 2006

Merry, And Bright

Ahhh, 'tis the season, folks. This weekend was the official start of the Christmas season in the Cactus-Fish household. Christmas tree? Check! Decorating? Check! Christmas tunes? Check! Of course, I was probably a giant pain in the ass because if there's anything I hate about this season, it's going to get the tree and putting lights on the damn thing. Case in point, this conversation from Saturday:

Me: We should let the branches fall overnight before we decorate it.
Her: Yeah. And then I'll put the lights on the tree.
Me: You did that last year, right? I appreciated that.
Her: It's a hell of a lot better than listening to you bitch about it.

And she's right. I think it's just that I'm way too anal to put lights on a tree without losing my mind. Should the lights go around the trunk of the tree or out on the branches? And if they go on the branches, how do you hide the wires? Should they start from the bottom of the tree or the top? All questions that I feel must be answered prior to embarking on a tree-decorating journey. When they prove unanswerable, I grow frustrated and say things like merry fucking Christmas and the baby Jesus is so not worth this shit or if those three wise fuckers were so damn wise, why don't we get their asses to figure out a better way of doing this. And so on. You get the picture.




Beth came to my rescue. The tree is up, decked out with multi-colored lights and decorated and a rather large package is already under the tree - the ginormous kitchen we bought for Mia. Self-assembly required yet still probably better than lighting a tree, but I'll get back to you on that one. Then I tried to take a portrait of Mia in front of said tree for our Christmas card. That was a challenge. It's unclear how many actually turned out but I have the feeling that, out of the 4921 pictures I shot, there might have been two good ones.

The portions of the weekend not dedicated to all things merry and bright were good as well. Although not overly eventful. There was, as is standard, a little bit of reading, a small dollop of relaxation and a great deal of playing.

Unfortunately, all of that had to stop with the arrival of another dreaded Monday. I'm off to sit in meetings all day. I hope you guys have something more constructive to do.

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (53)

Haiku For Monday #150

It's Monday. There are
only so many good ways
to say that in verse.

Posted by Chris at 7:27 AM | Comments (12)

December 8, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: It Was The Silliest Of Times...

I can take no credit for anything in today's post. Never before have stories of schadenfreude written themselves so wonderfully. Dickensonian in their profoundity, I give you two tails of tough titties.

...according to The Washington Post...

Catherine Holmes saw the ads for the so-called "dairy diet" and thought it would be a tasty way to lose a few pounds. After all, she loves buttermilk, yogurt and cheese.

Instead, the Arlington woman says, she gained three pounds on the diet, which dairy companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting. She sued the industry.

But a federal judge has ruled that under Virginia law, Holmes and other people can't take on the industry in court -- only a government entity such as the Virginia attorney general's office can. The decision last week by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria threw out the lawsuit Holmes filed last year. [read more]

There are no words. I mean, really, what do you say about something like that? What kind of logic makes one sue an industry that, after the consumption of the food produced by that industry, does not induce weight loss? Seems to me, if you ingest something - especially a lot of something - you shouldn't expect to lose weight. Or am I totally off-base here?

...according to the AP...
It is considered polite to light a match after passing gas. Not while on a plane.

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened. [read more]

Farts on a plane? Sam Jackson, I think I smell a Snakes on a Plane sequel.

By the way, don't forget about the Great Tagline Smackdown. Vote early, vote often.

Posted by Chris at 7:11 AM | Comments (27)

December 7, 2006

The Great Tagline Smackdown Of 2006

I've been online now for three and a half years. Since that time, I've hopefully become a better writer and come up with more amusing stuff but some things haven't changed. Like the design of the site or the taglines I use. Depending on when you've visited, you've seen one of two titles:

...in a world full of pricks, there's only one rude cactus
...putting the suck in succulent

And it's time for those to change. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and I hope you do, because frankly I'm stuck and I need to borrow your brains)? Come up with a new tagline for Rude Cactus (I'm not one of those freaky people who refers to himself in the third person - I'm talking about the site). The rules? There are no rules. Make something up. Be witty. Be creative. Be silly.

Third Place: The third place winner will become the proud owner of a genuine Rude Cactus compilation CD. Nice, huh?

Second Place: The fine upstanding reader who enters the second place entry will win an autographed first edition copy of Stephen King's latest, Lisey's Story. Sure, in all likelihood, the book won't actually be signed by the author. Instead the signature might be from yours truly but we somehow ended up with two copies so don't argue. It's free. I've heard that the book isn't all that great so maybe Mia will illustrate it for you. In addition, second place will net you a two-disc customized genuine Rude Cactus compilation.

First Place: The author of the winning entry will win a prize so insanely mindblowing that I'm keeping it a surprise. Suffice it to say, if you don't play along and, therefore, blow your chance of winning, you'll be kicking yourself in the ass and that's no easy feat. Plus, you can really pull something doing that. I'll give you a hint - it's not a puppy. It's not a hooker either. Sorry.

Winners will be announced next Thursday so comment here or send me an email with your entry. You can enter as often as you want so don't be shy.

Obligatory Fine Print: All entries become the property of Rude Cactus Worldwide Enterprises, a division of Cactus-Fish Partners Ltd., a subsidiary of Big Brother & The Holding Company. Members of the Cactus-Fish family are not eligible. Nor are Bill O'Reilly (don't like him), George Bush (not a big fan either), Paris Hilton (skanky), Britney Spears (similarly skanky), Jim Morrison (dead), Liberace (also dead) or Elvis Aaron Presley (missing). All entries must be submitted by midnight December 14, 2006.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (100)

December 6, 2006

Older, Wiser

So, yeah, yesterday was my birthday. Hard to miss it what with all the comments you guys left. You guys? Rock. Thank you for the good birthday wishes.

Beth and Mia also rock, of course. They colluded to cook my favorite dinner (stuffed peppers) and got me a kewl gift (a GPS navigator thingy so I'll never get lost, physically at least).

Now, don't get me wrong, I had a great birthday. I realized, though, that birthdays are starting to depress me. When I turned 30, I was fine. That whole decade older thing didn't get to me. In subsequent years, though, I started to pick up a growing undercurrent of melancholy. Nothing much, but detectable, and growing. Last night, for a split second, I considered the idea of not celebrating my birthday again. But then I certainly wouldn't want to totally give up the gifts.

What matters for me isn't getting older, or the cards and gifts that accompany the inevitable march of time. Instead, it's my family that matters most. It's about rolling around on the floor with my daughter or hiding around corners or learning how to say banana. Maybe that's what growing up and growing older is - shifting the focus from one's self to the people who matter the most. Get me - older and wiser. Who'da thunk it?

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (50)

December 5, 2006

This Day In History

On this day in history:


  • Christopher Columbus first set foot on Hispanola; cursed last guy who gave him directions.
  • The first fraternity (Phi Betta Kappa at William and Mary, in case you were curious) was founded; beer bongs invented later that evening.
  • President James Polk signaled the beginning of the California Gold Rush, followed shortly by the announcement that began the lesser-known Arkansas Thimble Rush.
  • Walt Disney, Strom Thurmond, Little Richard and Margaret Cho are born.
  • Prohibition ended; millions spread rampant debauchery and got first known cases of beer goggles.
  • Abbott and Costello Show gets the greenlight to combat television powerhouse Law & Order.
  • My mom ran up four flights of stairs and gives birth to yours truly twenty minutes later.

Yep, that's right - it's my birthday. I'm not telling you how old though. No, really. Well...okay...okay. I'll give you a hint. It rhymes with dirty whore.

Posted by Chris at 6:59 AM | Comments (156)

December 4, 2006

Cactus, Rude Cactus...License To Recap The Weekend

Are you guys sick of my uber-predictable Monday morning weekend recaps? Because that's the kind of action I'm about to break out on your asses right now. If you don't mind.

Last week was a tough one and, while this one promises to be a bit quieter, well, that promise is quite frequently broken. Luckily, Friday night and Sunday were prime vegetation days. And I needed vegetation. Not a nice green zucchini or a head of iceberg lettuce. I'm talking time without the need to think. On Saturday night, Beth and I went out. My parents pulled their first solo babysitting gig freeing us to catch dinner and a movie out. Dinner? Hickory smoked salmon over mashed potatoes. The movie? Bond, James Bond. Both were excellent.

A side note about Bond: I'm a James Bond fan. Staring in 1985 with A View To A Kill, I've seen every Bond flick in the theater. I've seen each movie countless times and suffered while the franchise substituted gadgets and double entendre for decent stories. Finally, they've made a movie Ian Fleming could be proud of. This Bond - with Daniel Craig - kicks ass. It's serious, fun, packed with action yet it feels Sean Connery old-school. Best Bond movie since Connery left, hands down.

When we arrived home, we found my parents awake, alive and in possession of all their hair. Mia was in bed. All was well. Of course my parents swore up and down that Mia had said football while we were gone (my dad had been watching a game). I laughed but was proven horribly wrong when, on Sunday morning, Mia uttered the word loud and clear.

So, all-in-all, it was a fantastic weekend that I wished had never ended. But it obviously did, since sitting at my desk downing a cup of coffee at 6:30 in the morning in the hope of recovering some control over my limbs, numbed due to the arctic windchill wouldn't be something I'd naturally decide to do if I'd had a choice in the matter.

On Friday night, I took a picture that I very much liked. Lots of things came together - I clicked the remote on the camera and jumped whilst Mia had a look of awe (fear?) on her face - all at the right second. But of course, it wasn't just luck. It was persistence. I give you the original and the outtakes.

So, what's up with you guys?

Update: It was brought to my attention that I failed to mention the pre-birthday pancakes Beth made for me for breakfast on Saturday. Blueberry pancakes. This was a terrible oversight. The sheer tastiness of said pancakes - their fluffy, syrupy, blueberry goodness - obviously still clouds my sense of judgment hence the startling omission.

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (50)

Haiku For Monday #149

Weekend, where art thou?
Like a cheap hooker, she ran
into the cold night.

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (8)

December 3, 2006

Another Reason I Love This Gig

A blogger's work is never done. This weekend I had the tough task of reviewing yet another gadget sent to me by my buddy Charlie. Specifically, the Insignia Sport MP3 player. Nose to the grindstone, I poked, prodded, charged, loaded, and listened and I can now pass along my verdict.

This little sucker's pretty cool. A little smaller than my cell phone (a Motorola Razr) and quite a bit lighter, I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much. But I was wrong.

Booting up the unit brought me to a pretty comprehensive splash screen where I was able to navigate through the several categories of media the player supports. Audio book, video, photo and audio files are all available from this screen. Navigation to each is simple using the navigation wheel. I was most curious about the video playback so I checked that out first. The video is crystal clear and, despite the relatively small screen (about the size of a standard cell-phone screen), details are sharp. Next I tried the audio, having loaded a few MP3s. Sound was strong, bolstered by enhancements made through the equalizer onboard the unit. The only drawback noted here was in the navigation between artists, albums and songs. It wasn't completely intuitive and took a while to get the hang of. Perhaps the greatest selling point? A built in FM radio. I know, I know...no one listens to the radio anymore but it's nice to have the option.

The storage - 1-2 GB with a MicroSD expansion slot for even more storage - is impressive. The rechargeable battery stays alive for quite a while (the box advertises 18 hours and I've found nothing to prove that wrong). Headphones are provided, as well as two separate ports to plug the headphones into so you and whoever you happen to be hanging out with can listen. A USB cable is provided as is additional software. Of course, I couldn't tell you anything about that. I installed nothing. It's true plug and play. The MP3 player acts as an additional hard drive; drag and drop your media files into the appropriate folders and you're good to go.

I have an iPod. It's got 40 GB worth of storage and I love the way it operates. This won't replace it for me. But if you're in the market for a nice MP3 player that won't break the bank, this is a good investment. My caveat? I've had this thing for a week. Who knows how it'll work over time. From my point of view, you're getting a lot of features for $80.00.

While we're talking about stuff from Best Buy, it's probably worth mentioning that the Best Buy Blue Shirts are hosting a chat session on December 15th at 1:00 PM. If you're wondering what to get all those people on your Christmas lists, give them a try. You can check them out at www.askablueshirt.com Some additional info can be found at YouTube. In addition, Best Buy's launching The Wow Factor Finder as a gift-giving resource for the holidays.

Now, never let it be said no one told you how to find cool stuff to give for the holidays!

Posted by Chris at 10:28 AM | Comments (6)

December 2, 2006

Rock

Posted by Chris at 12:36 PM | Comments (33)

December 1, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Schadensmorgasbord

You know, there's just too much going on this week, too many asshats in the news being all asshatalicious. So why choose? Here are some of the best.


  • The Headline: Britney Spears Shows Her Crotch Again

    The Quote: "Britney Spears seems intent on finding out what the human limit of flashing your beaver is. This is the second night in a row and the third time in one week she's been photographed without panties on."

    The Verdict: You didn't catch it the first time around? Lucky you. The papparazzi were waiting for me to get out of my car this morning. Thank god I had underwear on.

  • The Headline: Pastor who gave eulogy accused of murder

    The Quote: "Even in 2004, when the Rev. Howard Douglas Porter eulogized a friend killed in a car crash in which Porter was driving, the victim's friends and relatives were suspicious. They feared Porter deliberately planned the crash to get his hands on the multimillion-dollar trust fund of Frank Craig, an 85-year-old farmer."

    The Verdict: Apparently you can be a man of god and an asshat. Who's going to hell now, sucker?

  • The Headline: Traces of radiation found on jets in investigation of Russian ex-spy's death

    The Quote: "Investigators found traces of radiation on two British Airways planes Wednesday as police widened a complex international investigation into the mysterious poisoning death last week of a former Russian spy. The discovery of polonium-210, the rare and lethal radioactive substance that killed Alexander Litvinenko and ignited a public health scare, could be a sign that police are on the trail of a suspected killer who traveled between London and Moscow."

    The Verdict: Do not glow gentle into that good night.

  • The Headline: Thursday 'View' kind to drunken DeVito

    The Quote: "The ladies of "The View" are laughing off Danny DeVito's loopy behavior during his appearance on the daytime talk show. "Danny DeVito is not an alcoholic," co-host Rosie O'Donnell said Thursday. "He's just a guy who had too many with his friend." On Wednesday's show, the 62-year-old actor admitted he'd had a late night out with George Clooney and said, "I knew it was the last seven limoncellos that was going to get me.""

    The Verdict: Actually, the video is up on YouTube and it's pretty damn funny. The dude's lit! Although wouldn't you be if you were married to Rhea Perlman?

  • The Headline: Legally blind woman, 94, bowls a 244

    The Quote: "Esther Medley of Centralia is legally blind, but when she bowls she can glimpse a bit of the floor to line up with the lane. Medley, 94, can't see straight ahead, so her 86-year-old husband Ralph tells her which pins are left after her first ball. That's how Medley recently bowled a score of 244, which included eight strikes, at Fairway Lanes in Centralia.""

    The Verdict: In no way is this schadenfreude but it sure is a damn fine story. I couldn't bowl a 244 if all the pins looked like Ann Coulter.


And there you have it - a symphony of schadenfreude. What did I miss?

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (38)


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