March 31, 2008

Three Day Weekends and Cupcakes

Monday is somewhat of a rude awakening due, in part, because I took the day off on Friday. It's also damn early. Unlike previous attempts at taking the day off, I paid absolutely no attention to work whatsoever. I didn't even get the shakes or anything. But what did I do with the time? Mia and Owen thankfully conspired to let us sleep in. I'm not talking something acceptable to a college student, like noon, or anything. But I was in bed at least three hours longer than I usually am. It was wonderful. We got up (eventually), quickly got dressed and the four of us headed to Mia's music class. We danced, sang, and played instruments for an hour then hit a drive through and got french fries. Then we danced, sang, played instruments, skipped a nap and some of us got really grumpy and needed an early bed time.

Much of Saturday was spent working on the house. I rewired and replaced a kitchen light and we installed a new ceiling fan in the kitchen. Out with the fugly remnant last cool in 1986 (if ever). We've been here since August and already - with the exception of two ceiling fans and anything in the basement - we've replaced every single fixture in the place.

Though the reasons are unclear at this point, Sunday involved a bit of sleeping and screaming. I slept in with Owen after which he decided it would be a cool idea to show off his precociousness and roll over whilst lying on his stomach on the floor. We were all duly impressed especially since Beth managed to catch it on video.


Untitled from PlaygroupDropout on Vimeo.

Of course, also caught on tape is me tickling Mia enough to cause her to topple to the floor smashing her head in the process. She was fine. I was slightly more traumatized. So, it was a mixed bag as far as the videotaping went but a rather strong day in the developmental category. I'm sure next weekend Owen will show off by riding a bike or writing his first novel.

Then we made cupcakes.

Last night before putting Mia to bed, both Mia and Owen were hanging out on our bed. When I was out in the hallway, Mia started talking to Owen. She was telling him that something was okay then she launched into a story. It was adorable. Absolutely adorable. When I actually went into the room a few minutes later, Owen was lying down on the bed, a huge smile on his face, staring at the ceiling fan while Mia was attempting to hide under a giant sombrero (Yes, for some reason there was a sombrero in our bedroom. Ole!). I was, yet again, reminded how wonderful and ridiculous life is.

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (25)

Haiku For Monday #211

I kinda hope the
alarm clock's inventor* died
a horrible death.

* this would be Levi Hutchins, an American, in 1787. I consider that kind of activity traitorous.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (5)

March 28, 2008

The Weeklies #29

The Weekly Best Idea. Taking today off. Best idea ever. (Hell, I just slept until 8:00. How cool is that?)

The Weekly Best Band Name. Fuck Buttons. Seriously. Awesome. Name. Except I have a question. Is it fuck buttons, as in buttons that make you fuck or, instead, fuck buttons like some kind of rallying cry against the use of that particular fastener?

The Weekly Best Song Name Inspired by a Toddler. Cheese On The Windowsill (Ask The Kid)

The Weekly Reads. Joseph Finder can write a good book. Sadly, Power Play isn't really a great example. Picture Die Hard in the woods. Not all that great an idea, right?

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Richie Sambora - he of Bon Jovi fame who, I would argue, actually has a better voice that Jon - got popped for a little drunk driving. Bad. He had his 10 year old daughter in the car with him. Worse...a whole lot worse. Richie Sambora? Officially in the Stupidest Musicians Of All Time Hall Of Fame.

The Weekly (Not So) Hypothetical Question. Let's say you take a day off from work. What do you do with it?

Posted by Chris at 8:19 AM | Comments (43)

March 27, 2008

Tourist Season (And an Oddly Worn Shirt)

Last week I briefly touched on the horde of tourists that have descended on Washington DC as they do every spring. They're here to take in the beautiful cherry blossoms, see the monuments and take advantage of the museums. And I can't blame them. I've been downtown each day this week and it's a beautiful sight. But for some reason every tourist in the city seems to think that I'm some authority on the the nation's capital. Though I'm dressed like everyone else who works downtown - suit, tie, laptop bag slung over my shoulder - I'm apparently the go-to guy for directions. And while I'm sure some really smart people come visit my fair city, most of these folks aren't that bright. Take these three examples...

Tourist: Where are all the cherries people keep talking about?
Me: Cherry blossoms.
Tourist: Yeah, where are they? All I see are trees with a bunch of flowers on them.
Me: Where are you from?
Tourist: Detroit.
Me: You're going back soon, right? Please?

Tourist: That's the Old Executive Office Building, right?
Me: Yep. Sure is.
Tourist: Why do they call it the Old Executive Office Building?
Me: Because it's, well, old and it's an executive office building.
Tourist: Huh.
Me: Yeah, they're cryptic here in Washington.

Tourist: Excuse me. Can you tell me where the White House is?
Me: See that white house over there behind me?
Tourist: Yeah...and?
Me: Do you really not see where I'm going with this?

And after a day of dealing with work and tourists, and problems that aren't important in the grand scheme of things but certainly seemed important surrounded by the four walls that constitute work, it was wonderful when I arrived at home to find my daughter undressed and silly and my son smiling wide.

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

March 26, 2008

Not Any Other Tuesday Night

Last night was busy. A lot happened.

First, while Mia was holding Owen, it suddenly hit me how absolutely enormous he is. I mean, he could pretty much be a starting linebacker for the local high school team next season. He's only six weeks old and look at the pile of stuff he's already outgrown.


Also, Mia did my hair. And accessorized me. That's hott. With two Ts.

Third up, my beautiful, poop-averse little girl who has spent the last two days putting plastic eggs together and pulling them apart finally peed in her potty. Needless to say there was quite a bit of partying in the Cactus-Fish household.

Finally, after a long hard day at a client site, I shared an elevator with George Will (I'm pretty sure) and I won an award at work. I pulled down quite a bit of cash with the award. I didn't get anything for riding in an elevator with George Will.

You know, a couple of years ago very few of these things would have happened much less seemed so exciting. Now, it's life. And it's pretty cool.

So, what celebrities have you had run-ins with? Please tell me they've been better than George Will.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (67)

March 25, 2008

To Whom It May Concern

OR, THREE LETTERS TO RANDOM PEOPLE

Dear Nice Elevator Guy,

I hold elevators for everyone. Usually people are nice. They say 'thanks' or something. That's cool. But today, when you got in the elevator in the parking garage, you set the bar a little higher.

You: Thank you! That was really nice of you.
Me: My pleasure. What floor?
You: Oh, you're on the floor under me but I won't hit the button so you can get down first.
Me: Come on - you don't have to do that.
You: No, this time of day, everyone wants to get home to their families. I'm sure you're no exception.
Me: I'm not in that much of a hurry, but thanks.
You: It was nice of you to hold the elevator. So, thank you.

I'd had a hard Monday, been thinking that the world was kind of sucky. But you, single-handedly, turned my attitude around. So, thanks.

Thanks,
Chris


Dear Flickr Asshat Commenter,

I'm so glad you checked out my photos. And so glad you left a comment on one of my self-portraits. There were a couple of issues I had with the comment though.

flickr.comment.jpg

First, I'm not Asian. I once convinced a coworker that I was born on mainland China simply because he was being a xenophobic asshat (sound familiar?) and even regaled him with fake Chinese until he believed me. But I'm not Asian. And contrary to what you may think, I'm proud to be an American ('cos at least I know I'm free). I don't happen to agree with our current management, so I often wear a t-shirt expressing that sentiment. That's my right. So I respectfully disagree with your entire argument and overall sentiment in general. And I respectfully inform you that your grammar and spelling fucking suck.

Regards,
The Dirty Asian*


Dear Harley-Riding Dad With A Ten Year Old Kid Riding Bitch Strapped On To You With A Bungee Cord,

What the fuck were you thinking?

Yours in Christ,
Chris


* P.S. Thank you Krystyn for the head's up and watching my ass. Figuratively, of course.


Posted by Chris at 6:19 AM | Comments (38)

March 24, 2008

Easily Eggcited

When I was a kid, I loved hunting for Easter eggs. I didn't really remember how much until I found myself running around my backyard yesterday morning, frantically hiding as many as I could while Beth got Mia dressed. I don't know what it is - maybe it's just something that brings out the treasure-hunter in all of us. But I had fun, sprinkling eggs filled with Skittles, M&Ms and jelly beans around my backyard, hiding them behind the eruptions of daffodils and tulips, behind rocks and on stepping stones now partially obscured by the green grass that's just started to fill in again around them. Best of all, of course, was watching Mia try to find them. She loved it, every second.


After she'd retrieved all the eggs, we "played candy" which was a game that involved no skills other than opening the eggs, checking that the candy hadn't magically disappeared, and snapping the eggs back together.

Competing for first place in my "Great Moments of Easter 2008" contest would be the two hours I spent under Owen, both of us sacked out on the couch. When Mia was little I loved those moments but I think I might treasure them more now. Because that time - the time you're allowed by your kids to cuddle them, to nap with them, arms tight around them - is limited. I miss it with Mia. I treasure those moments with Owen knowing they won't last forever.

The rest of the day was spent in a chocolate and sugar-fueled haze. We went to my parents' house for dinner with the entire family. Mia hid eggs then found them then hid them again. Owen let every single family member hang on to him and love him as long as they wanted. We ran ourselves ragged keeping up with both of them.

Now it's Monday and I'm tired. Which probably explains why I'm sitting here at my desk tipping back a giant cup of coffee while munching on a chocolate-covered, marshmallow-filled egg. Cheers.

What did you do for Easter?

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (34)

Haiku For Monday #210

Is it possible
that I could suffer from a
Peep hangover? Yes.

Posted by Chris at 7:05 AM | Comments (6)

March 21, 2008

The Weeklies #28

The Weekly Most Worst Moment. There were five of them - each time the alarm went off the first time each day.

The Weekly Number. 55,527 - total comments on my site. Wow.

The Weekly Reads. Don Winslow's The Winter Of Frankie Machine was one of the best pieces of crime fiction I've ever read. His California Fire and Life was almost as good. I had high hopes for The Death and Life of Bobby Z. I was a little disappointed. Don't get me wrong - it's a good book but it just wasn't up to the high standard Winslow set for himself. Try some of Winslow's other stuff, then give Bobby Z a shot.

The Weekly Words. Sleep and deprivation. I need a nap.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. So, shortly after taking over the reins of gubernatorial power from Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson and his wife stood in front of journalists and admitted to a long series of extra-marital affairs. Now, I realize his motivation was to head off potential scandal but it doesn't seem to have worked. In making his own statement he essentially blamed his wife for the affairs themselves. This begs one question - what the hell is in the water up there in New York? Also, Heather Mills landed $48 million in her divorce from Sir Paul. Next time, prenup, Paul.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. You are offered any talent - you can dance like Astaire, paint like VanGogh, or write like Hemingway for instance. The only problem is that, while this talent will make you famous and world-renown for whatever it is, you'll lose any other existing talents you have. What do you do? And what talent would you like to have above all?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (30)

March 20, 2008

Springtime In Monkeytown

Most weeks, I end up spending a couple days in Monkeytown*, a couple of days in my office in Virginia and, generally, Fridays holed up in the basement working from home. This week, though, I've had three straight days in Monkeytown. And I like Monkeytown. It's a beautiful city and I can't get used to the fact that I work here in the nation's capital. I pass by the Washington and Lincoln monuments every day and they are still awe-inspiring. But, since it's spring, I'm starting to remember some of the things I hate about being there.

Protesters. I get that there are always going to be people who have a beef with the government. Frankly, I've got several myself. Pissed off about the war on this, it's fifth anniversary? Word. Tired of a corrupt, out of touch republican administration? Solidarity, brother. Think pre-op transvestites deserve to carry automatic weapons with armor piercing bullets? You're on your own there. But if you're going to protest - for any reason - leave the average, everyday guy out of it. Don't block traffic, don't barricade yourself in front of buildings, and please refrain from stripping naked and running through the streets unless you're hot.

Buses. Springtime in Washington is beautiful what with all the cherry blossoms, nice weather, street vendors and homeless guys lying on street corners covered with aforementioned cherry blossoms. To save the sanity of everyone who works and lives in the city, though, nothing would be more welcome than a complete ban on buses. They're big, they stink, they take up two lanes of traffic, they park wherever the hell they want and their drivers - I'm convinced - are legally blind. In the spring, thousands of buses descend on the District polluting the city and running drivers off the road. Worse, they nearly double the time it takes to get out of the city by car. That leads to...

Tourists. This is a cool place to visit. I'm not telling anyone they shouldn't. But for the love of god, if you're visiting the city and have no idea where you're going (or even if you think you do), don't drive. The District is overrun with people every spring and summer who lose their fucking minds trying to find their ways from point A to B. Driving around here is a little tricky. We have good public transportation - use it. Take a taxi, walk, grab the subway. Just don't come on a bus.

What's the problem where you live or work? And, hypothetically, if you had to sabotage a very large group of buses over a six month period, how would you do it?


* "Monkeytown" is what my daughter calls Washington DC. It's unclear why.
** I'd like to point out just how well I've managed to hold my tongue about the war in this post. I avoided saying much of anything about its unjustness. Or how it was sold to us based on lies, half-truths and spin. I avoided talking about the 4,000 American lives that have been lost as well as the countless innocent victims. I didn't even mention the monetary cost ($503 billion to date) and how senseless it is when contrasted with the financial downturn that promises to be more than just a small blip on America's economic radar. I didn't even sink to the obvious, low blows like calling the president names like "Dubya" or "asshat" or "dipshit." Admire the self-restraint.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (59)

March 19, 2008

A Day In The Life

Probably the most frequent comment I get on this site is "how do you find the time to do ________" (fill in the blank with whatever it is I talked about on any given day - reading, playing with the kids, listening to music, working...). The problem is that I never actually know the answer. I'm not superhuman nor am I able to bend the laws of physics or time. What I do know is that I'm an overachiever and tend to pack a lot into a day. Using yesterday as a model - plus some healthy generalization - I've come up with the following fairly representative schedule. Here's a day in my world.

  • 5:15 AM: Alarm clock goes off. Despite turning the alarm to "buzz" country music blares. Hit snooze.
  • 5:25 AM: Alarm clock again. Inexplicably, Pink Floyd plays. Note that Comfortably Numb is not typically thought of as a country song. Hit snooze.
  • 5:35 AM: Alarm clock again. Standard buzzing. Kidney punch from Beth. Turn alarm off. Think country music/Pink Floyd thing might have been a dream. Get naked, cold ass out of bed. Clean self. Get dressed.
  • 5:50 AM: Stumble in dark narrowly avoiding falling down stairs and resulting massive head trauma. Gather stuff, open garage, head to work.
  • 6:25 AM: Starbucks. Order "venti", Latin for "big fucking coffee".
  • 6:30 AM: Arrive at work. Curse self for not being independently wealthy. Drink coffee like a homeless drunk guzzles a bottle of Thunderbird.
  • 6:30 - 8:30 AM: Catch up on and respond to the 4,392 "flagged for follow-up" emails in inbox.
  • 8:30 AM: Conference call.
  • 9:00 AM: Conference call (Son of the Conference Call)
  • 9:30 AM: Conference call (The Conference Call Strikes Back)
  • 10:00 - 11:00 AM: Meeting
  • 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM: Meeting
  • 12:00 - 1:00 PM: Meeting
  • 1:00 - 2:30 PM: Try to accomplish all the stuff I didn't get through during the two free hours I had in the morning. Not to mention responding to the 349 emails that came in while I was sitting on conference calls or in meetings.
  • 2:30 - 4:00 PM: Conference call (...just when you thought it was safe to pick up the phone...)
  • 4:00 - 4:30 PM: Wrap up loose ends
  • 4:30 - 5:30 PM: Travel home, also known as "sitting in traffic."
  • 5:30 - 6:00 PM: Play with kids, eat dinner.
  • 6:00 - 7:00 PM: Do dishes, play with kids.
  • 7:00 - 8:30 PM: Get Mia ready for bed. Play. Read stories.
  • 8:30 - 9:00 PM: Take a shower. Decompress.
  • 9:00 - 10:00 PM: Blog, answer email, gaze mindlessly at the television set, attempt limited interactions with wife.
  • 10:00 PM: Get ready for bed.
  • 10:15 - 11:30 PM: Read.
  • 11:30 PM: Sleep. Perchance, dream.
And there you have it - my days. I'll add that usually there are more meetings. Seriously.

What do your days look like?

Posted by Chris at 6:16 AM | Comments (52)

March 18, 2008

It's The End Of The World...As You Know It

I don't mean to alarm you but it's quite possible that the end of the world is near. Don't be surprised if, by the end of the day, you see pigs taking flight. Nor should you be shocked if Paris Hilton wins the Gloria Steinem Woman Of The Year Award, George Bush learns long division and how to say nuclear, Pink Floyd reunites for both a brand new album and a world tour, global warming is fully reversed, Britney is voted Mother Of The Year, the war in Iraq ends and ushers in a long period of lasting peace throughout the world, Tibet is freed, Ann Coulter admits she has a penis and it's actually her shame that's made her so irritable, Jim Carey makes a movie that doesn't drive me absolutely apeshit, and the cure for cancer is found and that cure is donuts.

Why? On Sunday afternoon, I shed my pants, put on shorts, threw on my running shoes, turned on the treadmill and ran. Two miles. Running. There was no one behind me with a baseball bat or a gun. I wasn't being chased by a wild animal or the ghost of a teenage girlfriend's father who discovered his daughter and I doing something morally questionable in their basement. Just me. Running. By choice. Fucking A.

I'm not sure what exactly got into me but all the nervousness surrounding the whole Great Insurance Debacle of 2008 got to me. I wanted to shed a little energy. And shed I did. Two miles worth of shedding. And do you want to know something? It didn't kill me. In fact, it felt kind of good. Now, I'm not going to make any promises about turning this bizarre activity into a habit. But don't be surprised if it happens again. Or the universe implodes.

Two marginally off-topic updates:
#1. As to the insurance issue itself, I'm happy to let you all know that everything worked out all right. We're covered. Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed.
#2. You guys keep telling me I haven't posted enough pictures recently. Well, behold.

Posted by Chris at 6:27 AM | Comments (30)

March 17, 2008

Tightrope

Late last week, Beth reminded me that we needed to enroll Owen in my health insurance plan. I figured out who to talk to, sent an email or two and was asked to provide Owen's birth date to get the process started. As an aside, I was told that I had 31 days from Owen's birth date to enroll him. For those of you trying to remember when Owen was born or counting days on a calendar, I'll save you the trouble. I spent half the weekend counting days on the calendar as if a few days or, maybe, a week would spontaneously disappear. When I sent that email, we were about 34 days out. Shit.

I spent the weekend sending emails to benefits managers and human resources people with the hope that someone would check in and send back some at least marginally hopeful message informing us that there may be some way around this. I got some traction. But the bottom line - we have an uninsured newborn. That scare the shit out of me.

On Saturday, Mia and I went to a local bookstore. Our mission? Find more Backyardigans books. (On a side note - this is the first time I've been in a bookstore in about a month since I launched a mission of my own to avoid buying new books while reading some of the thousands of unread books that exist, feeling unloved, in my basement.) Once we found and bought the books Mia was looking for, we left and headed to the car. Behind us we both heard random, demented yelling. We turned and saw a crazy lady shouting at herself. This is not unusual. The bookstore is located somewhat close to a facility that gets regular visits from some of Virginia's finest homeless residents. This woman was shouting at herself while pretending to smoke an unlit cigarette butt, scribbling on what looked like an old day planner she'd removed from a garbage bag of what seemed to be all her earthly belongings.

This got me thinking. How far are any of us from that?

Money is fantastic in that it can buy cars, homes, books, music, fancy cell phones and other really cool stuff. But it also allows us to purchase safety nets - education, 401Ks, health and life insurance, medical spending accounts. Take those safety nets away and we all become vulnerable to the things that life throws at us. Or, as an author wrote in a book I read over the weekend, "sometimes you get remote-control screwed just for nothing at all, just because that's the way the world spins, and sometimes it's because you fucked up in the smallest of ways." Each small bump in the road becomes more and more catastrophic.

I'm not trying to bum or freak anyone out. It's just, well, that like everyone I worry about bad things happening and sometimes it seems that they can happen a little bit more easily than any of us would like to believe.

And you...what's your biggest safety net-related fear?

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (41)

Haiku For Monday #209

Monday, already?
You're shitting me, right? Please tell
me this is a joke.

Posted by Chris at 6:25 AM | Comments (2)

March 14, 2008

The Weeklies #27

The Weekly Most Ridiculous Moment. This whole week has been a seemingly endless string of exhausting and mostly ridiculous moments. It would be hard to pick just one.

The Weekly Amount Of Money I Paid When I Decided to Suck It Up And Pay My Speeding Ticket. $132.50

The Weekly Words. Implemented, comprehensive and ensure. I'm writing a document that is, by design, long-winded like me. I have used those three words more than I thought possible.

The Weekly Reads. I tackled two books this week. The first was nothing but classic pulp fiction in the form of Richard Stark's Lemons Never Lie. Can't you tell how awesome it was just by the title? The second was Joe McGinniss' slightly more serious The Delivery Man. There was more than one blurb on the jacket that mentioned Bret Easton Ellis. I was skeptical and initially didn't at all agree. But the reviewers were onto something with their comparison. It falls apart, though, in that Ellis' novels are typically cold, bleak. They're populated with characters you really don't like doing morally questionable things. McGinniss' creation finds people you kind of like doing morally questionable things and you hope they can somehow come back from the brink but you wouldn't bet on it. The Delivery Man is a great read and a wonderful first novel.

The Weekly Music. Ever since one of his songs was featured on Grey's Anatomy (yes, I'm a lemming), I've been meaning to find something by Joe Henry. I picked up Civilians though I was a little skeptical based on the insanely divergent labels applied to Henry in reviews - country, folk, crooner, cabaret, folk and blues. Turns out they were all correct. The craziest thing is that it all works. Civilians is a fantastic album. During my hunt for Henry, I happened upon Strange Weirdos - Music Inspired by the Film Knocked Up by Loudon Wainwright, also featuring Joe Henry. Admittedly, I never saw the movie but the album is damn good. And so is Wainwright (who's also Rufus' dad).

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Two words - Eliot Spitzer. Three words - eighty thousand dollars. Three more words - for a hooker. One more fancy hyphenated word - dumb-ass. Maybe the worst thing about the whole thing is the math - there are estimations out there that he spent up to $80,000. What could she have possibly have done in bed that was worth $80,000?

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. You find a sack of money. It contains $20,000. If you take it, you will not get caught. You don't know exactly where it came from but you can be assured that it's not coming out of any individual's pocket. Do you take it and live with whatever guilt you might have? Or do you take the money and enjoy spending it?

Posted by Chris at 6:45 AM | Comments (45)

March 13, 2008

Coffee, Smiles and an Arch Nemesis

There a slight chance I drink a little too much coffee. Okay, so, the chance may be more than just slight.


Despite this, I'm exhausted. Seriously exhausted. Work is pretty much kicking my ass and my ass is too tired to fight back. Yet I can claim a minor victory this week.

While I try to avoid talking about work, I'm happy to report that my arch nemesis upped and quit. Of course, this would carry more weight and be much more dramatic if I had actually kept you in the loop on that whole arch nemesis thing to begin with. But, like I said, I don't really talk about work all that much. Suffice it to say he played Lex Luthor to my Superman, Doctor Octopus to my Spider-Man, termite to my Bob Vila. You get the drift. After trying to single-handedly ruin my reputation as an all-around good guy which no one fell for, ding dong the asshole's gone.

So, that was good...but not as good as coming down off my caffeine high and heading home to see my smiling kids.

Who is your arch nemesis?

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (51)

March 12, 2008

Search String Madness: The Four Days in February Edition

Friends, I'm dismayed. My hosting provider managed to crap out on me when it comes to the search logs that I love so bad. My plan was to review them and post the hilarious and vaguely scary results here. But they've somehow managed to delete everything except a few days in February. But I'm not letting that stop me. So here they are - bizarre search strings from approximately four days in February.

  • Free peekshows. Sorry. None of that here. And the term is peepshows. That is, unless you're looking for a hot girl showing off her tips and slaved pushy. Dumbass.
  • Banana bible. "And he said unto the people, gathereth thine banabas and I shall turneth them into daiquiris. And the people rejoiced and had cocktails with those tiny little colorful umbrellas in them. And it was good."
  • Kinetic energy kids. I don't know what the hell it means but it's a great band name.
  • Pooping on someone. You fuckers are sick.
  • Stevie Nicks tattoo. Much clarification is needed. Is this a search for a tattoo Stevie Nicks has? Or is someone actually trying to find a tattoo of Stevie Nicks? Neither is right but that second option is just all kinds of wrong. Rhiannon!
  • Cicadas in Canada. Another great band name.
  • Golfing innuendos. Surely you mean "euphemisms". Like, "hey baby, want to play a round with my wood" or "let me stroke my balls into that hole."
  • Hot ass mess. Interpretation of this is almost entirely hinged upon punctuation. Hot-ass mess is one thing. Hot ass-mess is another, very different, incredibly disgusting one.
  • Thomas Kincaid scandal. Isn't the fact that people shell out thousands of dollars for his paintings scandal enough?
  • Supple ass. Hey, stop groping my ass over the internet. But, uh, thanks.
  • Ron Jeremy McDonalds commercial. Super-size me, indeed.
  • Cactus vibrator. Look, I know it takes all kinds but surely you're kidding. Please. Tell me your kidding.
  • Is Estelle Getty still alive. She sure is. And hott as ever.
  • Do cats burp? No. That's why on very rare occasions, you'll be walking outside watching a cat play and he'll just spontaneously explode.
  • Meaning of tranny. A hot, hot totally heterosexual girl who wants to fuck you. Go for it dude.
  • Search string madness site rudecactus.com. If I both post this and write a marginally witty comment about this particular search string, I'm pretty sure the universe will explode. It's kinda like that Escher drawing of the hand drawing the hand. Okay, I'm going to post. Is the universe still there? Ya'll still out there? Seriously, this is kinda freaking me out. Please...for the love of god, Suzanne Somers and all that is holy, answer me internet?
Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (28)

March 11, 2008

Fast Processor, No Memory

I think all of us have certain things we just can't remember. My father-in-law, for instance, maintains that he can only keep track of six unrelated facts at any given moment. I think I'm a little better than that but not by much. What surprises me is the astounding amount of useless stuff I hang on to contrasted against the shortage of seemingly important information I just can't hold on to.

I can't remember how old I am. I mean, I can now that I'm thinking of it but stop me on the street and ask me how old I am and I'm likely to give you a blank stare. Not just because its an odd question for a perfect stranger to be stopping me on the street and asking. I'll struggle a little bit with the response. Then I'll do the math. Current year minus 1972 equals....

I have no clue how much money I make a year. I guess that's a good problem to have - I like what I do so the money is secondary. Still, isn't that something you're supposed to remember?

Trash day is my nemesis. Since we moved - in August - trash days have been Tuesdays and Fridays with a recycling pickup on Wednesdays. On Sunday night I threw on shoes and a jacket and headed towards the back door. "Where are you going?" Beth asked. I was about to tell her that I was going to take out the trash when I caught myself. Of course, that didn't stop me from waking up yesterday morning at 5:00 worried about getting the trash to the curb before they showed up that morning. That thought rambled around my head for the next hour or so, until I was dressed and heading to work, pulling the trashcan down the driveway only to notice that there were no other cans out. Then I realized.

I don't remember much about high school. I feel I should. I remember some of the choice nuggets. I remember the times hanging out with friends cruising the backroads of Virginia with some metal band blaring. I remember being the editor of my high school newspaper for three years. I remember getting continually kicked out of a creative writing class my senior year because I couldn't stop laughing. I took it with three friends and we all cracked each other up, particularly when one of them took one of the aging school desks to a shop class so he could arc weld it back together. That in an of itself wouldn't have been funny had it not collapsed with him sitting in it several days later. I remember senior year, during the modified schedule for finals; when my best friend and I had finished our finals, we bought wine coolers with her sister's expired license and got drunk while playing tennis. The thing is, I don't remember what it was like day-to-day. I went back to my high school to vote in the primaries last month and there were whole hallways and classrooms I don't remember. It was strange. I felt old. And big, since the hallways seemed smaller than I remembered.

I'm not sure how I landed on this topic. But I suspect that it was because of the trash. Which I took out last night. The appropriate night. What can't you remember that you feel like you should?

Posted by Chris at 7:12 AM | Comments (42)

March 10, 2008

Missing: One Hour, Last Seen Saturday Night

The weekend was too short. I realize that's pretty much the most obvious statement ever made particularly since the majority of you out there are thinking the exact same thing. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my disillusionment with the world stemming from the fact that it is, indeed, early on a Monday morning. I'm further disillusioned by the fact that one hour was hijacked from us like an airliner in the Middle East in the 70s. I want that hour back. Now.

Over this 47-hour weekend, there were a few developments in kidland (which should be an amusement park however how many of you would pay $50 to ride the Incredible Sleep Deprivation Coaster or take a spirited plunge down the Spit Up Rapids?).

First, Owen. He spent the weekend growing out of all the newborn stuff we have for him. I have this strange feeling that when I arrive home this afternoon, he'll say "hi dad!", slap me on the back and bench-press my Volkswagen. Along with the increase in size is his increased awareness. His favorite new trick is finding me in a room, holding eye contact and breaking into a great big smile. Okay, I know what you're saying - he probably caught sight of my cool blue Nationals hat, thought it was cool and simultaneously ripped a great big fart. But still, it's pretty cool and I choose to believe he's just happy to see his dad.

Second, Mia. I know things have been moving in this direction for a very long time but on Friday night, Mia and I were hiding under the blanket on my bed and we ended up having a really nice, long conversation. It was the first of many this weekend. I joked around with her, she laughed, she talked about her little brother, I responded. It was like having a conversation with this mature, independent person. Which - holy shit - is exactly what she is. To further confirm this, she was accepted into the preschool we wanted her to attend. Chris, she's old enough for preschool. How in the hell did that happen? (See, this is why I want that fucking hour back.)

One of the many conversations we had took place while I was in the shower on Saturday morning. She likes to come and check on me when I'm showering. Sometimes she'll bring me a towel or pick out my clothes (handy!). Other times, she just sits on the toilet and talks to me. Often, she wants to discuss anatomy. Specifically, my anatomy. "Daddy," she said on Saturday, "you have a really, really big penis!" What, precisely, do you say to that? "Thanks" doesn't seem appropriate.

Finally - in a sign of just how ridiculous this world can be - I sold my mullet. No, I don't currently have a mullet but I sold the one I had in high school. Or, more correctly, I licensed my mullet. Seriously, someone wanted to pay me to use my mullet. More power to them, I say. My Kentucky waterfall is your Kentucky waterfall. Check it out over here (click the why buy now link at the bottom for my now-famous mullet in all its glory. And before you ask, no, I don't sign autographs.

Posted by Chris at 6:32 AM | Comments (40)

Haiku For Monday #208

Wish I had powers
like Neo dodging bullets
'cept I'd dodge Mondays.

Posted by Chris at 6:30 AM | Comments (2)

March 7, 2008

The Weeklies #26

The Weekly Most Ridiculous Moment. Mia hates having her toenails cut. Last night before putting her to bed, Beth decided it was time to give her a pedicure. With Owen on a blanket on the floor, and Mia screaming, I decided to distract everyone as best as possible. I took off my shirt and armpit farted, attempting to diffuse a tense situation. I did it with such fervor, my armpit is actually quite sore this morning.

The Weekly Reads. Spy by Ted Bell is a silly book. Bell writes about hero Alexander Hawke, a very James Bond-like figure who happens to be an ancestor of Blackbeard. So yeah, there's plenty of swashbuckling whatever the hell that is. It's pretty mindless fiction but it's fun to read.

The Weekly Music. Mia and I were in the car the other day listening to Prairie Home Companion. I know, that's got to be thrilling for a toddler, right? But once I explained that the music she was listening to was country - the music that cowgirls listen to - she was all over it. Turns out that what we were listening to was an attention grabber for me too. See, I've always been a closet Neil Young fan during the few moments each year I can forget how bad his voice actually is. So three angelic voices singing one of my favorite Neil Young songs - Old Man - was pretty great to hear. I headed to iTunes and found the album 40 Days by The Wailin' Jennys. Honestly, a really fantastic album.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Obama lost to Hillary. Bummer. Paris got a shaman to help improve her spirituality. Of course, the bearded mystery Asian guy turned out to be an actor. And there's that little matter of Southwest Airlines flying unsafe planes. Sometimes its very clear to my why I hate to fly.

The Weekly Hypothetical Question. You will receive $100 million dollars for 20 years of your life. Let's say that those 20 years you lose will travel in a flash. You won't have any sense of the passage of time - nothing good, nothing bad...nothing. With the money you will obviously be set for life, every financial concern a thing of the past. Do you take it?

Posted by Chris at 6:19 AM | Comments (41)

March 6, 2008

Please Make It Stop

I'm not sure if it's a sign of fundamental happiness or insanity, but I typically wake up with a song running through my brain. It rattles around my brain until it escapes my mouth in a hum or whistle and it generally sticks with me most of the day. As you can imagine, this can be a blessing or a curse. Here's the tracklist for the past week or so.

  • Castaways (The Backyardigans)
  • Pirates Say Arrrrgh (The Backyardigans)
  • Twiddly Dee (The Backyardigans)
  • Tuba Polka (The Backyardigans)
  • Racing Day (The Backyardigans)
  • I Never Fail To Deliver The Mail (The Backyardigans)
  • Surf's Up, Ho Daddy (The Backyardigans)
  • A Challenge (The Backyardigans)
  • Eureka! (The Backyardigans)
  • We're Going to Mars (The Backyardigans)
  • Secret Agent (The Backyardigans)
  • Renegade (Styx)

A few questions. First, do you sense a theme? Second, when my brain finally decided to break the evil cycle of Backyardigans, why the fuck did it go with lame arena-rock band Styx? That ain't right.

As much as I'd love to hate The Backyardigans - Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, Tasha and Austin - I really can't. Seriously. I'd love an excuse. But they're pretty awesome. The shows are quite clever, the songs are infectious and Mia loves them with a fiery passion that burns with the strength of a thousand suns. But I am positive - absolutely convinced beyond any doubt whatsoever - that the geniuses behind this show have somehow injected it with the mental, television equivalent of crack. How else could you explain the subliminal compulsion that forces me to wake up with this unholy quintet rattling around in my head? Were I to be deprived of The Backyardigans, I know I would first experience the shakes, enter a violently convulsive state and end up chopping up my remote control, snorting it and praising the gods of Nickelodeon. And I'm fine with that. But god forbid I wake up singing Styx again.

What kind of crap is stuck in your head?

Posted by Chris at 6:57 AM | Comments (83)

March 5, 2008

File This!

It's been a busy work week already and I haven't ingested nearly as much coffee as I need. This explains the lousy attitude I've got. But, in exploring that lousy attitude, I have decided that I know exactly what I want to become when I grow up - a Corporate Asshole. I know what you're thinking - what the hell's a Corporate Asshole? Well, let me tell ya.

Even if you work for a small company, chances are you've had to put up with some self-centered asses. They're universal. They're everywhere. You've probably had to hold your tongue, bite back words and hold back your true feelings about these people. Enter the Corporate Asshole (er, wait, that didn't sound quite right).

The Corporate Asshole is just like any other employee of the company. He or she has a job with responsibilities and a skill-set just like everyone else. But - and this is key - unknown to everyone else in the company is his or her responsibility as the Corporate Asshole. It's a secret. The responsibility is simple - he or she gets paid a little extra to call people out on their crap and voice the frustrations of everyone else in the company. Here are some examples. I think you'll see where I'm coming from.

First, you see this email go out.

em1.jpg

Then, inevitably, this.
em2.jpg
You're shifting uncomfortably in your seat because you've seen this happen before and it drives you up the wall, right? This is where it would end in most companies. But here is where the Corporate Asshole makes his money. It would go a little something like this.
em3.jpg
Smackdown accomplished. Even if you can't be that guy - the Corporate Asshole handing down the whoop-ass - doesn't it feel good to watch? And now everyone's happy except the self-important asshat who, let's face it, brought this on himself. You can, I'm sure, see the brilliance in this plan as well as a host of other applications. It is your responsibility - nay, your duty - to bust the guy who finishes the last of the coffee but doesn't start another pot brewing. If you find someone copying their ass on the Xerox machine, you make a few hundred copies and wallpaper their office door with them. And instead of someone inevitably getting fired after having sexual harassment charges levied against them following a drunken night at the annual holiday party, you get toasty and grab a handful of ass. You can't be fired. It's your job. You are the enforcer and due to the many sacrifices such as this, the office savior. You're like Jesus. But with paper clips and a righteous stapler.

Who wants to back my bid to be the first Corporate Asshole? What job responsibilities have I missed?

Posted by Chris at 6:33 AM | Comments (29)

March 4, 2008

On Owen

Since he's entered his fourth week of life, it's probably about time I tell you a little about Owen. If it's not already clear, he's suffering from Second Child Syndrome. You know, the condition in which second children learn to fend for themselves and get their pictures taken about 10% as much as the first kid.

The most amazing thing is that Owen - even early in his life - is vastly different from Mia. Owen is laid back; Mia was not. Mia was pretty uptight in fact. Owen is relaxed about life outside the womb. Owen also sleeps. This one is key because, until she turned two, Mia didn't do much sleeping. Instead, she cried. Neither Beth nor I found that nearly as relaxing. We like Owen's approach. Sunday night, for instance, he slept for 7 hours straight. We were amazed.

Owen has just started to look around and take in his world. He's particularly interested in ceiling fans but is also a fan of dim lights, pictures on walls and Beth's boobs. My boobs have turned out to be far less interesting, perhaps because they're not nearly as multi-functional as Beth's. I don't blame him. I prefer Beth's boobs to mine too.

Mia continues to love her brother profoundly and absolutely. She is fascinated with him and wants nothing more than to hold him, kiss him and hug him. When he cries, Mia says, "Listen! Owen must be crying for me. I must go see him!" We've actually had to pry her off him. So far, we've got all the love and none of the jealousy. We expect the other shoe to drop any minute. But we're loving the calm before the storm.

Owen's eyes are blue. His brown hair sticks straight up, especially after he's had a bath. His fingers and toes are tiny and grab anything within reach. He makes funny little noises, the way all babies do. He looks like a tiny grumpy old man much of the time, especially when he cries but occasionally I can catch a glimpse of exactly what he's going to look like in ten years. And he's beautiful.

Parenting two kids is a study in contrasts. When Owen holds my finger, I look at his little hands and realize how tiny he is. And when I scoop Mia up in a tickle-fight, I realize how much she's grown. Owen's my little man but Mia's no longer my baby girl. I love the fact that Mia and I have long conversations about the Backyardigans, musical instruments and sandwiches. I love that level of interaction. But I missed babies more than I thought I did.

I still can't believe I'm a father...of two.

Posted by Chris at 7:02 AM | Comments (36)

March 3, 2008

The Tough Questions

Mia, my father-in-law and I were out yesterday evening picking up takeout. We'd stopped at a light and there, directly ahead of us was a cemetery.


Mia: What's that? A playground?
Me: No, that's not a playground.
Mia: Well what is it?
Me: Um.
Mia: Huh? What is it?
Me: It's a cemetery.
Mia: ...

I expected the follow-up. I was waiting for it, the gears in my mind spinning, trying to catch upon the answer that wouldn't lead to any more, tougher questions. I looked at my father-in-law, he looked at me, blank expressions on both our faces. And then it came. The question. Mia asked, "When is my next birthday?"

Both my father-in-law felt as if we'd dodged a bullet, a particularly lethal and speedy one. He later admitted he was just watching to see how I was planning on answering the inevitable question. The one I didn't have to answer. What's a cemetery, daddy? And I realized - sitting there gears turning in my mind looking at the red light and the cemetery beyond it hoping for the light and the topic to change and imploring my mind to come up with a creative answer - that I didn't have an answer.

Hell, I'm the guy who told Mia that bugs I killed were going to live with Jesus. Of course, I didn't have an answer to the Jesus question nor did I want to explain death. And I still don't. I mean, sure, death is a part of life but it's, well, death. To explain it is to admit it happens to you - to everyone. And while I'm not especially sensitive to that myself - I don't stay up nights worrying about my own demise - I am sensitive to Mia's perception of death. Particularly hers, her mother's and mine. Combine this with the fact that Mia is wicked-smart, I somehow don't think that that's where people go to play with Jesus or that's where amazingly carved rocks shoot out of the center of the earth is going to fly.

So once again, I turn to you, oh wise internet. How do you deal with death? And what have you or would you tell your kids? Fail that, what's your best bullshit excuse for the existence of cemeteries?

Posted by Chris at 6:21 AM | Comments (50)

Haiku For Monday #207

Of all of the small
appliances I own the
alarm clock sucks most.

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (4)


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