November 30, 2009

The Wii, Again (Or, Wiivisited)

Okay, I have something to admit. When I was in high school, I was in a bowling league. You can stop pointing at your screen and laughing. It's true. Every Saturday morning, five of us - my team which I'm sure had a name reflective of our fascination with hair metal - would converge on the local lanes way earlier than you'd expect high school students to do much of anything and we'd play in a surprisingly large league of like-minded ruffians. Afterward, we'd head to the closest McDonald's, smoke, talk about aforementioned hair metal and bitch/gloat about the pathetic/excellent games we'd just played.

[For future reference or to get a better picture of who these people were, I give you my team. Todd, the most type-a personality on the team who probably went on to be a doctor or nuclear physicist. Todd was fascinated with the band Faster Pussycat and had a hot sister. Brad was most likely to become an actual professional bowler what with a couple of perfect 300 games under his belt by the age of 17. Vince, on the other hand, was most likely to become a used car salesman though, at the time, he was arguably the most fun to hang around with. Sean loved stale cigarettes to the point at which he'd get fishing line and a needle and string cigarettes up overnight in his room to get them stale faster. Of the five of us, Sean is most likely to be dead.]

Despite my part-time bowling career and the imagery of geekdom it brings, I still managed to be reasonably popular and get laid in high school.

This is a long way of saying that I think, even twenty years later, I'm a halfway decent bowler well qualified to take on a video-game version and be moderately successful. That is, until my daughter got her hands on the game.

Mia kicked my Wii ass all over the virtual bowling alley this weekend. She went from gutter balls to five strikes in a row in, oh, about twenty minutes. And kept on getting better. And it wasn't like the rest of us were putting up pathetic scores. No, Mia's top score is around 217 and she keeps putting up strong numbers.

Why is this? Why are kids able to master this stuff so fast? I'm beginning to think that all those sci-fi world domination plots based on training kids to fly tiny remote fighter planes armed with nukes isn't so unreal. I mean, okay, the kids would get bored somewhere over the ocean, wander off to find fruit roll-ups and the whole world domination plot would come crashing down in a rain of high-fructose corn syrup but still, it's not out of the realm of possibility. Kids can pick up anything, master most everything, and if they have the right amount of patience, can kick our asses in anything other than hand-to-hand combat. Which, honestly, they'd win there too because who's going to kick-box a kid?

Has a kid ever kicked your ass? Why do you think they can? And do you think we'd stand a chance if they decided to revolt?

And finally, a question posed by Mia last night - does sorry have chocolate ice cream on it?

There - bowling, high school memories, sex and existentialism all in one handy Monday morning post. What more could you want?

(Whatever it is, I don't have it. It's Monday after all.)

Posted by Chris at 6:40 AM | Comments (18)

Haiku For Monday #295

Thanksgiving? Over.
At least those pilgrims never
had to ride a desk.

Posted by Chris at 6:39 AM

November 27, 2009

The Weeklies #110

The Weekly Food. I think I ate my bodyweight in Thanksgivingy things. Including Brussels sprouts. I love Brussels sprouts. To a degree which may be weird and unhealthy. Ooooh, and there was pie. Can't forget about pie.

The Weekly Craft. Last night before Thanksgiving dinner, we made Thankful Trees. Basically you write the things you're thankful for on little leaves and paste them on cardboard trees. It was all Mia's idea. And it was awesome. Everyone made one then we shared out trees with each other. Here were the things I was thankful for: My family (specifically named were Owen, Mia, Beth, my in-laws, nieces, and my parents), my hot wife, the love of a good woman, my job, various cheeses, Chipotle, refrigeration, beer, indoor plumbing, and electricity. Hey, it was what I could come up with at the time.

The Weekly Read. 7th Son: Descent didn't suck. That was something of a surprise since the blurb sounded just like something that would suck badly. But I was curious and I got the book for free so I gave it a shot. Sure, it was a very near-future sci-fi action adventure about clones and world domination but it was smartly written, well-plotted and very compelling. By the end, I was pretty disappointed that it was the first of a trilogy without much resolution.

The Weekly Music. The entire Beatles songbook. Or thereabouts. I was working from home on Tuesday and Beth and the kids had music going. The Beatles. Now, I know lots of you mentioned last week that you just didn't get them and I have to admit that I've never seen the genius. Until now. Hearing some of those songs again - and watching my kids dance to them - made me really appreciate them more.

The Weekly Movie. The last time I saw Mary Poppins, I was maybe 7. I watched it not long ago with Mia. It may well be one of the best, nicest, happiest movies ever made. And how did Dick Van Dyke not win an Oscar for it?

The Weekly Schadenfreude. The Secret Service. Did you see that the Secret Service allowed a couple to slip through their obviously tight perimeter and crash a state dinner at the White House? Someone's going to be home for the holidays...as in, fired.

The Weekly Not-So-Hypothetical. So, it's Black Friday. Are you going shopping?

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (21)

November 25, 2009

Thanks

The past two weeks have been busy. Very busy. I was stuck in traffic last Friday morning, heading to work after staying at work the previous night until 11:30. I'd had very little sleep and was doing my best to brace myself for the day to come. And then a story came on the radio.

From the moment the story started, I saw where it was heading. Despite the fact that I knew it was going to be so very heartbreaking, I couldn't help but listen. It was like seeing a train approach a pickup truck stalled on the tracks. You knew it was going to hit and you sincerely didn't want to watch but you couldn't help it. And so I listened.

The story, to paraphrase (you can read or listen to the story here): Nine year old Brian Korbon told his parents he wouldn't make it to ten. He didn't want a birthday party (but then agreed to one). His parents found him pulling a wagon loaded with toys. He told them he was going on his trip. He put a sign on his door which read Brian's on a trip. Don't worry about me. Then, after his party, Brian went and played in his little league game. Then died.

After I heard it - even though I had known where it was headed from word one - I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach as a tear escaped from behind my sunglasses. And then, immediately after, I felt thankful. Incredibly sorry for the Korbon family. But thankful for my life. Thankful that I have such a wonderful, loving family that I so desperately miss when I'm away from them even for an eight or ten hour work day. Thankful for two wonderful children, a lovely, brilliant wife. Thankful for a job that allows me to provide for them. And thankful for an extended family that continues to watch over us even though we're not children anymore as evidenced by the children of our own. Thankful that we live in a country that, despite some flaws, is a land which is free and prosperous. Thankful that I can type these words without fear of reprisal. Thankful for you out there reading.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy your children, your husbands, your wives, your significant others. And enjoy your life.

What are you thankful for?

Posted by Chris at 8:10 AM | Comments (20)

November 24, 2009

Point, And Shoot


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My daughter is fascinated with photography. She has a camera - an old, beat-up Sony digital point-and-shoot that I seem to have permanently loaned to her a year or so ago under the so-far-proven assumption that it's indestructible. She doesn't use it constantly but when she gets on a photo kick, it lasts for hours and she'll take pictures of absolutely everything. Now, she has a hard time with the mechanics of the little camera. She can't decide if she should look through the view-finder or at the screen. The power and shutter buttons are often confused. And her finger invariably ends up in front of the lens in half the pictures. But when she puts all of the pieces together, she takes a pretty decent photo. Or at least an interesting photo.

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I love her pictures. I love pulling them off of the camera and looking at them. They're her photos but most importantly they're a reminder of how she sees the world. I can't really remember being four but her pictures are a nice reminder to me of how huge the world must seem.

What were you most fascinated with when you were a kid? And did that have any bearing on what you would become?

Posted by Chris at 7:31 AM | Comments (17)

November 23, 2009

Wiiiiiiii!

My wife bought a Wii. My wife who is normally anti-video game and claims to be totally uncoordinated when it comes to anything of the sort. Bought a Wii.

Let's take a step back.

On Friday night, she went to a Wii party. She had fun. And as parting gifts the attendees were each given Wii Fits - you know, the board thingy that you stand on and do stuff like cross country ski and skateboarding. Not having a Wii, the Wii Fit was somewhat useless. So on Saturday she walked through the back door, having returned from running errands, with a Wii. While I was putting Owen to bed, she hooked it up. We played the damn thing the rest of the night.

Who is this lady and what has she done with my wife? Admittedly, they have the same great ass and this one likes video games so I'm only prepared to argue so much.

The rest of the weekend was very good but very busy. I worked a bit on both Saturday and Sunday. Damn Slightly Major Work Thing. We visited my parents and played a full forest-encompassing hybrid of hide and seek and tag. On Sunday, Beth and I got slightly dressed up, headed to Monkeytown, had a nice dinner and saw Jersey Boys (I was skeptical going in but it was awesome). And as you can expect, there was a lot of Wii. And you know, it kinda rocks. And hurts. I did the hula hoop thing one too many times and my ass is killing me. Mia and I played a nearly endless series of bowling matches together which was a hell of a lot of fun (and Mia is actually great) and I bit it ski jumping quite a lot (the agony of defeat).

So what did you do with your weekends? And are you video game people?

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (41)

Haiku For Monday #294

It's Monday but at
least it's a short week. And I'm
not a turkey. Good.

Posted by Chris at 7:04 AM | Comments (1)

November 20, 2009

The Weeklies #109

The Weekly Time Waster. The World's Hardest Game. Hey, I didn't call it that. Go find out for yourself.

The Weekly Activity. Working. A lot.

The Weekly iPhone App. Convert (iTunes link). I'm incredibly challenged when it comes to converting stuff. Probably because I'm no good with numbers. Currency, weights, measures...I just can't do it. Convert is an awesome app. And I finally know what British folks when they weigh stuff in stones. Always wondered about that.

The Weekly Music. I'm going retro and obscure this week. Mad Season. There's absolutely no reason to think you've heard of them. They released one album then never recorded again. But they did have some pretty impressive members, namely Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, late Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley and Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin. Their only album - Above - is one of the great unknown albums of the Seattle grunge period. It was probably overlooked, though, because it bore no resemblance to grunge. Instead, it's quiet, meditative in parts and bluesy, straightforward rock with a 70s feel in others. It's sparse, haunting, odd, relatively uneven but also very beautiful. McCready would go on to continue his guitar god status in Pearl Jam. Barrett Martin would go on to play with REM and begin releasing truly impressive jazz albums. And Layne Staley would record one more Alice In Chains album before overdosing. And if you listen hard enough, you can foresee each of these things in this one impressive album.

The Weekly Read. I love Nick Hornby. High Fidelity and About A Boy were triumphant and two of my favorite novels. But his last few novels, while great, just haven't grabbed me the way some of his earlier novels did. So I was thrilled when I heard that Juliet, Naked was a return to form. And it is. Juliet, Naked is the story of a 40-something fan-boy, an unhappy English woman, and a reclusive former rock musician now leading the life of a suburban dad. The way the story plays out isn't surprising and Hornby doesn't go out of his way to get a laugh. In short, it's an understated but nice story. Not Hornby's best but one that shows a maturing author who's still at the top of his game.

The Weekly Shoes. I'm not a hippie. I don't like hippie shoes. Like Birkenstocks. I've actually actively made quite a bit of fun over them over the years. But then the kind folks at Birkenstock sent me some shoes. And, well, they're comfortable. Like, really comfortable. So I'm kinda coming around on hippie shoes.

The Weekly Cringe-Worthy Holiday Television. Have you ever seen the Star Wars Christmas Special? It's terrible in a very awesome, Death Star please shoot my eyes out way.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Me. I've chalked up a billion hour week this week, thus bending the laws of space and time. And I'm a little tired. Oh, and also all Virginians to include me because of this winner from CNN: Virginia Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell on Wednesday would not disavow Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson’s recent claim that Islam is not a religion, but “a violent political system.” McDonnell, though, stressed that he reached out to Muslims and visited mosques in Virginia throughout the governor’s race and will continue to do so when he takes office in January." Gah. Get me some boxes. I have to move.

The Weekly Hypothetical. What do you think would be the number one advantage of being the opposite sex?


Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (37)

November 19, 2009

The Great Moral Quandary

I have a Great Moral Quandary. No, I'm not trying to figure out my feelings on the gay marriage debate in DC or working out my stance on the execution of the DC sniper last week. I'm not spinning my mental wheels trying to arrive at a perfect way to balance trade between the US and China nor am I attempting to decide whether or not to read Sarah Palin's new book (though the bit I caught which included the sentence "members of the national press continued to hang out in Alaska sniffing for tabloid stuff" led me to believe it's a masterfully written piece of prose on par with the works of Fitzgerald and Hemingway). No. I'm trying to decide where I come down on the whole peeing-in-the-shower debate.

I'm a guy. I'll pretty much pee on anything. God gave me the ability to pee standing up and I'll be damned if I'm not going to use it. I'll pee out a campfire. And maybe even take aim at the small woodland creatures who have gathered around it to stay warm. I will pee out California wildfires from helicopters flying overhead. Snow is a blank canvas. Visiting heads of state are prime targets. That's just the ways guys think. That's how we roll.

Until several years ago, I peed in the shower all willy-nilly. I mean, there was porcelain and a drain. How much more explicit an invitation did I need? But then I started thinking you know, self, you're not the only one who uses the shower and your hot wife might not think this is so, um, hot. So I stopped. Cold turkey. It was tough. Occasionally, I'd feel a small tug, the Little General aimed just right, the drain saying pssst, come on...you know you want to. But I resisted. And now I'm wondering why.

Where do you come down on the whole shower pee argument?

Posted by Chris at 6:43 AM | Comments (55)

November 18, 2009

Media Whores, Politicians...and Goats

Late last week I got an email from Mary Jones. If you don't know who Mary Jones is, I certainly can't help you because I have no clue who the woman is either. But I opened it because of the subject line - Pelosi healthcare bill - what the mainstream media is not telling. And, well, I half expected to find, instead, horny Ukrainian temptresses blowing goats or man-on-man fisting action. And who doesn't love gay fisting over coffee in the morning? I was surprised when a) there was no goat-blowing, porn of any kind or text that began I am a pretty inosent girrl from Indonezia looking for mail companionship and b) after reading the terrifyingly worded text, the back up information provided was actually pretty compelling. Here's what the text of the email said.

Please read this: One of the many things a lot of people don't know is that if this bill is passed, you will not be able to opt out of healthcare or make your own choices. Failure to obtain what is deemed by the government as "acceptable" coverage will result in steep fines and jail time. Freedom of choice will be a thing of the past. Where in the Constitution does it say the government can either force you to enter into a contract or prevent you from entering into a legal contract?

Think about it...this has never happened before.

A few things are clear. Mary Jones will never score a book deal for her devastatingly beautiful prose. She'd have been better off writing "We're fucked. Here's a link describing the fucking!" Mary Jones also subscribes to the point of view that the mainstream media is run by some liberal cabal.

I've talked about the media a lot in the past. And through writing out my thoughts and listening to your feedback, I've come to the conclusion that the media isn't out to change our minds politically or brainwash us into some Orwellian fog of compliance. I think there are definitely some outlets that are more biased than others. Fox leans to the right. We know this. MSNBC leans just as strongly the opposite way. We know this too. CNN just leans which ever way Larry King's suspenders pull it. So, fine, some have an agenda but I'm not cynical enough to think that the mainstream media is actually trying to brainwash us or change our minds. No, they're just out to make a buck. And they'll pretty much whore themselves to the highest bidder for the almighty dollar.

Of course politicians are the same way. And it's the politicians who've come up with the most recent set of healthcare reform bills being shouted about now.

As to the validity of the claims in the email - the health-focused ones - I'm not an expert nor have I spent a hell of a lot of my bountiful free time reading proposed federal legislation. That's about as much fun as blowing a goat (so I'd assume). I will say that other types of insurance are mandatory. You have to have insurance before you get behind the wheel of a car or jump on a motorcycle. You can't operate a bank without insurance. You can't operate on someone without insurance. So, should you be able to exist in this country without insurance? Sure. Because it seems slightly creepy for the government to mandate such a thing. But if you've made the decision to be uninsured, in no way should I be forced to pay a penny of your medical bills or increased insurance or provider costs.

Mia's recent trip to the hospital taught me something. The system isn't hopelessly broken. Yes, it needs to be better. And yes it needs to stop ignore the ones who need the system the most. But Mia had excellent people making her well in a world-class facility. She emerged healthy with an arm-load of prescriptions. And we paid $150.

What say you? Does the media have an agenda or are they just whores? And should there be an insurance requirement?

Posted by Chris at 6:58 AM | Comments (24)

November 17, 2009

God Gave Rock and Roll To You

Last night, Beth, Mia, Owen and I were learning some hand gestures over dinner. You know, saying okay or I love you with your hands. I tried to teach them to do the Village People YMCA thing but that didn't catch on all that well. Then I broke out the rock out hands. You know, the devil horns. Which caught on quite wonderfully.

Beth got a little over-enthusiastic in her rocking out (as she often does) and began to sing Kiss songs. (Which surprised me because, while I knew she knew who Kiss was, I thought the extent of her Kiss knowledge was something along the lines of the make-up guys). Like the devil horns, this was a popular dinner development. So much so that Mia enthusiastically sang right along with Beth. Though, her lyrics were slightly, well, different.

I wanna rock and roll all night
and party every day.
With balloons and cake
and even some donuts and definitely a card.
Presents are nice
and so are sprinkles.

I've never really been a Kiss fan. So I like Mia's version much, much better. But I can totally see Gene Simmonds belting that out.

What's your most-used hand gesture? Oh, and while we're at it, what's your least favorite band that everyone else seems to love? Mine? Kiss.

Posted by Chris at 6:31 AM | Comments (35)

November 16, 2009

Birthday Weekend Recap

This weekend was a special one, mainly because it was Beth's birthday. I won't tell you which one, not that I think she cares.

On Friday night, Mia and I baked a birthday cake. According to Mia, it had to be chocolate, with chocolate frosting. So that's what we did. Though, we kicked it up a couple of notches. To include day-glo pink icing and, of course, pink M&Ms. Two shades of pink M&Ms, to be precise.

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Beth got to sleep in a little on Saturday. Meanwhile, the kids and I got her presents wrapped and chilled out with some Scooby Doo (something we wouldn't subject Beth to on her birthday since she loathes Scooby). Then Mia and I cooked Beth a nice breakfast - French toast. Naturally, I spoke with a French accent the entire time. Then I decided to cut Owen's hair. Not too bad for my first time. Sure, there are a few bald spots but he's uber-blond and it'll grow back. Still, I think it looks okay. Don't you?

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Later, Beth and Mia headed to a party for one of Mia's friends. While they were gone, Owen and I had some guy time. Then I caught sight of a cool leaf out on the deck. I took a picture of it. And Owen locked me out. After five minutes of me pleading and him giggling, he finally unlocked the door. I think it was kinda worth it.

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Once Beth and Mia came home, Beth and I jetted out for a night out. We ate at Founding Farmers in DC which was a nice concept - family farms, all natural food, everything homemade - but the execution wasn't so hot. Then we hit the DC Improv and saw a very un-funny guy open for a pretty strange and relatively funny headliner.

On Sunday, I worked. I know, sucky, right? Early last week I got handed a Slightly Large Work Thing which will be occupying my time pretty consistently this week. After I got home, some family came over. Mia got to hang with her cousins. Performances were, uh, performed.

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There was a particularly moving song about dinosaurs.

Whew. I'm beat. And now I've got an 80 hour week ahead of me. So, what did you do? And what's in store for you this week?

Posted by Chris at 6:24 AM | Comments (15)

Haiku For Monday #293

I wish I had a
million dollars. That's just my
simple Monday wish.

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (1)

November 13, 2009

The Weeklies: Special Birthday Edition

Today, it's my pleasure to bring you a Very Special Weeklies. And there's only one category.

The Weekly Birthday. Tomorrow is a special day. Beth's birthday!

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I love you and I wasn't around for one of the happiest days of my life - the day that you came into the world. I mean, I was because I am vastly older (Beth is, of course, my trophy wife) but I was more concerned with Mister Rogers and a collection of dumptrucks than a hot wife. Silly kid priorities. Anyway, thank you for coming into my life. I love you.

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (16)

November 12, 2009

Note To Self

Self,

You know, you're really annoying sometimes. Perhaps I should narrow that down. You attract strange people in bathrooms, choose to scratch your ass at inopportune times, sleep so soundly your wife is left to deal with whining children in the middle of the night and, more importantly, you're a self-doubting asshat. In particular, your gut reaction to anything you have to do that is remotely challenging is to immediately shy away, to downplay your own skills (nunchuk skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills...girls only want boyfriends who have great skills), and to seek a way out of being saddled with whatever uncomfortable, challenging responsibility you're about to be saddled with. And then, after that, you enter a state of denial (not the river in Egypt) and wish that whatever happened that precipitated said responsibility hadn't happened at all. Which isn't helpful. During this, you get a tingly feeling in your face and a sinking feeling in the pit of your soul that makes you feel as if your entire body is being sucked into your bellybutton and you wish you could just disappear. But you don't. Your bellybutton isn't that big or talented.

Inevitably, you pull yourself together and dive in with both feet (though this expression has never made sense to you since one doesn't dive with one's feet unless the meaning of dive has changed dramatically over the last several years), doing whatever it is that needs to be done with a vast flurry of activity yielding positive results. Unfortunately, you sometimes proceed without thinking everything through or waiting for the right pieces to come together. This is another annoyance, but, like your fear of leftovers and your inability to read Thomas Pynchon, will not prevent you from living a full, rich life.

In the end you wonder what you were worried about to begin with because, inevitably, the end results are impressive and the challenge was kind of fun. You leave people with the impression that you're good at what you do (which you rationally know you are but in the back of your mind there's this niggling thought that says pulled one over on them again!). And people want you to do things for them. Things that are challenging, uncomfortable, and make you want to crawl inside your bellybutton. Because life is cyclical like that.

Remember these tendencies. Remember that you're pretty good at what you do. Or you wouldn't still be doing. And for the love of Phil Collins have a little faith in yourself.

Yours in Christ,
Me

P.S. - Don't forget to schedule your car for service. The fact that the radio shoots a CD across the car, turns off, then resets itself to the local Christian radio station whenever you go over a bump can't be a sign of anything good. Someone's going to get hurt...or find Jesus in the backseat. And that's not a euphemism.

Posted by Chris at 6:09 AM | Comments (19)

November 11, 2009

H1H1, Revisited

This isn't the first time I've talked about H1N1. But it is the first time I've reached any sort of conclusions about it.

For weeks Beth and I debated whether or not we'd get in line for the H1N1 vaccine for Mia and Owen. It was, after all, rushed to market. And that rush concerned me. Would it actually prevent them from getting the flu? Would we find out in 20 years that it actually did more harm than good? Autism/vaccine argument aside, I'm really reluctant to pump my kids full of medicines and chemicals unless I'm pretty confident it's going to make them better or prevent them from getting sick.

And then I saw my daughter in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask. That changed everything. She went from relatively low risk to high risk in a matter of minutes. And she might, the pediatricians think, have had H1N1, even in spite of the fact that she tested negative. As it turns out, there's a pretty well-documented path from asthma to pneumonia when H1N1 enters the mix. And there's a very high rate of false negatives.

We've - or, more accurately, Beth - now spent the better part of three weeks trying to track down vaccines for Mia and Owen. It hasn't been easy, and we are two fairly smart, industrious and computer-savvy people. I'm pretty confident that when we find the vaccine, we'll also find Jimmy Hoffa and, perhaps, the Ark of the Covenant. It's that elusive. Our pediatrician who probably has thousands of kids as patients has a whopping 300 doses. Local health clinics are making the first doses available on a lottery system but aren't making any guarantees regarding the availability of follow-up doses.

This isn't a political issue however I have a hunch that the people critical of the draft health care bills coming out of Congress right now are the same who are pointing their fingers at the government crying foul with complaints of being unprepared. There's a certain amount of irony there. And I'd have to agree with them. If the government is going to be a protector of public health, it has to step up. And what we've seen so far is a badly handled rush job which leaves those who are worried about the health of their families with little confidence that anyone is there to help.

I literally have not talked to a single individual in the last month who hasn't been sick during that same period. And maybe 10% of those I've talked with were laid low by H1N1. I haven't heard many horror stories about it. Sure, people are pretty sick but everyone seems to be getting over it just fine. But everyone is in the same boat when it comes to vaccines.

I've asked you guys about your H1N1 thoughts before but now that it's fall and cases are flaring up, I had some questions.

- Do you know anyone who's gotten H1N1?
- Have you gotten the vaccine or will you if and when it's available to you?
- Are you concerned about the vaccine?
- How do you believe the government has handled the H1N1 situation and the vaccine?

Posted by Chris at 6:30 AM | Comments (83)

November 10, 2009

Tiny Dancer

Did you ever see the old Friends episode when Phoebe went running with Rachel and Rachel was mortified because Phoebe ran like an out of control spaz? Her explanation, when pressed by Rachel was pretty awesome. Something to the effect that if you can't run like a crazy five year old, why run at all? Mia taught me a similar lesson yesterday. After a few tries, I finally got the chance to go to Mia's ballet class. And it was awesome.

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These little girls, full of energy, danced with wild abandon. They ran through their positions, plied and curtseyed, danced together, danced separately, stared at themselves incessantly in the mirror and, when given the signal, danced like little tutu-wearing maniacs hell-bent on ballet-fueled world domination. It was truly something to watch. The teacher wasn't uptight, didn't demand perfection or even that everyone stick to the positions. Instead, she encouraged the girls to just have fun. She provided structure with the full realization that these are four year old girls and structure is a pipe dream.

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Kids, at that age, don't care who's watching. They're idea of self-consciousness is limited to am I wearing pants? and sometimes not even that. Their transactions with the world, with life, are all about them, rightly so.
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We should all be so lucky. We should all care as little about what others think as they do. We should all laugh when people laugh at us. We should all dance with wild abandon.

What have you done with wild abandon lately?

Posted by Chris at 6:41 AM | Comments (25)

November 9, 2009

Fall, Risen

I was never a Boy Scout but I was a Webelo for, like, a month and a half and in that short month and a half I learned to be prepared. And I was prepared for the busy weekend since I'd just bought about $100 worth of beer.

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Owen came down with something late last week. Nothing like what Mia had that landed her in the hospital but whatever it was landed him in bed with Beth and I and has, in turn, infected Beth. Owen spent Friday night with me in the guest room while I tried to buy Beth a little sleep. And I really just used the wrong pronoun. Owen didn't sleep with me, he slept on me. I was more of a pillow or a prop than a comforting parent. As I was lying there, under my son, awake, I spent some quality time having flashbacks of the night I spent with Mia in the same room, in the same bed which was followed by her hospital stay. So I spent a lot of time listening to Owen breathe and having a running monologue about the speed and depth of his breaths and contemplating the inevitable hospital visit. In the middle of the night, brains tend to exaggerate. He was fine. I was sleep deprived.

Owen awoke the next morning feeling better. I needed coffee and a chiropractor. We got out of the house, ran some errands. Mia and I made angelfood cake. Then we tried to tackle the enormous pile of leaves that had accumulated in our front yard. Though first we contemplated letting them blow into our neighbors yards but then realized that they probably already thought we were weird and decided not to give them any ammunition for outright hostility towards us. Plus we got to see Mia use the leaf blower which was pretty hilarious and not at all helpful.

On Sunday, we took advantage of the weather and went for a walk in the park.

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I'm not sure why but this is the first weekend it's actually felt like fall. And I'm reminded how much I love fall. I love the leaves (but hate cleaning them up). I love the cool weather (but not the inevitable freezing and ice). I love my bundled-up kids, with their mittened hands and pink cheeks (but not the colds they end up with). I love hot chocolate and, especially mashmallows. I love Thanksgiving (not that I don't wonder how it came around so fast) and I love the warm-up to Christmas (though I have the same feeling about the passage of time).
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What do you love about fall?

Posted by Chris at 7:21 AM | Comments (17)

Haiku For Monday #292

Third Monday in the
last month I'll spend in dentist
chairs. One word - awesome.

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM

November 6, 2009

The Weeklies #108

The Weekly Coffee. Know what surprisingly doesn't suck? Starbuck's new instant coffee, Via. I bought it out of curiosity and was actually pretty impressed. It's not the best coffee ever but it ain't bad.

The Weekly Time Waster. Water Werks.

The Weekly iPhone App. Unblock Me (iTunes link). It's seriously addictive and you will, I guarantee, lose hours of your week trying to solve the puzzles and get to the next level. I'm on level 70 and have yet to get bored. While the app itself is only 99 cents, there's a free version if you want to give it a shot without forking out any cash.

The Weekly Read. A while back, a few of you recommended Josh Bazell's Beat The Reaper. I finally got around to checking it out and damn, why did I wait so long? The book starts off as a gonzo, madcap, funny story about a doctor who may or may not have been a mob hit man (we learn the truth as the story progresses). It's rife with quips and one-liners and footnotes explaining some of the medical terminology which aren't nearly as boring as that might sound. So, for a while I was thinking that I had the book figured out, that this was how it was going to play out for the next three hundred pages. But I was pleasantly wrong. Because, between all the humor, the occasional vulgarity, the bizarre violence, there's a story about the importance of family and ethnic identity that Bazell so subtly weaves. It is a silly story, but it's not just a silly story. There's much more to it than that.

The Weekly Music. I spent the better part of a year raving about Say Anything's debut Say Anything Is A Real Boy because it was brilliant, and raw and exciting and totally original. When their second - In Defense of the Genre - came out, it was a let down though I realize now that maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance. I was cautiously optimistic when their latest, the self-titled Say Anything, hit the streets this Monday. Though we still have a month and change of the year left, I think it's safe to say that the album is one of the best releases of 2009. Say Anything is slightly more polished than their debut, but almost equally raw, emotionally charged, self-conscious and self-deprecating. This band is completely original and unafraid to try anything. Singer Max Bemis pours absolutely everything he has into the lyrics and their delivery. You can literally feel how heartfelt these songs are, how angry at times, how frustrated. Moreover, the album is smart. Bemis and company don't shy away from using big words, describing emotions, throwing in odd beats and pianos and strings, making oddball pop culture references to Dr. Seuss, Bjork and Debra Messing. Say Anything (the band and the album) is so wonderfully unafraid to be original, to be vulnerable, to be angry and sad and honest that you can't help but absolutely adore them. This is what music is - or should be - all about.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. So, let me see if I've got this straight. Carrie Prejean was Miss California 2009 until she became the first runner up in the prestigious Miss USA pageant. That title - such as it is - was eventually taken from her when the inevitable nude photos surfaced. Prejean then sued just about everyone. And the Miss California people counter-sued. To get their boobs back. Or rather, Prejean's boobs. See, the Miss California people had paid for them. Then, this week, everyone walked away with their own money but not each other's when Prejean was confronted by her very own sex tape. Shocker. Didn't see that coming.

The Weekly Hypothetical. The fact that the blueberry muffin I just ate tasted kinda like meat can't be a good thing, right?

Posted by Chris at 6:25 AM | Comments (23)

November 5, 2009

Holidays: Earlier Every Year

Mia: Yay, Christmas is coming!!
Me: Well, soonish. But there's lots of good stuff between now and Christmas.
Mia: Like what?
Me: Like Mommy's birthday and Thanksgiving and Daddy's birthday. Christmas is neat but there are lots of other fun and important days.
Mia: Oh. Yeah.

Now, I don't begrudge my daughter her love of Christmas. I remember, as a kid, loving Christmas with a similar passion, a passion that started sometime around September and went right up through the opening of the presents and subsequent playing. But time goes too fast. I don't want to stop my kids from loving Christmas but slowing them down might not be a bad idea. And jesus whoever comes up with the Christmas marketing campaigns sure isn't helping.

Used to be you'd start seeing Christmas displays and ads right around or just after Thanksgiving. Then November 1st seemed to be the trigger. This year for whatever reason - maybe companies think they have to fight harder for your buck since there are fewer bucks out there - the Christmas competition seemed to get ratcheted up before Halloween. Last week, for instance, a few holidays were all sharing shelf space. It was surreal. In the grocery store, Halloween candy was stacked next to Christmas-themed M&Ms. At the party store, zombie masks and fake severed hands dripping blood were positioned right next to a gigantic stack of candy canes. Ho ho ho, undead season's greetings. Maybe the zombies need something minty fresh after eating brains.

< sarcasm >

Personally, I think it's great. I mean, we are after all in America where you can get a one pound burger, a tub of Coke the size of a small car, a semi-automatic handgun and a blowjob without traveling more than a mile or two and most likely for a very reasonable price (though I wouldn't know about the blowjob since I get those for free). So why shouldn't we have all our holidays all the damn time? Fuck the foreplay, the warm up acts to the major holidays. I want to be able to buy Easter peeps and egg dying kits in July. I want to stock up on pumpkin carving kits, costumes and styrofoam tombstones in January and I damn well better be able to buy a fake Christmas tree and all the trimmings in March. I want President's Day sales in June, Fourth of July fireworks in September and those little hearts with the messages on them, yeah, those would taste better in April. Arbor Day...well...let's just cross Arbor Day off the list because there isn't any good Arbor Day merchandise to spend money on.

< / sarcasm >

I love holidays, especially Christmas. But isn't what makes Christmas and the holiday season special is that it happens over a finite amount of time once a year? Let's go back to blowjobs. Christmas is kinda like that. I mean, if you got blowjobs everyday you'd head home after work all 5:00 and time to get a blowjob then maybe some pizza, yeah pizza would be good, and So You Think You Can Dance is on, ho-hum this predictable life. But if blowjobs are special - which they are - if they don't happen all the time, they become something to look forward to. You'd be, like, blowjob! yippee! damn it's awesome to be alive!

In summary, Christmas should be like blowjobs. Or, we should all just give or receive blowjobs all year around. I think I've lost my train of thought.

Is the holiday season too long? Has the holiday season already started in your neck of the woods?

Posted by Chris at 6:41 AM | Comments (42)

November 4, 2009

Handwriting On The Wall (If By Wall You Mean Internet)

Beth, my lovely and adoring wife, she of the smokin' hot ass, did this the other day and since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (and I have nothing else monstrously creative rattling around my brain that will simultaneously dazzle you and win me a Pulitzer), I figured I'd give it a shot.

It's about my handwriting.

See, I used to have decent handwriting. Now I just fool myself into thinking I do. I tell myself it's all angular and stylish and cool but really, deep in my heart of hearts, I know that I'm the only person who can read it and even that's iffy at best. Here it is. Judge for yourselves.

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Translation for those of you who, like me, can't read what I wrote: This, dear Internet, is my handwriting. It used to be oh so much better but then along came computers and keyboards and I all but stopped writing with pens and paper. Now my scribble looks like the demented scrawlings of a mental patient who forgot to take his meds and, instead, put on his foil cap to better hear "the voices." What's odd is that I usually write in all caps (the voices tell me to). I wonder if all the lowercase letters feel abandoned or will one day rebel. Damn, now my hand's cramping up. I've got the handwriting endurance of Lindsay Lohan when refusing cocaine in an LA club's ladies room. I should just hang it up and go back to the comfort of my keyboard. And leave you to try and decipher my scrawl.

I'm pretty sure I have the handwriting of a madman because, like I mentioned before, I don't get much practice. I don't write any more. I type. For every one word I write I bet I type a thousand. If I'm not typing on a computer I'm trying to make my thumbs do my bidding on my iPhone. And the odds of retaining any skills, no matter how innate, with that amount of practice are pretty damn low.

Now I'm curious about you. What do you think is your ratio of writing to typing? Has your handwriting suffered due to technology?

Posted by Chris at 6:48 AM | Comments (34)

November 3, 2009

Zoinks!

Over the weekend, Owen put his first more-than-three-word sentence together. Don't get me wrong - Owen is a talkative kid. He started astounding us a few months ago with things like:

Owen juice car cup please.
Translation: I want juice in a cup with cars on it please.

Open bar please.
Translation: Please open this granola bar.

Mia chair.
Translation: I want to sit in Mia's chair.

Out, shoes. Shoes! Shoes!
Translation: I want to go outside so get my shoes. Dammit man, get me my fucking shoes.

So we were all anxiously awaiting his first full, easily discernible sentence complete with all appropriate parts of speech in the correct places. And we got it this weekend. But did we get a long-winded soliloquy on the wonder that is a graham cracker or the joy that is being squeezed by his big sister until it looks as though his head may pop off? Were we regaled with an explanation of why dogs - or cats or sheep or cows or, oddly, asparagus - are awesome? No. Not quite. We got this:

Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you?

It's quite possible that Owen has watched just a bit too much Scooby Doo lately. What's worse is the fact that Beth hates Scooby Doo with a passion that burns with the heat of a thousand suns.

Ruh-roh.

Posted by Chris at 6:40 AM | Comments (17)

November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009

There are leaves on the ground, the evenings are cooler, the clocks are set back, the stores are playing Christmas music and the trick-or-treating is over for the year. I guess it's time to admit that it's fall. It all seemed to happen so fast. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Halloween.

With the recent hospital stay, Halloween kinda snuck up on us. So we tried to compensate by preparing and decorating for Halloween on Saturday.

On Saturday, Beth and I carved pumpkins. The kids were into it for the first five minutes but their enthusiasm waned when, on minute six, they realized the pumpkin carving was a) something they couldn't really help with after the seed scooping was done lest they remove digits with the carving tools and b) going to take more like hours than minutes and Snow White's face wasn't just going to magically appear. Beth and I persevered. We ended up with three perfectly carved pumpkins - fall leaves, Scooby Doo and the aforementioned Snow White.

The worst idea of the weekend had to be heading to the local party store for extra Halloween decorations. Why? Because everyone and their brother - and maybe even their cousins, second cousins, long lost relatives and family friends - were there. Mia and I waited in line for 25 minutes in order to pay. Thank god (again) for the iPhone. Once we'd checked out, we headed home, decorated pumpkins, hung the decorations and had dinner. All an excuse to pass time before the main event - trick or treating.

Trick-or-treating itself was hilarious. I mean, of course Mia was into it. I mean, outfits and candy. What could be bad about that? But Owen's reaction was something of an unknown. And he was dubious at first. He approached a house with Mia but at the first sight of someone, he turned tail and bolted. Until he realized these people had candy. For him. That he could take and eventually eat. Then he sprinted from house to house. Mia reprised her role as Ariel complete with a day-glo red wig that eliminated the need to carry flashlights or glow-sticks. And Owen transformed himself into his favorite character, Scooby Doo. Minus the head. He hated the Scooby Doo head. Halloweiner.

On Sunday, Mia and I spent some quality time together. We went shopping, getting some stuff for Beth's upcoming birthday, and went out to lunch. It was great. After getting out of the hospital, Mia was justifiably attached to her mom. She wanted Beth to do everything with her. My only reason for being was to keep Owen busy. I guess that's a predictable reaction to what had to be a pretty traumatic event for her. Rationally, I understand that but I kinda wanted my daddy-loving daughter back. And this weekend I got her. We had a fantastic time, so much so that she made me promise we'd have a date every Sunday.

How were your Halloweens?

Posted by Chris at 6:43 AM | Comments (19)

Haiku For Monday #291

Monday plus dentist
appointment. Hello, insult,
please meet injury.

Posted by Chris at 6:41 AM


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