February 28, 2011

Chick Lit

We were cleaning out the basement this weekend - specifically my music room which somehow became the place for all of our crap we don't know what to do with - in an effort to turn it into something that resembles a home office as opposed to something on Hoarders. While doing so, we moved a lot of books, some of which Mia fell in love with. Her selections were a tad on the eclectic side. Among her favorites? Douglas Coupland's Polaroids From The Dead, Eeyore's Gloomy Little Instruction Book, a Hallmark-issued picture book of mothers and daughters, The Old Man And The Sea by Hemingway and The Communist Manifesto*.

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We sat down and she read me the first page of The Old Man And The Sea which was pretty impressive to hear. But she kept coming back to The Communist Manifesto which she thought was hilarious especially after I told her it was one of the more boring books I've ever been educationally forced to read.

There are lots of times I - and probably most parents - feel like failures, like we've somehow let our kids down. Because parenting is stressful and parents aren't perfect. But seeing Mia walk around with these books, showing off her genuine interest in them, the mysteries they contain, pushing herself to read the words printed inside, made me feel like we'd really gotten something incredibly right.

We rock! Suck it Karl Marx.


* I know that politically motivated asshats will invariably chime in and tell me that I am somehow attempting to indoctrinate my daughter due to my left-leaning political tendencies. I would remind them that socialism (which I am often blamed for supporting) and communism are two very different things and that communism will at one point become a historical curiosity only attractive as a point of study due to its astonishing failure.

Posted by Chris at 6:34 AM | Comments (14)

Haiku for Monday #358

Holy crap. Almost
forgot about the Monday
'ku. That's bad ju-ju.

Posted by Chris at 6:09 AM | Comments (10)

February 25, 2011

The Weeklies #165

The Weekly Most Awesome Site. Selleck Waterfall Sandwich

The Weekly Work Thing. I sat in a two day conference. It was nice, don't get me wrong. It was actually a pretty fun thing to be a part of. But last night I realized that the world doesn't stop simply because I'm out of touch. My email box? Horrendous.

The Weekly Read. China Lake came highly recommended by Stephen King and approximately everyone else. Since I'd already read two of Meg Gardiner's other books, I figured I'd give her first in this series a try. It was meh. I liked it but I think I was expecting quite a bit more. Will I read more in the series? Most definitely. And I hope that I'll find that the first was the weakest.

The Weekly Music. I do not really understand Glee. I've watched it but I didn't think it was all that special. But this week Mia decided she wanted some new music. So we sat down with my computer and surfed iTunes. What made her smile? Glee. I pulled down about 40 songs, loaded up her iPod and mine and discovered that the covers they perform are masterfully done.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. For just a little while it seems as though Gadhafi had somewhat slightly redeemed himself. Now Libya has plunged into the same turmoil that led to the ouster of the Egyptian president and government. And he's blaming Bin Laden and young people who are "taking some sort of pills." Yeah, sure...pills. In no way is this a reaction to a repressive government and batshit crazy leader.

The Weekly Question. Describe your week in four words.

Posted by Chris at 6:45 AM | Comments (31)

February 24, 2011

Bone. To Pick.

I was sitting in a conference all day yesterday - the same conference I'm headed out to in a few minutes - and was watching comments and emails about my entitlement post roll in. There's pretty much nothing worse than seeing messages that demand a response come in without the ability to really do anything about it. I'm all about immediate gratification. So, while I agreed with most of you, there was a small minority I didn't. And here are my thoughts.

I can't honestly say that the government plays no role in the sense of entitlement kids seem to have these days. But based on my personal experience, I have to say that it's pretty much nonexistent. I live an affluent area and I work with teams of professionals who - by requirement - have college degrees (not to mention master's degrees and doctorates) and multiple certifications. These are smart people who have the means or the opportunity to be upwardly mobile members of society. The only government handouts many of them are guilty of taking advantage of are Federal education grants or the G.I. Bill. So it's really hard for me to point to the government as the main reason for that sense of entitlement that I see. It's not the government. It's the parents.

You don't have to look very hard to find examples of entitlement parenting. As a society, we seem comfortable with television babysitting our kids. It's apparently the government's job to regulate the sale of Happy Meals because parents are afraid to tell their kids no. We blame the Marlboro Man for recruiting our kids into the ranks of smokers. We form councils to shield our kids from offensive music. Parents get into fist fights with coaches over playing time. There are hundreds if not thousands of examples. What often gets forgotten is that the primary caregivers hold the ultimate power and responsibility when it comes to a child's life.

Access to social services and healthcare are not, in my mind, optional. Nor are they a source of this wave of entitlement. They are rights that should be available to everyone in this country regardless of race, religion, political preference or means. The United States is the most prosperous country in the world. To have a population of uninsured, hungry, sick and uneducated as large as we do is shameful.

I'm teaching my kids to work hard, to listen, to ask questions, to be grateful for what they have and work to achieve the things they want and, ultimately, to take responsibility for the decisions they make and the actions they need to take. I'm no model parent but I can't help but think if more Generation Y or Z or whatever the hell we're on now did so, we'd have some less entitled kids.

Am I wrong?

Posted by Chris at 6:25 AM | Comments (28)

February 23, 2011

Cactusman, Makin' Copies

What I'm about to say is going to make me sound approximately ninety years old. But I'm going to say it anyway. Kids these days.

The other night while driving back from a small work function in Monkeytown, some colleagues and I were having a discussion about the workforce, specifically junior staff. During the conversation we realized that the younger generation of folks we're dealing with basically comprise two categories - The Rockstars and The Entitled. The Rockstars are open-minded and motivated, not afraid to tackle anything. These are the go-tos, the people you want on your team because they are so damn good at what they do. The Entitled, conversely, are useless. The Entitled emerge from college and because of the degree they've gotten, refuse to make copies or stay late an extra couple of hours to finish a report that has to be pulled together. The Rockstars don't care about these things; they realize that things need to be done and those things might not always be fun or glamorous. The Rockstars ask how can I help? The Entitled ask what's in it for me?

My fear is that The Entitled are slowly becoming the majority.

Back in my day, I walked five miles through snow, ice, locusts, mutant Debbie Gibson clones and hordes of midget zombies to get to work to make copies and do other grunt work that wasn't that much fun but was what I was getting paid to do and helped me figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up and what I never wanted to do again.

We talked about hardassery - whether or not its okay to be a hard ass and set high expectation. (Consensus: yes) And we discussed how over-polite we've all become (when we don't like something that someone's come up with we tell them that they've got a really good start then politely tell them in the least offensive manner possible how we followed their train of thought but would prefer they go in a different direction when all we really want to say is hey, this sucks, try again).

We didn't come to any great conclusions. Have you? Is there a sense of entitlement in the air? Are people afraid of working hard?

Posted by Chris at 6:27 AM | Comments (29)

February 22, 2011

Work Habits

I've mentioned recently that I've been working from home more frequently than I have in the past. The commute is great, I get to see the kids more, and I think I'm more productive. That said, I not extraordinarily disciplined when it comes to my work space or keeping track of what I've got to do.

When we moved into our house, we found that the original owner had built a home office in the basement. It was built from trees right out of the back yard, cut down and sanded, nailed together and installed. And it's nice. It seemed like more than enough space for me at the time. But that was before the three computers, the ginormous printer which only occasionally prints things, four hard drives, a phone, a phone charger, a monitor, and all the crap that goes along with me working from home.

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In the morning when I start working, I pull out a blank sheet of paper and write a list of all the things I have to get done. Or, rather, all the things I remember that I have to get done. This is by no means a comprehensive list nor is it informed by the previous day's list which I invariably cannot find. It is added to throughout the day. Items are circled when completed. Random things make appearances which seemingly mean something only for 24 hours after which their significance is promptly lost leaving me to wonder what the hell I was thinking. Doodles are captured reinforcing the fact that aside from cubes and weird arrows giving birth to other arrows, I cannot draw.

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I'm aware that there are probably more effective ways of working. At least, I would remember that if I ever managed to write it down.

What's your work environment like? How do you keep track of your priorities or the day?

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (19)

February 21, 2011

Darkness On The Edge Of Town

Owen is terrified of precisely everything.

I suspect that if I was to look two and a half years back in the archives I'd find a similar post about Mia. I remember her going through the same phase which started just as she hit three years old. And sure enough as soon as Owen hit the three year mark, the world became a terrifying place.

Last week, the weather broke and spring poked its head out of the cold gloom. Beth took Owen to a playground where Owen saw an ant and freaked the fuck out, demanding to be taken home. Later that night, Owen noticed that his window was cracked allowing some of the warm breeze to blow his curtains around. Again, he freaked out, even waking up in the middle of the night screaming about something coming in his window. We have now reassured him that the window is double-locked, the Force buttons are engaged preventing anything from coming in, and the force-field (the blinds) is pulled down tight as an extra layer of protection. Last night, after engaging the force-field, I showed him just how quickly I could sprint from our room to his (four, for the record).

But daddy, if you don't sleep in my bed, who will keep me safe?

And I tell him that it is my job as his father to keep him safe from the bad stuff, real or imaginary. I tell him that I will be there for him always, at the drop of a hat. That he will always be safe. That he will always be loved. That he should never be afraid. And that works to varying degrees because it is true and I think that a part of him can feel the truth in those words. And yet I've still spent at least part of every night sleeping in his bed.

If all else fails, it's a good thing he fell asleep with his light-saber next to his bed.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (10)

Haiku For Monday #357

I'm thinking it's time
for spring to arrive, like right
now. I need sun, stat.

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (1)

February 18, 2011

Thank You

I just wanted to take a break from The Weeklies to say thanks. While I promise I wasn't at all fishing for compliments or comments - because I do honestly wonder how the universe shifted without my knowledge - I do appreciate your perspective and kind words. Most importantly, thank you for reading.

Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere. I can't promise that I'm going to write a post a day for the rest of my life but I think I can keep it going for a while longer.

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Don't be shocked like Owen. I can't quit you internet.

Posted by Chris at 7:03 AM | Comments (16)

February 17, 2011

Blogging Is So 2009

Over the past six or nine months, I've noticed something interesting and vaguely disappointing - my site traffic is down. I've talked to other bloggers and visited other sites and come to the conclusion that it's not just me. Which is something of a relief. I don't want to discount the visits and comments from the awesome people who stop by all the time, without fail, or give the impression that my self-worth is somehow influenced by the amount of hits I receive. I'm not that shallow. Almost, but not quite. But I do put a substantial amount of time into writing each and every day.

Some days I draft and redraft and scrap entire sections or entire posts, while other days what I want to say comes naturally so I slap something very stream-of-consciousness together. Some days I get cocky and try to write something arty and serious. Other days I just pick a fight to see how many people are listening. And while I try by best not to half-ass my writing, I will totally admit that I've half-assed a lot of the interaction with the folks who are kind enough to stop by and comment every day. And I very rarely reciprocate with a visit.

As it turns out, not as many people are listening as there used to be. I'm curious as to why.

The blogoverse is much more compartmentalized than it was when I started eight years ago. You've got mommyblogs, daddyblogs, workout blogs, book blogs, sex blogs, vegan midget blogs...is the general here is my life blog dead? Or has the 140-character social media revolution made 2500-character blog posts obsolete? Or, finally, has life just gotten more complicated for us all?

I'll admit that I've thought of throwing in the towel. Writing everyday is tough and it takes a discipline I didn't know I had. And I don't necessarily subscribe to the typical blogger mantra of I'd write even if no one was reading. Quite honestly, I value the interaction and the feedback. That said, I look back over the eight years of stuff I've written and I have this narration - sometimes serious, often times insane - of my life that I'm very thankful for. And I've met a lot of astoundingly awesome people along the way.

Some of you are bloggers. All of you are blog readers. What do you think is happening to the blogosphere?

Posted by Chris at 7:08 AM | Comments (92)

February 16, 2011

Retirement

No one in my family can seem to retire.

My dad retired from one industry (banking) then promptly entered a separate career field entirely after which he retired then entered another field followed by his most recent and current career for good measure. My mom retired from teaching special education kids only to take a job working to educate recent political refugees. Beth's mom just retired from teaching last year. She now finds herself teaching again. Her dad has not yet retired. We don't actually expect him to. Our grandparents all worked well into their sixties and seventies.

I, for one, am ready to buck the family trend, to plow a new path - I'm ready to retire, oh, next Tuesday. The operative word there is ready. I'm not at all prepared. I could quit my job but we'd have to live out our dreams of retirement in an old refrigerator under an overpass. I do take comfort in the fact that at least I don't live in the ten worst states for retirees - Illinois, California, New York, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Nevada.

So I guess I'll keep working here in my retirement-friendly state of Virginia and dream of buying a small tropical island somewhere. I just hope I can swing that before I'm, you know, 90.

(The island thing? You could all totally come. We'd have live music, plenty of sun, stuff for the kids to do and full contact Scrabble. It would be awesome.)

What are your expectations of retirement?

Posted by Chris at 7:20 AM | Comments (23)

February 15, 2011

Brought To You By The Letter V

Beth and I are both low-key Valentine's Day people. We rarely go out. We generally skip the sappy cards and chocolates. I usually buy Beth flowers but that's about the extent of it. But this year, well, I celebrated in an entirely different way. This year, I dropped my pants for another woman and let her touch my junk.

I should have prefaced all of this by telling you that I had my initial vasectomy consultation yesterday. Nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like future sterility.

The appointment was fine. I'm not at all doubting the decision or the need nor do I have any reason to doubt they'll take loving care of my balls and treat them as if they were their own. But it's amazing how quickly a little fifteen minute procedure turned into something that involved four or five hours and medicated twilight (which up until now I thought was just the drunken stupor I'd have to be in to see those damn vampire movies). As is usually the case, things are a bit more complicated than they initially seem.

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I realize that I'm the father of two and the slightly more flawed half of a relationship with my wife. And to have those wonderful children, Beth had to endure a lot of discomfort and pain, especially since those two children were surgically removed from her. Getting poked in the nads is pretty much the least I could do to keep up my end of the bargain.

But that doesn't mean I'm thrilled. My scrotum isn't real pleased either.

As for getting felt up by another woman, well, nothing to write home about. Unless you've got a thing for stethoscopes and latex gloves.

Posted by Chris at 7:01 AM | Comments (25)

February 14, 2011

The Force Was With Us

Owen is, by conventional standards, a little young to be as big a Star Wars aficionado as he has turned out to be. We know this because he is infatuated with his Star Wars underwear which was the smallest we could find yet is way too big for him. Not enough junk in the trunk to keep Yoda from sagging. Owen's plans for his own birthday party shifted rapidly over the last couple of months before finally landing on a Star Wars theme last week. Beth and I made it happen. And I think we did pretty well. The surprise hit? Cupcakes.

Fondant, cut out with bell-shaped cookie cutters.
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The icing pen we bought failed me. I was forced to resort to frosting in a ziplock bag. Not perfect, but I clearly had a bunch of little Vaders on my hands.

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And no Darth would dare be seen without licorice whip light sabers.
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Princess Leia came to the party too, complete with sexy Oreo-bun hair.
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Batman Darth was pleased...
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...and so was Owen...
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...and in the end, Darth was no match for The Force.
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Owen was in heaven and so were we. This is the first birthday when he's really comprehended that all this stuff - the people, the presents, the celebration - was for him. And he loved every minute of it. Just as we've loved every minute of him.

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (13)

Haiku For Monday #356

I have a little
candy heart for my morning
coffee. I Want You.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2011

The Weeklies #164

The Weekly Event. Owen turned three! How did that happen?

The Weekly Read. A week ago, I had no idea who Lisa Gardner was but I am a sucker for good book deals. When I stumbled on the e-book version of her latest - Alone - for $1 I couldn't really resist. One buck books are a crap-shoot. They're either a great deal or they're crap - rarely do they fall in the middle ground. Alone was one of the former. It was a fantastic thriller that did a very strange thing: it refused to glorify murder but instead showed just how terrible killing someone - even in the line of duty - would be. Great deal, great book.

The Weekly TV. Have you watched Human Target? Because it's kinda awesome.

The Weekly End Of The Line. The last car to roll off the assembly line with a cassette tape deck was the 2010 Lexus SC 430.

The Weekly Movie. You know what movie sucked? Wanted. I knew within the first 30 seconds that it was going to be an awful movie and it never once came anywhere close to redeeming itself. What two academy award winners - Angeline Jolie and Morgan Freeman - were doing in it is anyone's guess. My guess is cold hard cash.

The Weekly Product That's Half Awesome, Half Stupid. Play-Doh cologne!

The Weekly Schadenfreude. Well there's me. I watched Wanted. And Lindsay who committed grand theft necklace. And...well...sometimes the universe just makes schadenfreude too easy to find.

The Weekly Question. You can choose any wild animal to domesticate. What do you choose and why?

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (12)

February 10, 2011

Three

Exactly three years ago, I wrote this:

Owen Gregory Cactus-Fish arrived at 3:55 the afternoon of February 10th. He was ushered into the world to the strains of You Can't Hurry Love performed by Phil Collins. Ironic since there isn't an artist Beth hates more. Owen weighed in at 9 pounds 3 ounces and is perfectly, wonderfully healthy. Beth is doing well. I am only slightly traumatized.

I have absolutely no idea how it happened but Owen is now three. And I am still slightly traumatized.
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Over the last three years Owen has changed from a tiny, helpless infant into a superhero-loving, Lego-playing, Star Wars-obsessed little buy who tells completely nonsensical jokes and is capable of destroying anything merely by glancing at it. Owen is this little person, full of humor and life and love and I love him for it.

Happy Birthday, Owen. I love you, little dude.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (22)

February 9, 2011

Fruit Punch

I take my kids on dates. Individually. I took Mia out on Sunday - we went to lunch, did some shopping, and she helped me run a few errands. It was nice. Owen was infuriated that I did something without him. I smoothed it over by a boy outing on Sunday. His chosen destination was the mall. We hit the food court for lunch. He chose Chinese and chocolate milk while I went with pizza. When faced with the seventy billion choices of things to drink, a shiny glowing-red bottle spoke to me. Chris - you want me in your tummy. No, over here. The bottle of really crappy fruit punch. I debated long and hard. I scoured my choices looking for something without high fructose corn syrup but came up empty. So I went with the fruit punch because I enjoy a good crappy fruit punch and I am weak. It tasted like shit.

Later that day - maybe it was one of the crappier ads buried late in the Superbowl coverage - I saw a spot for Americans Against Food Taxes. The issue is new but the argument is old-school. Like, Revolutionary War old-school. We can make our own choices so don't try to modify our behavior through taxes. The I'm An American Dammit So Don't Tell Me What To Do part of me kicked in and immediately agreed with them. Why should the government tell me what I should and shouldn't eat?

Then I chilled out, noodled it through and changed my mind. Kinda.

We - each of us - pay a dickload* every year for the health problems of others. I realize that I'm doing pretty well, relatively speaking, so there's a certain portion of that cost I'm willing to absorb because I think it's the right thing to do. (I still can't believe we live in a country in which millions of people live without proper health coverage with a congress that seems hell-bent on doing anything they can to dismantle those people's best chance at reform but that's another post entirely.) But at some point we have to stop collectively paying for the crappy choices other people make. There's precedent. We've taxed the hell out of cigarettes for decades. Alcohol too. And there's growing support to legalize some drugs then tax the hell out of them. Why? Because these things are proven to increase healthcare costs and taxation allows some of those costs to be proactively deferred.

That fruit punch was terrible but I rarely drink anything like it. But there are people who do all day every day. Would a tax realistically reduce that number? Maybe a little. Would people put more thought into the choices they make? Damn straight. I don't really think the government should tell us what to eat. But I do think it has a role in influencing those decisions while also influencing the things that companies produce for our consumption. And I don't think the general public should foot the bill for the healthcare costs that result from those decisions.

What do you think? Is taxing crappy food a good idea or is would it be a case of the government going too far?

* scientific term

Posted by Chris at 7:35 AM | Comments (17)

February 8, 2011

Meat Cookies

It took me a solid half hour to convince Owen that Fig Newtons weren't made of meat. I've never once mistaken figs for meat. Nor have I ever encountered a meat cookie. But he's three so a) his observatory powers are a little odd and b) he's cute and therefore harder to disagree with even over impossible things (don't get him started on gravity...or particle physics). And since he's three the argument played out something like this:

Owen: These cookies are meat.
Me: Nope. No meat in those cookies.
Owen: Yu-huh. There's meat in there.
Me: Sorry. No meat.
Owen: Meat!
Me: No meat.
Owen: Meat!
Me: No meat!

Finally, after doing that little dance for a while, whilst playing Legos and assembling a bad Darth Vader ship, I managed to convince him that the cookies he was feasting upon were a meat-free treat. He could have just been humoring me.

The thing is? Owen likes meat. It became very clear to me on Sunday as we strolled past the closed Chick Fil-A in the mall and he lamented the fact that he would not be able to consume a chicken.

Beth and I are vegetarians. But we're loathe to force our personal choices on others. Including and especially our children. They are free to eat what they want. (Although we do know full well that the fact that we don't eat meat is an influence in and of itself.) I don't want to consume anything with a face. I don't necessarily think an animal should die so I can eat. I don't support the factor farm system (and I think that a society that consumes animals should respect animals and our farm system is pretty much the total opposite of respect) and I'm not convinced that meat is a necessary part of any diet. But that's just me. And my kids are little human beings with their own brains, own emotions and own opinions.

We're very factual in our responses to the inevitable questions about meat. If you're going to eat meat, you should know where it comes from. But we leave the ultimate decision up to them. They're smart little people and they'll do the right thing. For themselves.

I know I'm biased but meat cookies are still a terrible idea.

What traits or habits do you think your parents most influenced?

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (19)

February 7, 2011

Superbomb

I'm not a sports guy. You know this about me but I feel the need to come clean and emphasize once again that I'm not a sports guy. And I could literally not care less about football. There is no degree of measurement one could apply to the amount of thought I give to football. But of course - after saying all of this - I am a lemming and I watched the Superbowl last night.

I watch it every year. Sure, I pay more attention to the commercials - at least in the first half - than I do the actual game. But the hype about the commercials has outshone the game and the commercials themselves. Then there's the half-time show. I'm a glutton for punishment. I can't honestly remember a half-time show that I would even call marginal. Janet Jackson's delivered the most memorable performance in the last twenty years but that's only because it was boobdazzled.

I grew up in Texas. Football Country, U.S.A. Land of Friday Night Lights. A world in which high school football programs were incalculably rich while schools' academic programs were graduating illiterates. Growing up it was hard to be the kid who didn't give a damn about organized sports. As an adult it still feels a little strange. I find myself checking out the sports section of CNN just so I have a go-to throw-away tidbit in a meeting or a witty comeback about the local baseball team if needed (and with our baseball team, you always need a witty comeback).

Every year I expect a lame four hours of television and every year I'm proved correct. Last night was no exception. (Is it me or did the Blackeyed Peas look like a bizarre crew of superhero autotune rejects who got kicked off the set of Tron? And seriously, Sweet Child O'Mine? Slash is awesome but Fergie had no business trying to cover that one.)

Did you watch the game? Were there any stand-out moments for you? Is the whole thing hype or is there some merit to it?

Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (21)

Haiku For Monday #355

Back to back meetings
the whole week. This is gonna
kinda suck a bit.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM

February 4, 2011

The Weeklies #163

The Weekly Word I Can't Believe I Used In A Post Title. Boner

The Weekly Real Affliction. Cold, fever, coughing, achy.

The Weekly Fake Affliction According to Owen. Frozen in carbonite.

The Weekly Read. I've been really, really curious about North Korea lately. I'm not sure why but I finally decided to scratch the itch by picking up Barbara Demick's Nothing To See Here: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. It was an interesting book, primarily an oral history gathered from six defectors. They chronicle their own difficult lives and those of their families while Demick - a frequent traveler to North Korea herself - puts all these stories in the proper historical context. I'll admit that I was after something more sensationalistic - North Korean dictators building robot versions of themselves and plotting to blow up the world with nuclear blimps - but the reality of North Korea is much more sober. It's just an extremely anachronistic, poor country with a dictatorial leadership unable to see their peoples' needs through their cult of personality.

The Weekly Tedium. I have to write my annual performance self-appraisal at work. I get to use awesome words and phrases like leveraged, utilized the full spectrum, robust and capability offering. Yay!

The Weekly Worst Vacation Spot. Egypt.

The Weekly Movie. I loved Dennis Lehane's book Shutter Island. It was wonderfully written and oh-so-creepy. It's a shame that the movie sucked so hard. Really. Even in spite of the fact that Martin Scorsese directed it, they added in so much stuff that was so superfluous to the original story that it turned into a great big mess that tried to hard to twist and turn. Read the book. It was much better.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. I don't want to pick on anyone this week. I don't want to pick on Lindsay Lohan for stealing jewelry after getting out of rehab. I don't want to pick on Britney for using a body double in her new video because she apparently couldn't dance worth a damn. I don't want to pick on the beer-bonging Teen Moms. And I especially don't want to pick on Charlie Sheen and his latest coke-fueled house party that landed him in rehab. Nope, not picking on anyone this week.

The Weekly Question. Is the economy getting better?

Posted by Chris at 7:27 AM | Comments (9)

February 3, 2011

Calories and Boners

Since the first of the year, my hot wife has exercised every day - twice a day - dramatically adjusted her eating habits and stopped drinking anything fun (unless water counts as fun and I think we can all agree that it doesn't). By her count, she's lost a pretty decent amount of weight (not that she had a lot - or any - to lose) and looks awesome (not that she didn't before). Doubleplushott. Her motivation is awesome to watch. And it makes me feel like a big fat unmotivated slob.

I have a vast untapped reserve of will power that only occasionally finds its way to the surface and is often misplaced. I quit smoking - twice - cold turkey. I have a pretty intense work ethic. But I'll also do stuff like forget to floss for a month or join a gym that I visit precisely twice. I guess my priorities are a little skewed.

I think I'm in okay shape. I can run a mile or two without buying the farm. I proved the other night that I could do pushups with both kids on my back. Sure, it was only one pushup but that's pretty good, right? I drastically turned my eating habits around - I've cut out almost all sugar except for a strategically placed daily treat. That was kind of like giving my first born to the gypsies but I feel better. No meat, no soda, no HFCS. But also? No exercise.

Amazingly, I weigh exactly what I weighed my senior year in high school. This is a fact that shocks my shrink when I go check in with him a couple times a year. Each session begins with me getting on a scale and him quizzing me about my ability to get a hard on. It's an odd sort of greeting but I know he just wants to know how my body is dealing with the meds I'm on.

I know one thing - I've got a hot wife and that's pretty awesome.

Posted by Chris at 6:58 AM | Comments (8)

February 2, 2011

Note To Self

Dear Body -

What in the hell did I do to deserve this? You're falling apart on me.


Yesterday it was my throat. Last night, my nose. Today it's a generalized pain that's spread throughout my entire body and taken root in my joints. And you're hot but not in the good way. So I repeat, what did I ever do to you?

Okay, okay, okay. Maybe I haven't always been as conscientious with you as I should have been. I smoked for a long time. For a while I didn't give you any beer. I'm sure that sucked. But I made up for it by eating a pint of ice cream every night. And I did lots of stupid shit. I distinctly recall road surfing (when you wear cowboy boots, hang out of a car and surf on the road) which was a patently idiotic thing to do. I rode bikes with no helmet. I haven't forgotten about that dance I came up with in seventh grade, the one I was told to stop because it was so explosive that it caused the records to skip on the DJ's two turntables. I also recognize that when you're old enough to have devised such an explosive form of dance in the seventh grade to records - actual, real-life vinyl - you've perhaps earned the right to be a little upset. But get over it. It's been years.

I need three hours. I need to get in my car, drive to an important meeting and get my ass back again before you completely shut down. That's all I'm asking. Three hours. Do that for me and there's a beer, a doughnut, some Advil and sleep in your very near future.

Mine truly,
Chris

Posted by Chris at 6:39 AM | Comments (8)

February 1, 2011

Minor Chord, Major Lift

I'm in the guest room with Mia. Her cold or flu or whatever evil thing it is has gotten the better of her during the dark hours of the night once again. I've convinced her to take medicine - which she does not like - by standing on my head the entire time it takes her to choke it down. She did so tentatively so my feet feel icy, I'm dizzy and moderately convinced that my eyeballs are going to pop out of my head. But she laughed and took her medicine so it was worth it. Dizzy, dazed I scoop her up and take her into the guest room, fold back the sheets and blankets and deposit her while I circle the bed and slip between the clean, cool sheets on the other side. And I notice that she is wide awake. Not surprising after the medicine and head-standing.

I take out my iPad and suggest that we listen to some music. I tell her about this amazing song I heard earlier in the evening, one of her mother's favorite songs and one of mine. So we listen to Jake Shimabukuro perform his amazing version of Hallelujah. On a ukulele. The ukulele fills the small space between us, filling this little bubble with plucking strings. We're floating on this fat pillow of contentment, smiling at each other. Then the song ends and the music segues into an insanely fantastic version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Mia's eyelids grow heavy. Her eyes open and shut, staying closed a split second longer each time. And by the time the last chord is plucked then fades from our little bubble absorbed by the distant sounds of a snow plow somewhere in our neighborhood and the humidifier running in the corner, Mia is fast asleep. And eventually, so I am, snuggled against my daughter, breathing in, breathing out.

Any way the wind blows...

Posted by Chris at 7:49 AM | Comments (17)


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