July 31, 2005

Photographic Memory

For a long time - even before finding out we were going to have Mia - I've been trying to figure out parenthood, specifically fatherhood. I realize I was at a decided disadvantage not actually being a father. But now that I am one, the search goes on.

You see, I have a great relationship with my parents but, like all of us I hope, there are some things I want to improve upon, some things that I hope Mia never thinks about me or things I hope she embraces more than I have with my own parents.

My grandfather - my dad's dad - wasn't a nice guy or a particularly fantastic father. He's still alive but in a vastly different state. He's been suffering from Alzheimer's for the better part of three years. He mellowed over time. He was always wonderful to me. When Beth and I got married, he was ecstatic and treated her like royalty. Of course, he also stressed his desire for us to have a boy and carry on the family name. Not that he wouldn't have loved Mia...

Growing up, my father was pressured to be perfect while his sister was largely ignored. My dad had to be the best in everything. And he really was. But the pressure was immense and I think it caused him a lot of suffering.

In the late 1950's, my grandparents took my dad and his sister on a drive across the country. In the Tetons, outside of Yellowstone in Wyoming, my grandfather took a marvelous picture. You see, if you camp out at the right spot, you can catch the Tetons reflecting in Jackson Lake. On a perfectly still day, with the sun at the right angle, the lake acts as a perfect mirror. The mountains not only stretch up but down in the picture. It's a beautiful sight.

Every year, from the time I was nine until I turned 18, my parents and I would drive to Wyoming for two weeks during the summer. During each of those nine years, my father attempted to duplicate that same shot. Without fail, one or two mornings during the trip each year, he was up before dawn, making sure his camera was loaded and ready to go, making sure the wind seemed right, trying to get the same shot. And he did quite a few times.

As I mentioned, my grandfather wasn't a nice guy. None of them had fond memories of that cross country trip. And while my father largely reconciled with his father many years ago, while he loved him, he still didn't particularly like him. So why did my father strive so hard to duplicate that image, that success of his father? Was it competition? Respect? That's probably something I'll have to ask him. In the mean time, it makes me realize that everything you do as a parent has an impact.

Posted by Chris at 08:27 AM | Comments (20)

July 29, 2005

Mia's First Four Days in Pictures

As promised (and at long last), I've posted pictures!! You can check them out in a nifty slideshow too!

Posted by Chris at 05:43 PM | Comments (67)

Seven Days

Quote of the week: "Peek-a-boo isn't so much fun. At least at this age. This young, its pretty much the boob lady's all in my face with a blanket again.

I finally feel like I'm starting to get a handle on the whole parenting thing. The jaundice is disappearing (yay yellow poop!) and I think that Mia actually likes me. We've read books, taken long walks around the house when she's cranky, watched TV and taken care of mom together. Of course, we're only a week into this whole thing so we'll see what happens.

One thing I knew but is reinforced by this whole experience is this - my wife is an amazing and strong woman. She carried Mia for nine months, endured major surgery to bring her into the world and, after only a week, I know she's going to be a wonderful mother. She puts up with my "Paco the Cabana Boy" routine, making sure the laundry is done, the house is clean and everyone gets fed. She reworks Christmas carols as lullabyes to augment her existing stash of songs she can sing to Mia (which consist, mostly of Simon & Garfunkle and Janis Joplin songs). And she laughs when one of us gets peed on changing a diaper. Mia and I are both pretty lucky. Anyway, to my girls...


Posted by Chris at 10:58 AM | Comments (33)

July 28, 2005

Random Thursday Observations

So, I'm trying to make a concerted effort not to blog only about parenthood and stuff. But that's hard. I mean, that's pretty much 99% of what I've got going right now. The other 1% seems to be reserved for sleep. I wouldn't know. Sleep, oh you are an elusive mistress. Anyway, I did find myself contemplating a few things over the last couple of days.

My daughter might become a big dork. The other night we watched Doctor Who followed by Buffy The Vampire Slayer. And Buffy? Totally inappropriate infant viewing material. Or would be, rather, if she could actually see farther than 10 inches. But don't worry. I've been attempting to expose her to more cultured things as well. That's why we watched The Surreal Life late last night.

Having kids is a defining thing. Being a parent lets you add "parent" to the list of things you are. And it becomes the most important thing on the list. I was in the local drug store picking up some stuff for Mia. Behind me was a guy buying simply a case of Bud and a fly swatter. Now, call me crazy, but I'm so much happier having a child and wife who need me to run home to instead of a roomful of insects and bad beer buzz.

For many years of my life I have been tremendously intrigued by breasts. You know - in the 14 year-old, mondo-ogling kind of way. However, only now in my 32nd year have I realized how complex they are. There's more to breasts than cheap thrills for guys and John Waters' movies. Damn, I have a kid and I go getting all deep and shit.

Not working for two weeks? Rocks.

Posted by Chris at 02:37 PM | Comments (44)

July 27, 2005

Dadhood...So Far




The Internetwebosphere is back! Now, where was I?

Beth, Mia and I arrived at home on Monday afternoon. We were terrified. Who were these people who called themselves nurses letting us - two totally inexperienced parents with no idea what they'd gotten themselves into - taking a living, breathing child home with them? And of course within, oh, about 32 seconds, we were plunged headlong into our first Parental Crisis - jaundice. We're getting everything under control now but its been a tough couple of days.

Can I just tell you how cool this dad thing is? On top of being quite terrifying in parts, of course. I could tell you all about the story we read this afternoon and how, despite the fact that she didn't understand a word, she looked like she was paying attention. I could tell you how completely and utterly thrilled we were when the yellow poop arrived this morning. Yes, believe it or not it is desirable. I could tell you about the discovery that she sneezes twice in rapid succession just like I do. I could tell you how insanely cute she looks when she discovers her own hand in her mouth. But that would get a little boring to you all, I'd imagine. Instead, I'll just say that the dad thing? It's cool. It's clearly brought out a side of me I didn't know existed.

Yes, yes, pictures will be coming soon...

Posted by Chris at 03:22 PM | Comments (69)

Don't Worry...

...our connection to the vast internetwebosphere seems to be down...hopefully, this gets corrected soon. Mia, her mom and I are well. More details as soon as, well, as soon as I can get off a bad dialup connection...

Posted by Chris at 10:12 AM | Comments (21)

July 24, 2005

The Mia Report

First, you rock! The outpouring of love for our little girl and our little family is just amazing. I'm not ashamed to admit that all the love made me cry like a little girl tear up. There's no way I'm going to be able to answer the 297 comments and emails personally over the next couple of days. We've got our hands full. So, to each of you, thank you.

Mom and Mia continue doing well. Last night was better than the night before. If we can just keep heading in that direction, we'll all be in good shape by the time we come home...tomorrow! Yep, we'll be out of the hospital (which is nice because I never realized how little rest you're actually able to get in a hospital) and headed home tomorrow. It seems like I've been living in two separate realities - the one at the hospital where Mia and Beth live and the one here back home, populated by cute baby furniture and cats. It'll be nice to bring the two together at last.

In due time, I'll have the whole story here. In the mean time, know that all is well and your good thoughts and wishes are not only appreciated but very truly and deeply felt.

Oh...I'd like you to know it only took me 8 hours to come up with a totally lame name-pun. Question: What's it called when Mia gets all upset and makes a sad face and her eyebrows come together? Answer: A Mia furrow. Sense of humor? Bad but marginally intact.

Posted by Chris at 12:21 PM | Comments (62)

July 23, 2005

The Bean Has Landed

I'd like to introduce you to the latest member of the family. At 9:52 Friday morning, Amelia (Mia) Morgan Cactus-Fish was brought into the world. She weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and measured 20 1/4 inches long.




Mom coasted through surgery with style and grace and I didn't pass out, so that's something. It was a long day and a very long night but its only now hitting me that I'm a dad. To a lovely, beautiful girl. And husband to a wonderful, stong woman. Both of whom I love.



I'm home to decompress, grab a quick shower and something to eat. Don't worry. I'll be back soon.

Posted by Chris at 11:39 AM | Comments (152)

July 21, 2005

Luck, Vibes and Freaking Out

Tomorrow morning, to some hitherto unknown (by me) degree, life will change. It feels less like I'm at the edge of a cliff looking down, than at the bottom of a cliff looking up, trying to catch a glimpse of some of the footholds I'll eventually have to find. Oh, and have I mentioned that I'm freaking the fuck out so I can pretty much only focus on that whole foothold thing for, like, 4.34 seconds, max.




Tomorrow brings new light for everyone and new life for a few...including my daughter. Wish us luck, send us some good vibes, and don't freak out if you don't hear from us until Saturday. We'll check in soon.

Posted by Chris at 09:30 PM | Comments (110)

Of Priests, Pickles and Ears

I had two really odd conversations yesterday...well, more odd than my usual conversations.

I sent out an email yesterday to the folks I work with letting them know that I was going to be out of the office on parental leave. Trying to be cute, I mentioned that I would "soon be adding 'father' to my job title." My office mate called me on it.

Her: I didn't know you were going to become a priest too.
Me: I'm already a minister.
Her: What?
Me: Yeah, I was ordained on the internet.
Her: Huh. But you know, if you're going to become a priest, you'll have to get a divorce.
Me: I know. But I can't. Because they frown on that too. It's like I'm caught in some great religious catch-22.
Her: You're in a pickle alright.
Me: A big 'ol religious pickle.
Her: Yep.
Me: And there's no bigger pickle than being in a pickle with God.

And then I got a call from my mom, who we all know is a little odd. They have six extremely fluffy cats, one of whom they affectionately call Boo. To preface, I'm ashamed to admit that I found this conversation morbidly hilarious.

Her: You should know that you probably shouldn't let me anywhere near the baby.
Me: Why's that?
Her: Well, this morning I noticed that Boo had a big lump of hair behind his ear so I had to cut part of it out. It looked like it was bothering him.
Me: Okay. So, why shouldn't I let you near the kid.
Her: About 20 minutes ago Boo was playing in the kitchen and I noticed something odd. I think I cut part of his ear off.
Me: You did what? How much?
Her: A good bit right at the top. But he never complained, he's acting fine and there wasn't any blood or anything.
Me: Yeah, you're getting searched for sharp objects before you come anywhere close to the kid.

Posted by Chris at 07:35 AM | Comments (30)

July 20, 2005

On Books: The Catch-up Edition

If you pay attention, you'll know that at the end of each month, I create a long-winded post in which I review all the books I've read. If you're really paying attention, you'll know that I've dropped the ball a few months in a row. So I've got a new strategy - I'm going to review books as I complete them! Novel concept, eh? (No pun intended) In order to do that, I have to catch up. I give you the last two months of books...

The Innocent by Harlan Coben. Coben writes effortlessly readable books. They're thrillers that don't really differentiate themselves from any other thriller except for the likability of their characters and the fact that Coben paints them so well. So, its pretty obvious when he's slacking off as he did with this one. Its just meh.

Here, There and Everywhere by Chris Roberson. I really wish this had lived up to its bizarre, time-traveling potential but in the end, it just felt like an under-developed Dr. Who script (okay, so, I like Dr. Who...I never pretended I wasn't a dork.). It's still a fun book. Just don't expect miracles.

Killing Floor and One Shot by Lee Child. Is there a more kick-ass hero than Child's Jack Reacher? I think not. Killing Floor was Child's first and, luckily, not his last...as evidenced by One Shot, his latest. Both were entertaining and well done. Reading them so close together provides some strong evidence that Child's remained a strong, consistent writer.

Subterranean by James Rollins. Question: What's the dumbest book ever written? Answer: This one. Let's look past the minor detail that this book has essentially been written before (the name is Verne, Jules Verne). Here's the plot - group of explorers heads deep into the bowels of the earth. Bad shit happens. Quite a few of these annoying people die. Sadly, not all of them. I mean, there's a Middle-Eastern character here who, during the course of the narrative, bitches other characters' assumptions that he's a terrorist because of his nationality. And then he blows half of them up.

Plan B by Jonathan Tropper. Look, I'm a sucker for Hornby-esque books like this one. Sure, this is Tropper's first and it suffers a little bit because of it. And like his next two books, reads like it will soon become a Major Motion Picture (which it will). But still, there's something about Tropper and the stories he tells that you can't help but like.

The Amber Room by Steve Berry. A historical thriller in the same vein as The DaVinci Code yet, unlike many books touted as "being in the same vein as The DaVinci Code" it didn't suck. At its core is some interesting history, some of it true. If nothing else, its a decent story, reasonably well-written, that provides some cheap entertainment.

The Poo Bomb by Jeff Vogel. The Poo Bomb is an anti-parenting book parenting book and gets a hearty recommendation from me whether or not you have kids (or are thinking about it). How can you not love a guy who's favorite baby picture depicts his daughter in a roasting pan surrounded by herbs? Before anyone calls social services, no, I am not planning on doing that. Really.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. With this, Foer has delivered a minor miracle of a book. He writes of 9/11 without capitalizing on it, without using it and develops a character that will truly shine among all other created in literature this century. Reading is often a feeling thing that, ironically, words don't to justice to. This is one of those novels. And what I felt was nothing short of incredible.

Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta. Very Canterbury Tales-like in its approach but somewhat lacking in its execution. Picture this - a flight is cancelled and a group of thirteen wary passengers are forced to spend the night in an airport swapping stories. The stories themselves are more urban mythology than anything. And while I usually enjoy things such as this, it seemed largely pointless. The threads tying these stories together were too loose. The author would have been better off releasing this as a collection of short stories and giving up on the gimmick.

The Impossible Bird by Patrick O'Leary. O'Leary's Door Number Three was fantastic, odd and fun. The Impossible Bird was a mess. Okay, maybe not a mess but it had a bizarre plot that wasn't always well executed. Worth reading, because O'Leary's a decent author. But try Door Number Three first.

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Even Hornby at his worst (see How To Be Good) is still excellent. This, his most recent, shows a fantastic return to form while tackling reasonably dark subject matter. Okay, dark. No "reasonably" about it. We're talking suicidal people here. That said, this is funny stuff. Definitely not to be missed.

Resurrection Dreams by Richard Laymon. I do like some horror...even some b-movie grade horror like this. Laymon's final novel, The Island, was fantastic. Since then, however, I have yet to discover one of his books that is even half as good. This one's no exception. Its typical, run-of-the-mill horror. 'Nuff said.

Deception by Denise Mina. Deception is an exceptionally literary mystery. And by that, I mean its not a cheap thriller but something into which a lot of serious effort was channeled. Mina's portrayal of a husband dealing with his wife's conviction for the murder of a serial killer is subtle, plodding and well-done. However, I was ultimately dissappointed that there was never a big TA-DAAA moment. It was much more subtle than that.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. From the very first page, there's a strong parallel between this and Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. There's a reason for that - they're married, a subject that, from the interviews I've read, she's not willing to discuss. But the similarities are astounding. Because of this, its tough to allow the book to stand on its own merits, yet her debut, Man Walks Into A Room, was a fantastic debut novel that I believe I rated as one of my top picks last year. History of Love is good, not as astonishing as her husband's latest effort, but good.

A Certain Chemistry by Mil Millington. Known primarily for his website and his debut, Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, Millington spins a tale of infidelity and fame. Since I've already mentioned Hornby twice, third time's a charm. Millington writes like Hornby on speed. Or maybe Hornby after a few bottles of wine and two packs of cigarettes. Its unclear. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that this book is aggressively funny. It never lets up. And yet, there's something truthful at the core. Its not all laughs.

Unimaginable Zero Summer by Leslie Stella. You're aware of the "chick-lit" phenomenon, right? Welcome to the next big thing - nostalgia-lit. I can't tell you how many books I've read about high school reunions, friends providing interventions for other old friends, people journeying back to their hometowns after many years...you get the picture. Most of them have been quite good. This, however, was not. Actually, it was really lame. Nothing happened. I finished it, closed the book and honestly wondered what the whole point was. I didn't take that as a good sign.

Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman, an editor for Spin took a road trip. In a rental car, he set out west from NYC to visit sites at which many major and minor rock legends died. But that's not what this is really about so if you're not into music, don't worry. It sounds like a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie but this is more a memoir of self-discovery. I liked it. Klosterman's about my age and, while I didn't grow up on a farm or spend any of my formative years in North Dakota, I found I could, to a degree, relate.

Posted by Chris at 07:16 PM | Comments (11)

Switching Gear

Within the next month, I'd like to unleash upon the world the next series of Rude Cactus gear to raise a little money for charity. You can once again pick up the original Zero Tolerance For Asshats gear but for a limited time only, so don't wait! But sitting around waiting for new stuff doesn't sound like fun to me. So, I thought I'd make it interesting...

Here's what I'd like you to do:

1. Come up with a slogan, phrase, or design theme that conveys some aspect of this site. It has to be funny, appealing so lots of people will buy it thereby donating lots of money to charity, and shouldn't be too offensive.

2. Submit your thoughts to me via comment or email.

3. Wait. I'm having a baby. Cut me some slack. I'll choose one eventually.

4. Win free Rude Cactus stuff. Yes, if I choose your idea, you'll win a whole bunch of free Rude Cactus stuff!

There. It's that easy. Now, go be all creative and stuff.

Posted by Chris at 10:46 AM | Comments (17)

July 19, 2005

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

I've been trying to think of a witty way to say this...but I am suffering from a tremendous lack of focus right about now. So, here it is...it is my honor and privilege to tell you that, on Friday morning, The Bean (TM) will be entering this world for what I hope is a long, healthy and happy life.

I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you that I, father of The Bean (TM), am freaking the fuck out. But I have embraced my freakoutitude and wholeheartedly expect to keep freaking the fuck out for, oh, at least the next 18 years. I shall, however, attempt to hold my shit together for a little while longer. But its gonna be close!

And what's new with you?

(...and yes, originally I did misspell the "dinner" in the post's title...like I said...I'm trying to hold my shit together here...)

Posted by Chris at 01:52 PM | Comments (95)

Narcoleptic Micromanagement

So, you hear the one about the narcoleptic manager? No, you wouldn't have. You see, when I was in that training class last week, learning how to manage people "effectively" which I guess means not beating them with staplers anymore or forcing them to shine my shoes twice a day with their ties, I started thinking about my biggest managerial pet peeves. My biggest one? Micromanaging. Which brings me to the Tale of the Narcoleptic Micromanager.

When I graduated from college, I had a major career goal - make money. Aside from that, I left my options somewhat open. I ended up getting a gig at a small non-profit working as its assistant communications director. My boss - who we shall call Sarah - was awesome. For the most part. Sarah was a really high-energy person to put it mildly. And she always had to know what was going on. The whole energy issue was only exacerbated by the fact that she was narcoleptic. Now, I know what you're saying. "Isn't narcolepsy a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness? Don't people with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime? Don't these sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day?" Yes, you'd be correct (thanks WebMD). However, some narcoleptics, like Sarah, also take a wonderdrug that keeps their mental powers acute for stretches as long as 95 days without interruption. For instance, I'd get into the office in the mornings and there would be 10 to 20 emails from Sarah that had come in overnight, spread out over the entire night. And as much as I loved her, that was just micromanaging hell.

One night, a few of us were pushing a publishing deadline and were working overtime. We had a very small office and everyone had their own cubes. If you work in cubes, you realize that everyone has their own, unique typing style. It was around 11:00 in the evening and we were all working furiously. The staccato of Sarah's manic typing echoed throughout the office...until we all heard a very slight thud. We called her name a few times. Nothing. Then four of us headed to her cube...and found her face down on her keyboard, a bizarre pattern of letters and numbers streaming across her monitor. At last, she slept.

Certainly I can't be alone. What are your worst boss stories? Come on...bitch about work. It'll be fun!

Posted by Chris at 07:32 AM | Comments (21)

July 18, 2005

Sombreros and Ball-Cocks

What's to say about Friday? You already know about the Promotion Fiesta! Slightly ironic that we ended up calling for takeout - Chinese takeout - later that evening. You'll be happy to know, however, that we did go out to pick up said takeout wearing the sombreros. People? Just aren't that observant. We only got a few odd glances from fellow drivers.

Saturday was uneventful. Beth went out shopping with her mom while I, well, sat around. Oh, I bought new batteries and a new battery charger for the cameras. (Bet you're happy to know that. See, sometimes its okay if I leave out some of the details, right? I mean, sometimes I'm just terribly boring.) Beth came home with the new Harry Potter novel which I immediately started reading (I'm on page 200-something and its good so far). Then we headed out to our favorite Indian restaurant. (This really was quite the multicultural weekend, wasn't it?) (And I'm quite fond of parenthesis today, aren't I?)

Our friend J and her 2 1/2 year old daugher L were in town on Sunday and came by for a visit. This? Was important. Not only was it nice to see J and L, although husband S was missed, but it provided me with a valuable Kid Interaction Experience. And I didn't totally flub it (I don't think). There were kazoos and lots of fun with pillows and even some experimental cat-petting. All-in-all, it eased my mind a little. I might not totally suck with kids. But, S&J, if I in any way screwed up your kid, I'm really sorry but I don't know what I'm doing. (I don't actually have anything of value to add here, but I'm afraid I slacked on the parenthetical statements in this paragraph.) (I feel better now.)

After all that, I ripped the guts out of two malfunctioning toilets (my ball-cocks had leaky seals - heh) and called it a weekend.

Posted by Chris at 07:34 AM | Comments (27)

Haiku For Monday #88

It's Monday, it's hot.
And I don't mean that in the
Paris Hilton sense.

(Oh, to clarify, I'm referring to the fact that Paris generally says that stuff is "hot" not the relative merits of Paris herself which could be the subject of much debate here in the Internetwebosphere.)

Posted by Chris at 07:01 AM | Comments (6)

July 16, 2005

Ole!

Beth told me a while back that if I got this promotion, we'd have a fiesta. I'm not sure why a fiesta came to mind, but I've got to respect her follow-through.




Check Flickr for more!

Posted by Chris at 10:12 AM | Comments (29)

July 15, 2005

Friday Goodness

Remember that promotion I talked about a while back? I got it. And mere minutes ago, I got offered a head honcho-type job by a client. When it rains, it pours people.

I can't begin to tell you how flattering that offer was. But I'm staying put. As much as I bitch sometimes, doing what I'm doing makes me happy. Strange but true.

This, my friends, is a good Friday. Do the Friday dance...double-time!

Posted by Chris at 12:54 PM | Comments (53)

Friday, And Another Dream

I'm of the mind that the less I talk about dreams, the less likely it is for you to think I'm some sort of psycho-freak. And I've talked about some bizarre dreams lately (Tom Selleck as Tarzan and flying racoons, anyone?). But last night? Well, that one was cool. You see, Dave Gilmour - my favorite guitarist in the world - and I formed a crime fighting team! And he carried around and played my 1968 Fender Strat with him wherever we went. The dream? Kicked. Ass.

It's Friday, I'm done with training for the week and I'm off to work. Happy Friday everyone!

Posted by Chris at 07:11 AM | Comments (16)

July 14, 2005

Not My Favorite Day Ever

Yes, there was training and inappropriate answers during training but, as I was tied up in said training, I had to miss an OB appointment with Beth. In which Beth learned of our daughter's first act of rebellion. Sometime during the last week, she decided to be difficult and turn over. Yep, we have a breechy Bean. Of course, as first time parents, this freaks us out. We've compiled a terribly irrational list of reasons including, but not limited to:

- she hates us
- she heard me respond to Beth's concerns last week that she'd flip with "come on...what's the liklihood she'd flip now?"
- there's something horribly wrong that we're somehow responsible for
- instead of her head being huge, as originally thought, its tiny and doesn't weigh her down enough
- she's afraid we'll be horrible parents so she's decided she just won't come out

And of course the Internetwebosphere (not you but the gen-pop where all the bad stuff goes down) didn't help. No, the Internet is full of horror stories about breech births. Of course, its also full of people doing interesting things with donkeys so its unclear why I thought it should suddenly be a reliable source of information.

The truth is, odds are everything will be just fine. There's a chance she'll flip. Last night I talked to the lower part of the belly in the hopes of coaxing her around. I even offered her an increase in her allowance. She's already great at driving a hard bargain. At least, now, we'll know when she's coming. I'd rather Beth not have to go through the c-section and I know she's scared. But I know it'll be alright.

Oh, and then, to cap things off in stunning fashion, I took the trash out last night and locked myself out of the house...in the dark...while Beth was in the shower...in my PJs.

All-in-all, you can see why I wasn't a big fan of yesterday...

Posted by Chris at 06:57 AM | Comments (50)

July 13, 2005

The Needle...And The Damage Done

Close your eyes and imagine this. Oh, wait...I take that back. You wouldn't be able to read. So visualize, if you will, this little scenario. You're in a training class on effective management. The instructor asks a question and you, since you try and be helpful and insightful, respond in knee-jerk fashion.

Instructor: So, what are some other impediments to job performance we haven't discussed yet today?

You answer with, what you feel, is the most appropriate and astute observation. This is:

a. Lack of motivation due to poor salary and/or benefits.
b. Humdrum work days without the benefit of added challenges.
c. Heroin addiction. What? It's not something we've discussed and I bet it sure has an impact on performance!

Do I need to tell you which one I went with?

Posted by Chris at 05:47 PM | Comments (18)

Flying Racoons and Effective Management

Last night? Not so much a good night for sleep. I distinctly recall Beth working on the plumbing. I could be making that up but I think she was trying to fix the toilet around 4:00 AM. Of course, I'm also the guy who dreamt the other night that Tom Selleck returned to earth from a mission to outer space (and why doesn't anyone say "outer" in conjunction with "space" anymore? Has space grown smaller or closer?), landed in the jungle, became Tarzan and defended the world's population from a) flying monkeys armed with exploding rocks b) racoons that had suddenly sprouted wings c) a really bad storm system. What I'm trying to say is that I'm a less than reliable source when it comes to differentiating dreams from reality at 4:00 in the morning. As I expect we all are.

I won't be around much today. I am headed to a training class. Apparently, after the whole session ends tomorrow afternoon, I'll be a more effective manager. I guess this means I have to stop calling employees "my bitches." I'll miss that.

Posted by Chris at 06:33 AM | Comments (27)

July 12, 2005

Why Do I Worry?

I don't know why. But I do. I'm actually pretty rough on myself in that respect. I put tons of pressure on myself for that presentation this afternoon...that went exceptionally well. After that? My day seemed all rainbows and puppies and stuff.

That's my report from the front today. Oh, that and the fact that my wife is trying to bribe our cat. She's promised him a whole flounder if he stops peeing on stuff. While I think its noble, I'm trying not to disappoint by mentioning the fact that he doesn't undertand English. Or if he does, he's a really tough bargainer with a bitchin' poker face. He didn't budge an inch when she mentioned the flounder.

Posted by Chris at 07:34 PM | Comments (17)

Monday Part Two

Is it me, or does it seem less like a Tuesday and more like Monday Part II: Monday Returns? I can hear the voice-over now...Monday's back and it's pissed. You'll never look at a week the same way again. Okay, okay...perhaps I'm being a little over-dramatic. But I don't want to be here doing what I'm doing today. At least my email seems to have been fixed overnight.

I'm sure I'll be more amusing later. But enough about me. How are you?

Posted by Chris at 08:44 AM | Comments (32)

July 11, 2005

I Can't Get No...

Today, for numerous reasons, has been a bleh day. Its being helped now by a furry little cat who insists on licking my face and headbutting me. I mean, how can that not help? But it's Monday, my email is still broken (if you're not getting any email from me, its because I'm not getting any email from you - they're working on it!), I have a presentation to give tomorrow that no one bothered to tell me about until today, I'm in training (thus unable to do my job) part of the week, I'm sleep deprived mainly because my wife is uber sleep-deprived and I'm totally, 100%, no-doubt-about-it stressed about the impending birth of my daughter. Oh, and no one's told me if I got the promotion I was up for like two weeks ago. I guess I'm Bitch 'N Moan Cactus today.

One thing that's cheering me up this afternoon, though, is my spam. Yes, I said spam. More specifically, the names of my spammers. Randy Quick wants me to play backgammon. Gershwin wants me to buy CDs...musicals perhaps? Audio K. Meant has some software I should, apparently, try out. Seriousness U. Staffed would like me to try some software too but he (she?) prefers I focus on the fine Macromedia line of products. And - this ladies and gentlemen goes into the Spam Name Hall of Fame - I'm getting Windows offers from Peanut E. Thermodynamic. Now, either spammers are going for amusement or people with whacked-out parents and fucked up names grow up to be spammers. There might be a lesson here.

Posted by Chris at 06:27 PM | Comments (13)

Why I'm Quiet

I'm quiet because I seem to be having email issues. I'm not happy about it either. I guess I could actually work. But that would just be silly.

Posted by Chris at 02:28 PM | Comments (3)

Haiku For Monday #87

This week, its your turn.
'Ku in comments, show off mad
Five-seven-five skillz.

Come on, really. It'll be fun. Look, I'll start.

Morning. Spam greets me.
My penis size is fine and
I don't need stock tips.

Posted by Chris at 07:21 AM | Comments (30)

July 09, 2005

Reflections

...just a little weekend photo manipulation...




...go to Flickr for more...

Posted by Chris at 02:58 PM | Comments (31)

July 08, 2005

Not A Post (About Terrorism)

I started this post a while ago and then thought better of it. See, I was going to have to start it off by coming up with this massive disclaimer because I know people don't always agree with me politically and that's fine. And I know that sometimes what I can say can offend people's sensibilities. And that's fine. I'd have said that I really do respect your opinions (because its true). After I'd said all that, though, I'd have launched into a tirade against dolts like Bush and Blair. Except, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have used the word "dolt" - its really not a word in my vocabulary I use all that much. Had I continued with the post, I would have used the word "dumbass" or maybe branched out and said "ignorant fuck" instead.

The whole post, I'd like you to know here and now, was going to be a wildly hilarious yet poignant attack on people, not just ignorant politicians, who overuse phrases to describe defending freedom and making terrorists pay. Shit like that. But then I realized I was angry in a way that I really found depressing. Angry in that really powerful way that makes you want to lash out in some blindingly violent manner but then, you realize, being all hopped up on that anger really has drained you. It all ends up being tempered by the realization that there's not a hell of a lot you can do with that anger. Its a little depressing.

Its the London thing.

It all came about because Im fucking sick of the clichs about bad people and their inability to suppress democracy, bad people and their lack of respect for free will. Had I gone on to actually write that post, I would have riffed on that for a while and said a few witty things in an offhanded, sarcastic way. Then I was going to throw in a line from the speech Bush delivered in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The quote I would have used was this These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong. I would have, at this point, scoffed but in an eloquent sort of way. I would have commented about the wild inaccuracy of that comment given the hindsight of four years. Id have said that we have every right to be a little on edge. Id have said that the country is inordinately weaker than it was four years ago. Id have said that wed solved none of the problems despite having created several diversions over the span of those four years. Four years later and two wars on and this shit is still happening? Way to nip that in the bud, Id have said.

Next, in a stunning display of acuity, I was going to break out my almanac because I love my almanac and start spouting off facts. Every good rant needs facts and figures, Id reckoned. I was going to tell you, for instance, that according to the populations of Great Britain and the United States, yesterdays attack wasnt all that much different in scale from that of September 11th. The United States, Id have explained, lost about one-tenth of one percent of its population that fall day. Yesterday, Great Britain lost around one-half of one percent of its population. Everythings relative.

Then and this, well, this was going to be good I was going to argue, as I have in the past, that we need to take a few moments to understand why people want to do this to us before we start blowing shit up, before we start in with the clichs about victory and terrorism and winning and losing and innocence and guilt and hatred and victimization. The knee-jerk reaction, Id have argued, is indeed to load up the fighters, fire the missiles and send some troops in to serve the freedom-haters their democratically dispatched asses on a silver platter. But Id have countered by saying that not all problems are solved by blowing shit up. Sometimes, Id have said, it just isnt that productive. Sometimes it doesnt really answer the question why? I fully realize that, after Id said such an absurd thing, Id sound like some sort of granola-loving, tie-dye t-shirt wearing pussy. But Id probably be okay with that.

Anyway, if I was going to write a post about that, thats what it would have been like. But I thought better of it.

Posted by Chris at 08:24 AM | Comments (48)

July 07, 2005

There Goes The Neighborhood

There are a few ways in which Beth and I are polar opposites. I guess that's to be expected. To be exactly alike would be, well, really really creepy. Like, Beth's great with money while I practically throw cash at passers-by and give 25% tips at restaurants. I'm extremely passionate about music and Beth, well, Beth really wouldn't care about the differences between The White Stripes and Whitesnake. Similiarly, I'm very aware of my surroundings, the comings and goings of people in my neighborhood, who drives what car, who's home during the day...that kind of stuff. I'm just hyper-aware. Yet Beth? Well, I think Beth would admit that she's pretty much oblivious to things like this. But she's really missing out. We have some interesting neighbors. And I could tell you damn near anything about them...except their names...

Timmy/Phillip. Timmy mows our grass. His name is really Phillip but he looks so tiny and helpless that we refer to him as Timmy. As in Lassie, go find Timmy. He might have fallen in the well again. Its tough to remember to actually call him Phillip to his face. Timmy is approximately one and a half feet tall. The lawnmower is around 12 feet tall. Watching Timmy mow is, to say the least, very interesting. Don't get me wrong - he gets the job done well. He just looks a little helpless in that please sir, might I have more sort of way.

Jillian. As far as I know, and aside from Timmy/Phillip, Jillian is the only neighbor whose name I actually know. In addition to Jillian are The Little Jillians - her eight and twelve year old daughters. Watching the 12 year old is scary. She has an attitude problem which I'm starting to realize is actually normal for a 12 year-old girl. Boy am I in trouble in 12 years. Oh, there's also Guy Jillian's Banging. He stays overnight on occasion and can be seen leaving early Sunday mornings.

The Devout Korean Household. Our next door neighbors are tough nuts to crack. The owner of the house is Devout Korean Lady. Its unclear what she does for a living but she pulls in with an excellent selection of contemporary Christian music blaring every evening. You hear a rocking song about Jesus in our neighborhood, you can bet she's just around the corner. Anti-Social Vet rents the basement from her. She drives a big-ass pickup and can usually be spotted wearing scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck. She's frequently seen smuggling her boyfriend out the basement door in what looks like an attempt to conceal her illicit, sinful affair from Devout Korean Lady. Displaced Lovestruck Arizonian also lives in the house. Sundays are marked by daring public displays of affection during which the red-head makes out with her boyfriend before he has to go back to wherever it is he goes during the week. There seems to be a lot of crying as well.

Howsitgoing Phil. Howsitgoing Phil lives down the street. I've never been 100% convinced that his name is actually Phil. So, when I run into him, I typically refer to him as Howsitgoing. As in Hey, Howsitgoing. Howsitgoing Phil is the most intrepid griller I have ever encountered. Every night the man grills a steak. It could be 10 below zero with two feet of snow on the ground yet Howsitgoing will be decked out in full winter survival gear grilling up a steak. That's dedication.

The Springer Family. If there was ever a family tailor-made for the Jerry Springer Show, this is it. Shouting matches are frequent. High speed car escapes worthy of Steve McQueen are common. As is the launching of throwable objects at said cars while escapes are in progress. There are two Springer children for whom I feel exceptionally sorry. Its not their fault they have miserable parents. Yet, its not boring. Like the time Mrs. Springer threw herself through the front door of their house. Good times. Mrs. Springer isn't a real petite woman and that door when down as if made of tissue paper.

Closet Smoker and The Little Drummer Boy. Closet Smoker is a single mom of two kids. She's only seen smoking at night, outside. Her son, The Little Drummer Boy, got a drum set last year. He practices quite a bit and is getting better as the days roll by. Closet Smoker is occasionally joined by Morbidly Obese Lover, at least, I'm assuming they're knockin' boots behind closed doors. Morbidly Obese Lover seems like a nice guy however it takes him about five minutes to get out of his car...simply because he's so, well, large. I don't mean to sound cruel, but its quite a production.

Scorned Southern Mom. Scorned Southern Mom has three kids. Her ex takes them once every couple of weeks however its clear he's not her favorite person. She doesn't let him come within ten feet of the house - he's forced to stand on the far side of the sidewalk and shout if he wants to speak to her. Whatever he did, he fucked up bad.

Bike Fuck. Ok, so, before we bought the house and were living in our last apartment, there was this dude who drove a monsterous pickup with a 2,954 cylinder engine. It was loud (having a Hemi sounds cool unless you're the person living next to the guy with a Hemi). Anyway, he'd just sit there and idle while his truck sounded like he was leading the Battle of the Bulge. We dubbed him Truck Fuck. Now, there's a guy in our neighborhood who just bought a motorcycle. He starts it and hits the gas over and over and over again. Usually about 10:00 in the evening. So, he shall forever be known as Bike Fuck.

The lesson here? Well, I guess I should start trying to learn names. I mean, I seem to know everything else about these people.

Posted by Chris at 07:52 AM | Comments (53)

July 06, 2005

Open Letter To Hump Day

Dear Hump Day,

Look, I'm not trying to be an ass or pick a fight but, come on! Hump Day should, like its moniker, be fun and chock-full of whimsy. I'm looking around and you know what I'm not seeing a hell of a lot of? Whimsy. I seem, instead, to be experiencing some sort of rift in the space-time continuum. And as much as I love a good continuum, this day seems incredibly, insanely, long. Marathon long. War and Peace long. John Holmes long. It should be, at the very least, 5:00 by now...on Friday. Okay, so, I don't actually have a hell of a lot to do this week. sure, 75% of the office is out on vacation. And no, I haven't actually gotten a work-related email since 11:07 this morning. Still...speed this shit up already!

Thank you,
Chris

Posted by Chris at 02:12 PM | Comments (27)

iMixMaster RC Is In Da House!

Do you have an iTunes account? No? Whatcha waiting for? If you do, you can check out the brand-spankin' new official Rude Cactus Summer '05 iMix. If you like it, you can actually buy it too! How cool is that? If you don't have iTunes and just want to know what's spinnin'...

01. It's Summertime (The Flaming Lips)
02. Set It Off (Audioslave)
03. Half Light (Athlete)
04. Lily Two (Matt Pond PA)
05. Let It Dive (...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead)
06. Rubber Bands (The Fire Theft)
07. Hold You In My Arms (Ray LaMontagne)
08. Spanish Teeth (Robbers on High Street)
09. Walk Into the Sea (Low)
10. Resolve (Foo Fighters)
11. Secret for a Song (Mercury Rev)
12. I Want to Know Your Plans (Say Anything)
13. Anthem (Phantom Planet)
14. Come in Out of the Rain (Engineers)
15. The Scientist (Live) (Aimee Mann)
16. Looking At the World from the Bottom of a Well (Mike Doughty)
17. Silver Girl (Patrick Park)
18. Wonderwall (Ryan Adams)
19. Landed (Strings Version) (Ben Folds)
20. Delicate (Damien Rice)
21. Wake Up Time (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
22. Summer Breeze (Philip Steir Remix) (Seals & Crofts)
23. Ashes (Embrace)
24. All These Things That I've Done (The Killers)
25. End of Love (Clem Snide)
26. We Haven't Turned Around (Gomez)
27. It's Amiable (Benzos)
28. Mirage (Barrett Martin)
29. Brighter Than Sunshine (Aqualung)
30. I Love (Athlete)
31. Fix You (Coldplay)
32. Transatlanticism (Death Cab For Cutie)
33. We're All In This Together (Ben Lee)
34. Lay Down Your Cross (Elbow)
35. What To Do (OK Go)
36. The Past And Pending (The Shins)
37. A Space Boy Dream (Belle & Sebastian)
38. See You on Rooftops (Alt Version) (Neil Halstead)
39. Hide and Seek (Imogen Heap)

Posted by Chris at 07:06 AM | Comments (26)

July 05, 2005

Reason #9,573 Why I'm Worried About My Parenting Skills

I want The Bean to know my voice by the time she comes into this world. Beth's? Well, they hang out together all day. But me? Not so much. So, I've started reading to her in the evenings. Or, rather, I've started reading to Beth's belly...and showing it the pictures.

Over the weekend, I picked up Guess How Much I Love You, crawled into bed with Beth and started reading. If you've never had the pleasure, this is a fine little book all about a daddy rabbit and his baby rabbit. Touching. Meaninful. Tender. Well, not if I have anything to say about it.

See, the key players here are Big Nutbrown Hare (the dad) and Little Nutbrown Hare (the baby bunny). On page two, my crass, inner 12 year-old kicked in. So these happy, cute illustrated characters became Big Brown Nut-hair and Little Brown Nut-hair. See what I did there? I'm going to be a stunning parent. And? I'm so going to hell.

Posted by Chris at 07:22 AM | Comments (52)

July 04, 2005

The Driver, And His Babe




My great uncle Dick, former fighter pilot and current 89 year old sports car driver and his wife, Mary-Louise. Someday I'll have to tell you more about them. It's a remarkable story.

Posted by Chris at 07:29 PM | Comments (8)

...Speaking of Independence

We went to my parents' place yesterday afternoon for a cookout. When Beth and I pulled up, we were a little surprised to see this in the driveway.




Ladies and gentlemen, introducing my great uncle's new fire-engine red sportscar. My 89 year-old great uncle's new fire-engine red sportscar. In his words, "I always wanted a red sportscar and I figured I shouldn't wait too much longer."

Posted by Chris at 10:13 AM | Comments (25)

Haiku For Monday #86

Happy Fourth to all!
Celebrate independence
Then go blow shit up!

Posted by Chris at 07:43 AM | Comments (6)

July 03, 2005

Saturday Summary

Yesterday was a busy one! But most importantly, we had the chance to meet Bad Penguin for lunch! Personally, I think she should change her name to Cool Penguin because she didn't strike me as bad in the least. We had a wonderful time. Hopefully I didn't come off as neurotic and creepy.




Afterwards, we hit the local outlet mall (along with all the other Washington area residents) then braved Babies R Us for some vital baby gear. Then it was home...to chill. The musical highlight of the day has to be Pink Floyd's performance at Live 8. Musical history and absolutely freaking incredible.

Posted by Chris at 08:24 AM | Comments (14)

July 02, 2005

Obligatory Educational Programming

This weekend, at least in this country, is all about fierce independence and self-determination. It's probably no coincidence that, as I headed to the local grocery store early this morning to get breakfast for Beth, I heard an interesting story that very much mirrored those same themes. While the story of four German brothers fleeing the Nazis by becoming the first real inhabitants of the Galapagos seems like it should be a work of fiction, its actually a very true and remarkable story.

You can get more background information from the show's homepage or just listen right here (requires RealAudio). Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax for a while this Saturday morning.

Posted by Chris at 08:12 AM | Comments (5)

July 01, 2005

Okay, So, Four Days

Ever have one of those days that didn't quite work out the way you expected (or hoped) it would? That, my friends, was my Thursday. Some of it was my own fault for being all conscientous and trying to make sure all the stuff at work got closed out as it should. And I had another client freak out on me. So, I handled it...and ended up working most of the day. Oh, and then the Internetwebosphere? It went on an extended vacation only to return at 10:00 last night.

The contractors are back this morning to finish up what they started yesterday. And so far? It looks great. As for checking in at work today? Screw that. I've got more important things to do today...like visiting you guys!

Now, in the spirit of an upbeat, happy Friday, I give you some upbeat, happy tunage.



Ashes by Embrace

Posted by Chris at 07:26 AM | Comments (17)