Thursday, August 28, 2008



They're everywhere.

Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, shoved in every nook and cranny, there they are:


School papers, work papers, news papers, magazines, catalogs, old bills, new bills, junk mail, papers to be signed, papers to be filed, papers to be un-filed, papers to be tossed, er, recycled, papers to be shredded, papers in the "to be dealt with later" pile (compounding my problems)...


I thought I could handle 'em. Get 'em under control. Streamline the process. Thin out the file cabinets, the junk drawers. GIVE US MORE SPACE! But they're like frickin' rabbits, multiplying by the hundreds, the thousands. I shred one (paper, not rabbit), but ten more appear. I roll a heaping recycling container out to the curb, with piles and piles and piles of PAPERS still waiting for their turn in the wings, mocking me! Their numbers stretch to the sky, waving precariously in the wind! THEY'RE FALLING! I have nowhere to run and am consumed by the downward rush of PAPERS! Is there no one who can help me? IS THERE NO ONE TO HEAR MY AGONIZING PLEAS FOR MERCY? OH, FOR THE LOVE OF...

Honey? HONEY!

Hmm? Huh? What the...

Wake were having a nightmare.

I was?

You kept mumbling "papers" and kicking me in the shins. I'm going to have bruises!

Oh. Sorry Hon.

Maybe you oughtta take a break from your reorganization project. You know, fall back and regroup?

But I've got 'em right where I want 'em!

Yeah, right. Go back to sleep. And if you kick me again, you'll be riding the couch! Stupid papers.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Better Side

This is what happens when you spend too much time at Kappy's...

...and your father-in-law comes over early to fix a gaping hole in your shower wall...

...and your precious 7 year-old runs and grabs the digital camera (I'm so proud I could cry).

Yes, that's my big butt in polka dotted boxer shorts.

Yes, those are genuine, bona fide Camp Rock sheets I'm sleeping on.

Yes, I gave Kyra a thorough beat-down-tickle-torture shortly after discovering this picture on the digital camera. Then I gave her a big hug because, like I said, I was just so proud that her first thought after seeing me in this humiliating position was to go grab the camera. I've created a montsa!

And yes, Kailey's room has since received a top-to-bottom cleaning, compliments of my lovely wife.


I didn't think so.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Don't Blame Me

There's a nasty little rumor circulating around our household that I'm directly responsible for some of the girls' unladylike behavior. OK, OK...for ALL of their unladylike behavior. I think that's unfair. Just because I'm the only male in the house doesn't automatically make me a bad influence. That hurts my feelings. What hurts even more is the accusation that I am the one who "taught" my girls how to belch and fart. This needs be cleared up straightaway.

First of all, belching and farting are natural biological functions. The body needs some method to dispose of gaseous deposits within the stomach and intestines, thus, the belch and the fart. Some people choose to deal with the discomfort of those gaseous deposits and hold them in, people like, hmmmm, my wife for instance. Others, like me, choose to be comfortable, releasing those deposits with great regularity. As long as I'm in the comfort of my own home and there's no odoriferous accompaniment, I don't see what the problem is. So what it really comes down to is a matter of preference.

Now to address this business of "teaching". I have never, ever, sat down with either of the girls to discuss the proper form, posture, or technique for the maximization of bodily eruptions. It's not like I stop Kailey after she emits a breathy belch to offer instruction:

"No, no, no...come here. It needs to be crisp. You're limiting yourself by using just your throat. You need to utilize your whole torso. Tilt your head forward slightly and push from the diaphragm. Now try again."

Nor do I pull Kyra aside and whisper in her ear, "OK, watch and learn while I sneak up on Mommy and rip one on her head."

I would never, ever do that, primarily because Diane would kill me. I'm not that stupid.
The girls have mastered this behavior, indeed taking it to the next level, entirely on their own. Kailey taught herself to swallow air and then shake the foundations of the house with her belches. And Kyra prides herself in snuggling up in my lap and wooing me into a false sense of security before unleashing anal fury on my leg. Each eruption is followed by fist pumps and whoops of wild laughter. And they have not learned this from me.

Do I discourage such behavior? No way. In fact, this is better than I ever could have imagined it, much less planned. See, my kids don't listen to me when I try to teach them things. They blow me off. They sigh. Loudly. They roll their eyes like they know everything in the world at the ripe old ages of 7 and 9. So the fact that they have taken enough interest in something to want to perfect it to an art form makes me beam with pride (and snicker). It's just too bad that they can't make a living as body eruption artists.

Or get a date.

My non-plan is complete.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Here's a First

Diane just walked through the door, thoroughly pissed, thankfully for nothing I had done (for a change). Some woman just cut her off...while walking!

Diane was out for her daily walk through the neighborhood, minding her own business, rocking out to a little U2, and owning her side of the sidewalk when she noticed a woman on the opposite sidewalk pushing a double stroller, walking a dog on a leash, and feeding her kids from a Carl's Jr. bag perched on top of the stroller.
All parties involved were heading the same direction, and no other walkers populated the street. At some point the woman decided to cross the road, pretending to be completely oblivious to Diane. She hurried to get in front of Diane, then struggled to get her double stroller over the curb. Diane had to come to a complete stop, right next to her, and wait for her to get all of her crap together. The woman didn't even acknowledge her presence. No apology for cutting in front of her or impeding her progress. Nothing. Diane was livid. It wasn't about being cut off, but the stupidity, insensitivity, and selfishness of this woman.

I just laughed, which is why I get in trouble so much. "If you were in the car, you would've totally honked at this woman," she retorted. She's right, which is why as soon as I finish this post I'm heading over to Ace Hardware and buying my wife an air horn for her walks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buns of Steel

Last week Kailey punched a hole in the wall of our master bathroom shower...with her buttocks. She was messing around trying to get Kyra to laugh when she threw herself back against the wall, and punched through six, four-inch ceramic tiles, leaving a gaping hole in the wall. How a sixty pound little girl can punch a hole in the wall with her bare butt is beyond me, but it happened. The only thing I can think of is that there must have been a little bit of water damage in the wallboard. It didn't help that the builders of the house used conventional wallboard instead of blueboard in the shower, but that's water under the bridge (sorry).

I was at work, of course, when it all went down. I'm always at work when major home repair issues come up, like this time, or this time, oh this was a good one, or even this time. Not that it would make much of a difference if I were home. I would just do what I told Diane to her Dad, the fix-it master of the universe. Of course Diane was bringing up terms like "complete bathroom remodel", but since we're about $10,000 short of a $10,000 remodel, I suggested we look at other options.

My father-in-law came out, looked at the problem, and had us up and running in about three days. The fix was relatively easy. He cut out the old wallboard, checking for any more water damage, patched the hole with new wallboard, then re-grouted our existing tiles back into place...exactly what I would have done. ;)
Thanks, Papa! You da man!

So Diane and I have officially retired from our nightly sponge baths (darn!) and returned to boring ol' showers. Oh, and we're having Kailey's buttocks licensed as a lethal weapon.

Monday, August 18, 2008

If You Want a Job Done Right...

In September we're taking an extended family cruise to the Mexican Riviera as part of "The Year the Battered Ham's Turn 40" extravaganza. I can't wait. I've never been on a cruise, but I've heard that it's not too shabby. Mostly I hear people rave about how great it is, immediately followed by a detailed commentary on how fat they got, immediately followed by something along the lines of "You'll love it." I'm sure I will. These days, anything not involving work falls into the category of "good".

While it's not specifically required, it has been strongly suggested that we secure passports for our trip to make our shoreline excursions more easily accessible. Fine. Diane took the point on this task, rounding up all of our information that she could find and barking orders at me to get my procrastinating butt in line and secure the stuff she couldn't find. We needed one last item before submitting our applications: the passport photo. Diane heard that Walgreen's does them, so yesterday afternoon we set out to put the last piece of the puzzle in place.

Now when I think about the phrase "passport photo", what comes to mind is something along the lines of the "driver's license photo". You go down to the DMV and pick a number. They escort you to a room or a specified area for quality DMV photography, point that big, boxy camera that projects a ring of light onto your nose, instruct you to say "cheese" (or not), and, blam, you're done. You've just taken the worst picture of your life, that is, until you've had your passport photo taken.

We showed up at Walgreen's, and of course, there's nobody in the photo department. A couple minutes later, a gentleman came back to help us. Diane told him we needed passport photos taken, and I swear the man snickered. Behind the counter was an area where I assumed he'd take our picture. It had a little curtain, a few different backgrounds, and a big, honkin' camera-looking thing like they have at the DMV. I was wrong. Instead, he leaned down behind the counter and grabbed the dinkiest digital camera I've ever seen and guided us out into the aisle in the middle of the store, where he pulled down one of those roll up, retractable video screens like the ones you had in your school classroom for movie time. I was mortified. The dude was going to make a public spectacle out of us! Why not just make an announcement? "Attention Walgreen's customers! Blue light special on public humiliation in aisle ten!" I should have put the kibosh on the whole thing right then and there, but I was strangely intrigued, like the time my co-worker asked me if I wanted to see of picture of his brother whose nose was bitten off by a dog. No, I really didn't want to see his maimed brother, but the disturbed and twisted side of me did. I needed to see how this whole thing would play out.

Diane was up first. She nervously stepped in front of the screen while a few shoppers watched (and snickered), and smiled.

"Don't smile," Walgreen's man said.


"Don't smile," he repeated. "They don't want you to smile in passport photos anymore."

Telling someone not to smile is like telling them not to blink, swallow, or laugh in church, which instantly makes you want to blink, swallow, or laugh in church. Diane couldn't do it. She burst out laughing. It took her a few moments to contain herself, after which Walgreen's man took one (1) picture. There must not have been options. Diane stepped out and I stepped in, and Walgreen's man took my one (1) picture. He wrote it up, told us it would be about 20 minutes, and we left to go get dinner.

I returned after dinner to retrieve what I knew were going to be quality pictures. Walgreen's man was not there, thank god. He would've laughed in my face. He was replaced by Walgreen's woman, whom I promptly paid before leaving the store. I took the photos and retreated to the car where I admired Walgreen's man's handiwork. I opened Diane's first and practically peed my pants. It is, hands down, the worst picture she has ever taken in her life. PERIOD. I need to preface this next statement by saying that the following words came straight from Diane's mouth. I did not say these words. I thought them, BUT I DID NOT SAY THEM:

"I look like I'm 250 pounds!"

Then I opened mine, and I think I did pee a little. I looked like I was recovering from a two-week bender. So while I'm laughing my head off in the van, alone, people are walking out of Walgreen's wondering if there's something seriously wrong with me. There was: I just paid $17 for passport photos that there was no way IN HELL we were going to use. I should have gone back inside and raised hell, but I was too humiliated. I just drove home.

So now our backs were against the wall. We wanted to submit our passport applications today to make sure we get our passports before our trip, but we had no usable photos. I jumped into action. The Walgreen's passport photo operation was amateur at best. Hell, I thought, I could do a better job than that guy. So I jumped online and found this website that let's you upload and format your own passport photos for free! You can then either print them yourself, order them through the website for $5.99, or send them to a photo finisher for a small fee. We retook our pictures at home (they're still bad, but infinitely better than what we had), I uploaded them and had Walgreen's print them up for 41¢.

I'm dying to post the pictures for your viewing pleasure, but Diane threatened, in no uncertain terms, to castrate me, then leave me if I did. And there's no way in hell I'm posting my mug shot without hers. They're just best when seen as a pair. If there's anything good that has come out of this whole scenario, it's this: Diane's photo currently resides on our refrigerator as motivation for her nightly walks. After all, she wants to take that 250 pounds off before putting it all back on during the cruise.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Eleventh Hour

I'm in hour eleven of an eighteen hour shift. Yes, you read me correctly, an eighteen hour shift. The reason I'm working an eighteen hour shift is that my station is in the eleventh hour of a major equipment upgrade/station switchover, the leaders of which, in their infinite wisdom, failed to realize that a little training might be required for the operation of said new equipment/new station. Since they pushed up the switchover deadline from the end of the month to Wednesday, they thought it might be prudent to train us on a roomful of new equipment four days before the switch! They notified us about the training, and the new deadline, two days ago. Nothing like a little bit of foresight and planning. So this morning I dragged my butt into work at the crack of dawn to engage in several hours of "training" before I started my "regular" shift. I'm tired. I'm cranky. And I'm not very happy.

I guess last minute training is better than NO training (my lame attempt to be a "glass half-full" kinda guy), but the lack of planning has been stressful and frustrating for the whole department. Fortunately, we have come up with a stress-relief solution we refer to as "Kappy's Therapy", Kappy's being a dive bar a short distance from the station. Every couple of weeks, when the stress level has built up sufficiently, we'll head to Kappy's after the 10 o'clock news, have a couple of drinks, unwind, gripe about the company, and laugh until it hurts. It's been quite therapeutic. Every night can't be a Kappy's night though. I don't want to turn into an alchie bum. Anyway, it's less about the alcohol and more about the camaraderie. It makes the B.S. more tolerable (marginally) knowing that we're all in the same boat and that we can at least get away for a good laugh at the insanity.

So I'm thinking that if Wednesday's switchover is the twelfth hour, hours 13-15, at least, will need to be spent in Kappy's Therapy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Olympic Sidenote

My favorite Olympian name?

Dutch swimmer, Pieter Van Den Hoogenband.

Sure, he's been around for awhile (this is probably his last Olympics), but every time the commentators mention his name, I have to repeat it, saying it over and over (and over), much to Diane's chagrin. I just can't help myself. It's like I have Tourette's syndrome or something. The name is just too lyrical...




He he. Now you have Tourette's syndrome too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nothing Like the Thirst-Quenching Relief Of...

...candy bars?

The girls' Fall Softball League has officially begun, accompanied by the Fall Ball fundraiser: candy bars! But due to their school's "Healthy Snack" policy, they can't sell them at school. That blows. I seem to remember a box of candy bars permanently attached to my arm throughout my junior high/high school days as a penance for being artistic. You never saw a football player hawking candy bars, candles, wrapping paper, or make-it-yourself pizzas. Never. Kailey and Kyra, too young to yet be fazed by the negative stigma attached to fundraisers, bless their hearts, attacked this challenge with true entrepreneurial spirit, setting up a chocolate bar stand in the driveway in the 104° heat.

Unfortunately there's not too much foot traffic down our street at 4:00 pm during the summertime. And despite jumping and screaming at every car that passed by, they couldn't get anyone to stop for a $2 candy bar. I didn't have the heart to tell the girls they were probably scaring people away. If it wasn't for their friends from down the street, bless THEIR hearts, the day would've been a total loss.

I can see what's coming. The girls' enthusiasm will wane after a couple of days, and I'll shell out a hundred bucks for two boxes of overpriced chocolate that I'll then, in turn, guilt my co-workers into buying because I've supported their kids' stupid fundraisers (you know who you are). So don't pretend to be busy when I visit your cubicle/edit bay/control room with the gargantuan box of milk chocolaty chocolate bars under my arm. You're buying.

BIG time.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

What the...?

I haven't been posting very consistently over the past few months, but I still regularly check my Sitemeter stats, which, accordingly, are pathetic. Most of my hits come from a segment of the world's most desperate, balding men seeking the answer to life's most important question: does Nioxin work. And of course they leave this site ultimately unfulfilled.

Today as I checked the daily numbers, I was floored by the Google search that listed my blog as one of the top potential sources of information to the following query:

"music to help you defecate"

I don't know whether to be horrified or honored.

But since I also like to be helpful, let me first ask my bound-up compadre a question: are you looking for music that will relax your bowels or would you rather find something that will scare the sh** out of you? If the goal is the latter, I would suggest any of a variety of death metal bands out there...seriously scary stuff. If that doesn't work, give Clay Aiken a shot (sorry Mom).

If it's relaxation you're going for, might I suggest some smooth jazz, Air Supply (possibly falling in the scary range), Yanni (Hey! What happened to the mustache?), or just plain ol' nature sounds. Hmmm. I wonder...if the sound of running water makes you have to pee, does the sound of...oh never mind.

If none of that works, just take some freakin' Miralax.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Time for a LOTTA Reorganimization


It's true. There, I said it. Think you're better than me? Well, you probably are. At least I'm man enough to admit I've got a problem. And I might even be man enough to fix it.

That's where I'm probably still in denial.

When we bought our house five years ago, it was the perfect size, or so we thought until we moved all of our stuff in. Shortly after we signed all the papers we discovered that we had already outgrown our home. Not really, but it sure felt that way. There simply weren't enough available nooks and crannies to put all our stuff. That's when "The Great Purge" began, and probably about twice a year I engage our home in a never-ending tango of "what stays" and "what goes".

The girls are the biggest problem. If they'd just stop frickin' GROWING, or needing NEW TOYS for Christmas and birthdays, we'd be fine. When they come to me whining about clothes not fitting, I try to convince them that capri "floodwater" pants and belly shirts are "in", but to no avail. So we buy them a whole new wardrobe and stockpile their old clothes until we figure out what to do with them, usually bagging them up and carting them over to Goodwill. We could probably do pretty well with a garage sale, but we're not garage sale people. Too much work. And too many weirdos poking around in your garage. It's just easier to bag it all up and let somebody else deal with it.

Or it was until the good ol' Federal Government began their charitable contribution crackdown last year. It used to be federally acceptable to guesstimate the value of your contributions, but I guess too many people were valuing their broken Mr. Coffee coffeemakers at $1000 a pop. I'm telling you, it only takes a few bad apples to spoil it for everybody. So now they want "documentation". It's not enough to merely write it all've got to have pictures of all the crap you're giving away too! Suddenly the garage sale isn't looking all that bad...

Anyway, I give you all of that backstory simply to say that "The Great Purge of Aught-Eight" has officially begun. Only this will be the Purge of all Purges. As I sat and thought about our home I realized we weren't effectively utilizing our storage space. Man, that sounds anal! But it's true and it's driving me nuts! We have closets where we just threw crap "temporarily" when we first moved in that hasn't been touched in five years. File cabinets overflowed as well as bins of pictures and letters and cards. And then there's the issue of the girls' schoolwork: what do we save and what do we toss? It's a sort of self-damning experience to be judge, jury, and executioner to a 7 year-old's artwork, but we since we only have room for the best tigers (or is that a severely beaten chinchilla?), some of it's gotta go.

On Sunday and Monday (yes, it took me TWO days), I tackled the main file cabinet, shredding six bags of sensitive documents and tossing an equal amount of non-sensitive papers. My poor shredder was smoking! Yesterday, Diane and I teamed up, with Diane taking on hall closets and the kitchen pantry while I prepped and "documented" ten garbage bags of clothes and other miscellaneous household items, all of which were piled up in the garage, for transport to Goodwill (the garage sale will have to wait another year). Phase two will be the girls' closets, which is a lot of fun with the girls whining about us giving away toys they have NEVER played with, the guest room closet (what a frickin' disaster that thing is), and a few various "junk" drawers. There is light at the end of the tunnel! I'm always open for reorganimization tips, so if something has worked well for you, please send it along because I need help.

In more ways than one.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Sedona Getaway

Last week Diane and I enjoyed a little getaway to Sedona as kind of a double anniversary/40th birthday present. If you're ever in Arizona and have a chance to spend a day or two here, you won't be disappointed. Sedona is nestled within the majestic red rocks of Oak Creek Canyon, roughly two hours north of Phoenix on I-17, and there's a little something there for everyone: miles of trails for hikers and bikers, jeep tours of the canyon, hot air balloon tours, and several national parks/monuments within a short driving distance. Sedona is also well known for its artistic community and is filled with shops and galleries displaying a variety of artwork. We went with the low-key vacation, browsing the shops and galleries of Uptown Sedona and Tlaquepaque Village, and eating our way through town. Not a bad way to go!

Now I don't particularly enjoy shopping, but I do find it refreshing to peruse galleries with interesting artwork, and we spent a whole day doing just that. I may have mentioned once or twice (in my only postings in July) that work has been stressful, and viewing good art is a great release for me. Of course what everyone considers "good art" is going to differ, but I wasn't disappointed on this particular trip. One of the highlights for me was stumbling across an extensive display of Salvador Dali etchings...that dude was seriously whacked (and talented)! And my favorite art piece came in at a measly $4000. I need a new career.

Diane and I did pick up a couple of more "affordable" pieces of pottery that are prominently displayed on top of our kitchen cabinets. It was a great trip. Next time we'll probably plan a more kid-friendly adventuresome trip, but for now, it was just what the doctor ordered.


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