Tuesday, August 30


I saw these and immediately thought, finally! There's been a big dry spell with the church marquee's lately. Anyhow, this week I've been blessed with not one, but two. Yea God!

I don't know about you, but I consider
this to be the feel-good message of the year.
Also, what is "steal kill?" It sounds bad.

I don't think that's exactly what they mean.

Thursday, August 18


Darn this new-fangled
telephone machine!
I'm getting old. I don't like it, but it's the truth.  I'm not only exhibiting the physical signs like arthritic knees and gray hair, but I've started to slowly morph into a hybrid version of my parents.  It's especially noticeable when I catch myself thinking that new music sucks or yelling "slow down!" to some young whipper-snapper speeding through my neighborhood. However, it is when I realize that I'm stumped by some new element of technology that I get really nervous.

I can remember cleaning out my grandmother's house and finding what can only be described as an impressive amateur camera collection. You could literally trace the evolution of the mass-produced camera from the mid 1970s to the late 80s. She amassed this collection because every Christmas someone tried in vain to give her the most simple point and shoot on the market. Kodak instant cameras (multiple), a disc camera, and cameras that had to have flash cubes, lay there virtually untouched by time or Margaret. Photography wasn't her only challenge. I'm not even going to talk about when she finally got cable or the debacle that was call-waiting. 

Don't get me wrong, I am not immune to my own technology FAILs, but it's usually when I'm forced into the server room at my office to do something that is way over my head to begin with (I would like to apologize to Parks and Rec one more time for breaking their security camera system). When it comes to computers though I just tell people to reboot because 60% of the time it works all the time. 

I'm not saying that I've gotten to the point where my junk drawer is filled with the technology of yesteryear, but the other day I did have to Google "how to ignore a call on an iPhone." Some of the smarty features of my smarty phone are just too Big Brother for me. Stuff like how my phone knows my location at all times. How am I supposed to go off the grid and check facebook? It reminds me of this Sci-Fi book I once read about a guy who had a computer chip implanted in his wrist that let him do everything automatically. I hated the book, but I think about it a lot when Fandango sends me updates about movies playing down the street. The only thing that makes the book totally implausible was that the hero was always zipping and zooming around on roller blades. 'Nuff said.

If it's weird now, what's is it going to be like for Piper and Tanner? Will they just have to think about a website and it will pop up like some Minority Report-y hologram? Even now, Piper can navigate her way to a Barbie dress up game before I even have the chance to answer the question "can I get on the computer?" I will admit that Barbie is way better than time I accidentally introduced her to Bebe Lilly. I got to listen to a computer generated baby sing computer generated French Techo. You know you're in trouble when you find yourself mindlessly humming "Les Betises," and you don't even know what it means (I feel like I need to explain that the reason we were on YouTube in the first place was to listen to "Frere Jacques," and Bebe Lilly popped up and ruined my life for two months).

I was also amazed at her very small learning curve for my phone. Yeah, she just wants to play a coloring game, but she can unlock the phone, find the game and color herself a flower without any help from me. When I watch her I can't help but think about my first computer class, which consisted of typing florescent green code on a screen the size of TV.  Don't be impressed. I was in 6th grade and made a "D" in the class. Let me repeat that - a "D." In 6th grade. If you ask me, it's a miracle that I am on a computer right now.

But here's the kicker. Piper is four. Tanner on the other hand, is 16 months old. True he's not going to DeVry or anything, but he's clearly picking up some moves. I'm probably not helping the situation by resorting to the "hey, why not find a lullaby video on YouTube to mellow you out" method of parenting, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Anyway, that's what I was thinking the other night when I located a video of "Rock-a-bye and Goodnight" that played as an eye ball floated around a bunch of bubbles. He's apparently too young to get scared by an unblinking eye, because before I knew it he was trying to hold the phone.

In another great parenting move that I'm sure I'll live to regret, I handed him the phone to see what he'd do. At first he kept grabbing at the screen, but soon realized that it went black when he did that. After about four tries, he was holding the phone on the sides like a pro. He looked so adorable as he basked in the glow of bubbles and eyeballs, that I wanted to get a picture of him. Until I realized that he had my camera.


Wednesday, August 10


I believe in karma. It exists and anyone who says differently just hasn't gotten a dose of it yet. Here's an example. When I was nineteen I hit a car in a parking lot. Knowing that I didn't have the money/insurance deductible to fix it, I drove away and didn't leave a  note. Then about a week later, my totally awesome '85 Nissan Pulsar broke down and cost me $800 to fix. 

My Mom has a slightly different interpretation. "Don't worry, payback's a bitch," was a phrase I heard a lot, usually at the end of some exasperating incident involving me. At the time I remember thinking that karma is something the universe takes care of and payback is usually doled out by other people. Plus, I don't think that payback encompasses accidents like blown speakers in the car (sorry), and bad choices like returning from a friends house with a Flock of Seagulls haircut (not sorry). 

No, I think that payback is more like revenge. For example, say you get  dumped by a guy for some chick that you both work with. Then, knowing that his car has a broken window and no air conditioning, sneaking a bag of frozen shrimp under the drivers seat. In August. Although this a totally hypothetical situation, it would be a great form of payback. As a side note, if someone would have executed this genius plot, it might have been awesome to hear him complain about the smell in his car, which would maybe have opened him up to some great "maybe it's your new girlfriend" comments.

Minor cases of B&E aside, I'm beginning to question the gray area between karma and payback, because I'm realizing that little kids do a lot of shit on purpose. Like throwing things, kicking walls, and pinching stranger's  butts (see Diana post). Plus, a lot of times they make a conscious decision to meltdown, which usually I can spot a mile away. It's like a tornado. It has no discernible path, it makes a horrible noise, and you can't outrun it.

I know that there is no rationalization for behavior that is irrational in nature. The adult mind simply cannot wrap itself around the concept that a hot dog that has been served in a bun instead of by itself is worthy of a 30 minute temper tantrum. Nor is it easy to accept it when you see your child doing something straight from your own "Childhood's Greatest Hits Live Double Album."

Before I regale you with the disaster that was my Friday night, let's have a little background. When I was a kid my Mom wanted to take me to the circus. I was stoked about it all week - until we got in the car to go. For some reason, I don't know if it was the prospect of clowns or what, I decided that the circus was the last place I wanted to be. Looking back, I admit that I was a little shit the whole night. I didn't like where we sat. I didn't like the popcorn. I was bored, and on and on and on.

Where's that crawl space again?
Finally when the circus ended, my Mom took me over to the clowns. And like everyone I've ever met, I was afraid of the them. I didn't want to go near them and refused to pose for a picture. I can remember my Mom stalking back to the car not able to even look at me. At the time I couldn't understand why she didn't respond to my "I love you's" and attempts to make amends. But now? Now I totally get it.

This past weekend, we decided to take Piper to the fair, or we at least tried to. I knew that we were in big trouble when I told her she couldn't wear her Hello Kitty crown. Normally I wouldn't have cared, but it was really windy and I didn't feel like chasing the thing all over horse-poop covered with straw. I must have really pushed her over the edge when I asked her to put on her baseball hat. You know, so she wouldn't get a sunburn. Boy, am I a bitch.

I could see her cumulonimbus cloud forming and braced myself for her unstable atmosphere, but the system seemed to stall out and everything went smoothly during the initial run through of activities. 
Piper was having fun. Mark was
having a panic attack.
Of course she only wanted to go on the Ferris wheel, clearly not knowing that both of her parents are terrified of heights. So naturally I made Mark go. I knew that he's much better at masking terror than I am. I figured that having Mommy scream for the carnie to "stop the fucking ride right NOW" might not be the best memory to carry around. 

Everyone emerged unscathed from the wheel of death, and things seemed to be heading in the right direction, until the noise. Loud noise. The kind that's only made by rides that cause people to lose change noise. A sudden spaceshipy-woooooosh combined with the tunes of Pearl Jam at an ear-splitting volume triggered some sort Vietnam flashback, bringing her to the ground crying.

That's when things began to fall apart. As her emotional wall cloud formed, I heard "there's sweat in my eyes!" I tried to wipe it off, but by then the atmosphere was definitely showing signs of visible rotation. That's when the screaming began. "It burns, it burns!" she cried as the sun block mixed with sweat and rolled behind her sunglasses. I could tell that no amount of baby wipes were going to save this situation. 

I thought fast. As a former fat kid, I knew that my best option was to throw sugar at her. I left her screaming bloody murder at a picnic table with a frustrated Mark and surprisingly calm Tanner. While waiting in line, I decided that a corn dog was in order, because well, I'm still a fat kid at heart. All total I spent $16 on a over-sized, over-priced lemonade, corn dog and funnel cake. I was positive that at least one of these items could stop the rising updraft.

Too late. 

I have never seen a glorified doughnut make a child so angry. "Noooooo! I don't want that! I want my oooooooooooown! No! I don't want that stupid lemonade. Give me soooooome! Daddy, Mommy won't let me have any drink. I want my oooooooooooown! I want my own corn dog." Ladies and gentlemen, we can confirm a touch down. 

By that time, our little F2 held the attention of everyone in our general vicinity and may have gotten some of the livestock riled up as well. To make matters worse, Piper has a habit of screaming "you're hurting me!" if you touch her when she's freaking out. Naturally, this doesn't go over very well when you have 20 police officers standing around. 

This was our cue to leave. In one swift motion, I had Tanner's stroller headed to the exit, putting as much distance between myself and our living Fujita scale as I could. Once we got home, cooled off and ate (oh, I kept that corn dog), the tornado petered out and all that was left was a bunch of emotionally downed trees. Then, the weirdest thing happened. Piper kept randomly hugging me and trying her best to cuddle, all while showering me with "I love you's." I'm not going to lie, I was too mad to respond for awhile. 

Then I thought of that circus so long ago, and all the fucked-up, John Wayne Gacy look-a-likes that my Mom made me stand next to. And even though I was super-pissed at my daughter's behavior, more than anything I was disappointed. I wanted her to have fun so that it could be something for me to remember and look back on. As we all know, I love making the memories. 

After I let go of my pure, unadulterated, rage and finally accepted the hugs and "I love you's," I felt better and so did she. I don't want her to feel like every time she makes me mad I'm going to deny her my affection. Especially when she's learning behaviors that will one day, many, many, many, many years from now (did I saw many years? I meant 30) follow her into motherhood. Because you know, payback's a bitch.

Monday, August 1


If you’re anything like me, when you think about cabin fever, you probably think about winter. Then, your thoughts may turn to Jack Torrance when he decided to get away from it all at lovely hotel with a great maze (yes, I know that the Overlook is haunted, but let’s not debate Kubrick right now). But, thanks to the surface-of-the-sun like conditions that we’ve been having lately, I’m learning that cabin fever is very real, and very much alive in the middle of summer. 

"Wendy, darling, light of my life!
I'm not gonna hurt you."
Well, you know how the rest goes...
It’s so hot. It’s awful because we’re captives in our own home until the sun goes down and even then it’s only for a few minutes so that I can take inventory of which plants died today.  I admit it. I don’t think that I would ever survive in a post-apocalyptic world. At least if it was the "Mad-Max" hot weather kind. Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t make it in a “Red Dawn” winter situation either.  Me and my weak genes would totally die.

You know it’s bad when I take to wearing sleeveless shirts, and trust me no one wants to see these ham hocks flying free. We went to a birthday party for one of Piper’s friends the other day, and the damn thing was outside. By the time we left, we looked like people from that “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” show. You know, the one where dumb-asses go hiking in the Grand Canyon with only a bottle of Dasani.  Everyone was sweaty and dirty with food smeared all over them. 

The poor dog hasn’t been on a walk in a month. Yeah, yeah I know that I should do it late in the day, but he’s a 10 year old basset hound and he’s so low to the ground that his body would basically spend 20 minutes hovering over a sidewalk that’s been baking all day.  

I am also dreading opening our electric bill. I have a feeling that we’re going to need a micro-loan to pay it.  It’s kind of like Vegas. As those slots roll round and round, your heart beats faster as you wait to see how much money you’re going to lose. 

The worst thing about the heat is the crankiness that comes with it (as if you couldn't tell by now). No one has any patience and everyone is tired. I was trying to fold laundry last night and let me tell you, it works much better if you sit up to do it.

True, we are all out there going to work and school, but our destinations are just more inside, because the only outside you can stand is the walk from inside to the car to take you to more inside. I usually look for any excuse I can find to laze it up inside, because those episodes of "My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding" aren’t going to watch themselves. I want to see what happens with Patrick, Paddy, Paddy and Paddy, but not like this. Not by force. Besides, I’ve resorted to no TV and just leaving the New Age station running so that hopefully it will calm everyone down.

I noticed that it’s going to be a blustery 90 degrees on Friday. Maybe this means that we can take a spin around the maze without having to leave a man behind. Because goddamn it H.I., you never leave a man behind.