Sunday, January 25, 2004

HDTV is really nice except for all the sweat.

I'm watching all the HD programming and the thing that sticks out for me is I can see the sweat on people's heads. I realize it must get pretty hot under TV lights. That's why Letterman keeps the Ed Sullivan Theater so cold. He's perfectly comfortable in front of an audience full of pairs of puckered nipples.

Eric, from the cable company, gave us HDTV on Saturday. Eric and I stood down here in the basement and watched a concert pianist. The pianist was sweating like a pig. The camera would zoom in on the guy and you could see the fluid spill out of his pores.

Next was a talk show with a bald host. You could see the droplets bead up on the host's head like a steamed windshield. After that Chick Corea was in concert and, sure enough, everyone in the band was covered with sweat.

Swimming in video sweat isn't so bad when it's digitally enhanced. In fact, I'll say that about anything in high def.
With the advent of the boxer brief it seems that I'm spending a lot more time in just my underwear. Somehow I'm convinced that extra three inches of fabric covering my upper thigh is all I need to avoid an indecent exposure charge when answering my front door.

Another factor in this it's okay to eat breakfast in your skivies equation is winter. Cold weather means I've been wearing T-shirts. That means all I need to do is remove a single layer of clothing and I have on my instant rest and relaxation uniform.

It's pure sloth. Every weekend morning I come downstairs looking like a refugee from an underfunded phy-ed program for paunchy men. Our parents would never think of leaving their bedrooms without underwear, pajamas, a robe and proper foot gear for padding around the house. As for me, I no longer care if all the neighbors see me standing in front of the dining room window in my green boxer briefs and Blue Man Group T-shirt.

How many layers do we need? I'm guessing, if you're not at the beach, most people feel comfortable with two layers between them and your wedding tackle.


Honey, your cow's out of the barn.


Well, yes. There is that. However modern boxer brief technology has almost entirely eradicated cows escaping from their 100% cotton corrals. That's not to say Deb hasn't seen her share of cattle taking a peak, just to say moo. But what's the problem with the occaisional barnyard breakout among friends?

Entropy. That's the problem. The decay will continue. If I don't insist on at least pulling on a pair of sweats in the morning I'll just start wearing my underwear everywhere. Then one day, I'll need to run out and get some milk for breakfast. I'll look in the mirror and think, These things really do look like shorts. I'll walk into the store and get half-way to the dairy case before someone Debbie works with notices there's only a single layer of protection keeping them from seeing what's in the cattle pen. I'll get embarrassed and realize going to the store in just my underwear was a bad idea. I'll walk faster and faster to the checkout. By the time I make it to the register you just know a cow and maybe a couple of goats will have made their way out of the corral and into the pasture. The checkout person will notice this. He or she will sound some kind of silent alarm. I'll be wrestled to the ground by a couple of guys stocking the cereal aisle. The next thing I know I'm sitting at the police station with five or six grocery sacks artfully tied around my waist trying to get Debbie to come pick me up.

I'd better get upstairs and get some pants on. Although, these things really do look like shorts.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

You know you're getting old when you sit through an entire State of the Union address. Deb and I watched the entire 57 minute speech and kept our sarcastic remarks to a minimum. The truth of the matter is I was waiting to hear something about Mars exploration. Deb wanted to watch Dr. No. She gently slapped me on the cheek when Bush ended his address without a word about his space initiative. Steroid use among our nation's athlete/role models made the cut.

This morning I was trying to think how I would distinguish a Democrat from a Republican for my daughter. The only thing I could come up with was a tightrope act. Democrats want to create strong, reliable safety nets. Republicans say lose the nets and put the money into a wider tightrope.

I'm all for a wider tightrope but people are going to fall off the thing regardless of how big the rope is. I don't want to see anyone hit the ground. I'm sure most republicans would say the same thing and suggest we have a little more faith in everyone's ability to balance. Maybe throw a couple of used mattresses around for the fraction of our population with inner-ear disturbances.


Where hell is Amy Carter?

Back in 1976, when I was ten years old, I was in sixth grade. I played Jimmy Carter in a mock debate and kicked Gerald Ford's ass. I won the class election in a landslide. Despite the fact that my political awareness began with Nixon and Watergate, I never really paid much attention until Carter. It didn't hurt that Jimmy had a daughter who is only two years younger than me.

That's why I was paying attention when Amy Carter started speaking out against the arms race. A kid making statements and people were actually, sort of, listening to her. I was convinced that she was going to grow up and become President herself someday. Her platform would include more national holidays to interrupt the school year, a Dune Buggy in Every Garage initiative, pre-pubescent suffrage and something about obfuscating parental involvement in BB gun purchases. Her cabinet members would include the Six Million Dollar Man and Laurie from the Partridge Family.

Amy, if you're reading this, drop me an email. I want to manage your campaign and ultimately become your Chief of Staff. I'll be your second term running mate. Not interested? I have five words for you: Steve Austin, Secretary of Defense.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Just another post so I'm one post closer to getting that damn ghost picture off my page.

Friday, January 16, 2004

There's a little restaurant in town that we head to when we're not in the mood to feed ourselves. It's a small place where, if you really tried, you could probably listen in on the conversations at every table and booth in the place. What's more, you could probably jump in on the discussion, if you were so inclined, and no one would raise an eyebrow.

The place is owned by two, rail-thin sisters that once worked as waitresses for a competitor. Deb and I remember how these women worked their tails off in those days. They hustled to take orders and deliver meals. They joked with the regulars and doted on the occasionals to convert them into regulars. They must have decided their efforts would better serve themselves and bought a restaurant to go head-to-head with their old boss. Eating at the little restaurant they purchased feels like participating in a great, all-American, entrepreneurial allegory. Plus the food isn't bad.

Last night the lone waitress in the joint was taking care of seven people (eight if you count our baby). Allie ordered her usual: Mickey Mouse Pancake with blueberry eyes and nose with a single strip of bacon for the mouth. She washed it down with chocolate milk. Please, don't send me emails with links to food pyramids and nutritional studies. Allie doesn't eat like this all the time.

We all had good, reasonably priced meals. Allie was gabbing up a storm with the waitress. After describing, in great detail, what her birthday cake was going to look like, Allie asked our waitress if she was going to call her on her birthday. The waitress offered Allie a free cookie on her birthday if she stopped by the restaurant. Allie pressed for a phone call and asked where the woman's phone was. The waitress pointed to the phone on the wall and then mentioned the three other phones she has access to at home. We have phones at our house, too. Mommy and daddy have phones in their bedroom and clock radios. I have a clock radio in my bedroom and a light next to my bed. . . Allie continued, but what she was telling the waitress just kind of blended together in my ears. It's a sweet and very familiar tone full of machine gunned facts from a three-year-old's head that I've learned to manipulate into music.

By this time the other patrons were giggling at my daughter. This happens quite a bit. Many times a person, usually a mom, stops to get a closer look at the kids and graciously comments on how cute they are. Julia, of course, is oblivious, but Allie's head swells to gargantuan proportions.

Visiting Mom: You have beautiful hair.

Allie: I know.

[Stern look from Mom & Dad with Dad mouthing the words, "Thank you."]

Allie: Thank you!

Allie continued to hold court in the restaurant for another five minutes while we settled the tab and bundled up against a cold parking lot. By the time we got out the door and into the car Deb and I looked at each and agreed we were thankful Allie didn't issue informal birthday party invitations for everyone at the restaurant. Not to say that we thought people would actually come, but we still would have had to purchased extra Sleeping Beauty place settings just in case.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Creeeeepy. . .

I tried a dozen times to publish the ghost picture you see below.

I would substitute different pictures and they would work, but the ghost picture refused to publish. I moved the shot to a different server. Still wouldn't work. Then I tried to delete the file off all of my servers. I kept getting an "in use" error and the files refused to go into the trash.

Finally, for some reason, it decided to work.

Now, this image was originally attached to a chain email that said bad luck would befall me if I didn't send it to everyone on my contact list.

Well, I'm sort of sending to everyone on my contact list and them some by putting it here.

Hopefully I'll come out of this unscathed.

Last night I stayed up until well after midnight watching a DVD in the basement. A three-year-old in the house means I have to stay up late to watch anything that might contain objectionable material. In this case the movie was Pulp Fiction and making sure Allie was fast asleep before I pressed play was a wise move, to say the least. Losing a little sleep is worth avoiding reports of Allie walking around at daycare screaming, I'll execute every last one of you mother $%&#@$'s.

Many evenings, during the week, I usually don't make it upstairs for bed until around 11:30. That means the basement and the first floor are empty and it's my responsibility to make sure all the lights have been turned off. I have to turn off the lights and make my way upstairs. In the dark. . .

Walking by the basement doorway is the worst. I know there is something down there that has been unleashed now that all the lights are out. It had been smelling me the entire time I was watching my movie or reading or typing on this computer. Smelling me. Craving me. By the time I pass by the door on my way to the stairs this something has thought of plenty of ways to eat me in the most painful way possible.

My philosophy is the something can't eat what it can't catch so I walk really fast (okay, run) to get to the stairway and the bound up the stairs. Deb often hears my steps accelerate as I pass by the basement door. Many times she's still quietly laughing at me by the time I make it into bed.

Truth is, it's usually not a vague something that's down in the basement. It's almost always Regan Mcneil from The Exorcist or that little girl from The Ring. Lately it's been this picture in the back of my mind as I run up the stairs:

I never would have guessed, as a seven-year-old, that now, at 37, I would be afraid of little girls. Little girls possessed by Satan, but little girls nonetheless.

I'd better wrap this up. I can hear people getting ready for bed upstairs and I don't want to miss out on a free ride past the basement door.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Allie has a new game she likes to play. I'm calling it Quiz Bowl. The game is simple. I ask her questions and she answers them. For every right answer she gets a high five and a, you're so smart! For each wrong answer I tell her I'm going to pinch her head off and then do my best to make it happen (so far her head is still on her shoulders).

Most of the questions are softballs: What's your phone number? What number comes before nine?" "What's mommy's favorite treat? (she is still only three, after all). But Deb and I are still surprised by the breadth of Allie's knowledge. And the fact that she knows where her epiglottis is and what it does floors me.

I'm boasting, a little. But the truth is, I find Quiz Bowl a little depressing. Each correct answer is another indication that Allie's growing up. My days as Quiz Master are numbered. Allie will be starting school in a couple of years and then, before I know it, I'll no longer be able to help her with her homework because I'm too dumb (damn FOIL method).

But for now, for a short while, I am the Quiz Master. I ask the questions and hold all the answers within my powerful, Quiz Master's brain. I have the power to bestow high fives or to pinch heads off shoulders. I am the Alpha/Omega of all the knowledge in the universe. . . or at least I am this week. Next week, I'm back to being the guy that has difficulty making change at a bake sale.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Last night Julia had an upset stomach (or something) and cried, continuously, for more than half-an-hour. I spent the majority of this episode safely downstairs moving between the futon (watching a DVD) and my desk chair (messing with this Web site).

After Deb had finally put Julia to bed she came to visit me in the basement. She demonstrated, with her expression and posture, just how grueling the past 45 minutes had been.

I felt bad for Deb. But I've gone through my share of solo "gas bubble exorcisms" so it's not as if hiding in the basement was that big of a sin. Plus, Julia was downstairs with me when she started crying. I maintain that she would have stopped if I had just a few more minutes to let her find her happy place and quietly go to it on her own. But Debbie made the decision to take her upstairs. Admirable in a peculiar way; like when Buddhist monks set themselves on fire in protest.

Last night's events led me to think about the friends and family that have recently had cute and tiny, loud and stinky bundles or have them on the way. I've compiled a few tips that may be helpful to them now or in the near future:

1. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise? Substitute a baby for the tree and you're well on your way to a semi-valid rationalization for locking your infant in his/her nursery while you step out for a movie.

2. Babies are always wet and that makes them good conductors of electricity. Don't bother with cumbersome extension cords when there's only an additional foot, or so, between your outlet and the margarita blender. A baby fills the gap nicely. What's more, while you're using your appliance, the baby remains remarkably quiet.

3. Recalled or banned infant products are often a good litmus test for child development. Surviving the use of these products is often an indication of superior intellect and/or motor skills.

4. Diapers. The answer to this parental bane is simple: a more efficient diet. By feeding babies intense amounts of fiber and providing a minimal amount of fluids (required for survival), an infant's waste consists mainly of small, hard, odorless pellets. Not only do these pellets help avoid the need for a diaper, but they make a fine alternative fuel source for hibachis or small wood burning stoves.

5. Infant clothing is expensive. Carpet remnants are not.

6. More nutrition advice: Back in the pre-Bronze era do you think they waited six months to start weaning their babies? Heck no! These early parents shoved whatever they were eating into the mouths of their offspring and so should you. Free yourself from the myth of nursing or bottle feeding. Allergies be damned! Ask yourself what you'd rather eat; Enfamil or a nice, pre-chewed rib eye? If you answered pre-chewed steak (and you probably did), then you're on your way to having a happier, quieter, baby.

7. Reading to babies is a waste of time. They don't know what you're talking about you have better things to do. Your babies should be watching television from the moment they exit the womb.

8. Maintaining a planner/plan-implementer dynamic (wherein the father is the planner and the mother is the plan-implementer) is vital. For example: A father will suggest that it's time for child to be fed because the child is crying. Acting upon the father's plan of action, a mother will implement the plan by washing a bottle, mixing formula, heating formula, feeding and burping the baby. A father's role is obviously the most significant. Therefore, in order to maintain the role as planner, fathers require special consideration when it comes to their every desire and indulgence.

9. While an infant's skeletal structure is almost entirely composed of cartilage, it is unwise to assume that babies bounce. They can, however, absorb tremendous amounts of impact energy. This fact can lead to big savings when car seat shopping.

10. With some minor modifications, infants are able to use the same workout equipment that adults use. Your infant would benefit from time spent with a BowFlex as much as you would, tubby.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I hope you'll be patient with me while I rebuild some of the content here. Between the blog, the Web site and .mac pages I was getting really confused. This is my attempt to consolidate everything into a single spot on the Web.

Here's part of an email I got from my mom:
Hey! I wish you would leave your web page alone... redo this mess you made. Please.
Your mother

I'm on it, ma. Give me a few weeks and everything will be back to normal. I swear!