Friday, December 23, 2005

Working the Man

Julia sat back and let Allie lay all the groundwork. Allie's pitch got off to a slow start, but after a 45 minute wait to see Santa there was no way she wasn't going to make the most of it.

What did she ask for?

An end to war and hunger.

Yeah, right. . .

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Define "Bad Dad"

This evening, as Allie was changing into her pajamas, I decided it would be fun to see if the kid would go outside in her undies.

The concept isn't a new one for me. A long time ago my brother and I got bored one very cold evening and decided to run around in the snow in our underwear.

It was a stupid idea then.

Stupid -- but kind of exhilarating and it certainly alleviated our ennui.

So I thought I'd make Allie's evening by betting her a dollar she wouldn't go out in the snow. She looked at me and said that I was right; she wouldn't go outside for a dollar.

Next I tried to get her to go out by letting her know I'd join her.

She still wasn't interested.

Finally I got down to my skivies and grabbed her. I threw open the door. I lifted her up by her hands and we ran down the front walk to the driveway. Then I let her go and she sprinted back to the warmth and safety of our foyer.

That's when I noticed she was crying.

Turns out she wasn't crying because she was cold. Instead she was crying because, oh - I don't know, I might have told her the police will arrest little girls who venture outside in their underwear (or something like that, I'm not sure). What's more, she saw a car go by as we ran around our front yard, in our undies, in the icy breeze. By then Allie was convinced she needed to prepare for whatever a five year-old imagines prison to be.

Now here's the kicker: She asked, "Will Santa come if he finds out I went outside in my underwear?"

Not only did I traumatized the poor girl, but I had jeopardized her good standing with the big guy in the red suit. Suddenly I was the bad dad who ruined Christmas.

It didn't take Deb long to console Allie. During the quick process of calming her down Allie looked at her mom and emphatically declared, "Daddy's weird!"

Can't argue.

But she wasn't bored. No doubt about that.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


This came to me at work the other day.

At first it was all the stamps that got my attention.

But then I couldn't help thinking about the disturbing amount of dried, human saliva I probably was holding in my hands.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Merry Christmas - I can't feel my fingers.

Want to know how your guarantee yourself a shitty Christmas tree this season? Go shopping for one in three degree weather.

I cold.

Julia chanted this forty or fifty times as we walked to catch up to Deb and Allie. They were ahead of us checking out the selection of $12 trees that this particular lot uses to lure in holiday bargain hunters. Occasionally, if you’re willing to look long and hard, you can find a decent tree here. Unfortunately three degrees means none of us were willing to sort through the freeze-dried, dyed-green, tumbleweeds.

The girls looked miserable. Deb’s nose was beyond rosy and Allie and Julia’s cheeks looked as if they had been rubbed raw then shellacked. “Isn’t this fun?” I asked. All three quickly replied, “No.”

As we got deeper into the lot Deb found a little frazier fir for $25. It was short and narrow. “How about this one?” she begged. As soon as she designated her choice Deb whined a little and fled with Julia into a building where they make wreaths and take your money.

I asked Allie if she liked the tree. She said she didn’t. “Well, let’s go look over here for a better one,” I said and started walking away from Deb’s choice.

“Daddy, I’m freezing.” Allie said.

“Come on, don’t be a baby.”

“I don’t want to look anymore.”

“Do you like this tree?”


“Then let’s go find a good one.”

I left Allie standing there and took about twenty steps away from her to look for another tree. It only took twenty steps to realize I no longer cared what tree we got as the three degree weather was frosting my nuts. So I walked back and grabbed the little tree without saying a word to Allie and she didn’t say a word to me.

While Deb paid $25 I threw the frozen fir into the trunk of the Mazda. I used bungee cords to secure the trunk lid. As I pulled one of the cords to attach it to the car’s bumper it snapped back and thunked me in the forehead. Fuckin’ cocksucker motherfucker! The other people in the lot looked my way as I held my forehead and grimaced at them. “I could’ve lost my damn eye,” I said out loud as I tried to reattach the cord. I really don’t think anyone who heard all this cared; but I thought they should know.

So Christmas has officially begun despite the fact our tree hasn’t made it to the living room yet. It’s in the garage. It might stay there for a while. At least until the bump on my forehead goes away.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Dear Abby,

My body hates me.

It doesn’t want me in it and isn’t just quietly suffering any longer. Things are getting bad.

It craves salt and fat. It loathes exercise. Its skin absorbs heat and UV radiation so readily that it turns candy apple red when exposed to a 75 watt bulb for more than 30 seconds. It has been exposed to a host of chemicals which await release from fatty tissues in order to cause disruption, corruption and mutation at the cellular level.

The evidence that my body desires a long term separation is overwhelming. I find bumps, scales and strangely colored patches on my body’s skin. There’s a knee that makes strange popping noises in the morning. There are ankles that feel as if they’re ready to cave with the least bit of provocation. It demands a surplus of air after lifting small children up just two flights of stairs. There is constant belching, farting and the excretory experience is only consistent in that it is never consistent. Plus, it’s fat.

Boy; is it fat.

It’s never been larger or heavier.

I’ve tried to force my body to accept our relationship by attempting some improvements. In fact, last week I fired my first salvo by doing the breakfast thing, choosing the right foods, limiting my portions.

I gained three pounds.

Granted, I didn’t keep it up over the weekend and ate crap what wasn’t good for me. But that’s what I do every weekend. One would think that if I behaved during the week and then continued with my regular habits for just a couple of days that I could at least maintain.

So, it’s clear my body hates me.

I know; I need to get my body to love me once again. But how do you rescue a relationship after it has gone so badly for so many years? Anything I do garners a nasty reaction. A trip to the treadmill therapist winds up becoming a massive, sweaty struggle that leaves me exhausted and convinced that I should never return for a repeat session. If I attempt to romance my body with gifts of cruciferous vegetables and fruit it pushes them away and whines for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. I’ve read books, magazines, scoured the internet and looked to others who have overcome these types of problems for inspiration. Nothing seems to work.

My body is angry, resentful and wants an attorney. And what makes these relationship problems all the worse is the fact that there are children in the mix.

I know my story isn’t uncommon, but I’m coming to the end of my rope (and at this weight, it’s really freakin’ difficult to hold on).

Beyond Husky

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Last year I wrote about this photo I saw at my Grandma's house.

If you'd like to get a better look at the photo and revisit the post click here.

Want to see what Grandma looks like today?

Click multimedia and watch the video called Gertrude.

Ambien Cookies

Today Deb started making Christmas cookies with the girls. If you go to the Flickr! photostream there are a few pictures.

It doesn't end there.

If you know the password click password please. There you can see this year's Thanksgiving in glorious 2 inch wide QuickTime.

If you don't know the password and are really bored (and I'm not joking here; you've got to be really bored) click multimedia. Deb shot some video of me getting ready to go for a ride on Gus.

Gus is the new motorcycle.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Podcasting Woes

I’m sorry some of you are experiencing difficulties listening to our Podcasts. I'm sure it's because I don't know what I'm doing. Despite this some people have been able to download these files.

If you can play MP3s on your computer, then you shouldn’t have any trouble listening. If you’re getting a screen full of indecipherable symbols then you might need to download or update your media player.

I think all computers should have QuickTime but Windows Media Player will do.

Once you have installed these players you shouldn’t have any problems hearing the Podcast. And once you’ve listened, you will wonder why you went to any trouble.

For example, here's me trying to get the girls to go to bed.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Can you read this in 30 seconds?

Lately I’ve found myself skimming The Bleat. That’s never really happened before. I’ve always gobbled up every word James Lileks metes out to us on his Web site. Now I find myself quickly searching his paragraphs for word combos like Jasper & run over or Gnat & therapy or Target & Apple & bankruptcy court that might pique my waning interest.

I’m surprised. Particularly when James seems to have eliminated (or at least relegated to another blog) all the not-too-keen political screeds that once peppered his Bleats. He now provides a pipeline of 98% pure saccharine in the form of tales about peddling his latest book or raising his daughter or hours spent watching film noir or digging through his endless collection of ephemera.

It’s everything I could ask for from the man.

And yet I skim.

I feel guilty but more significantly I feel a little suspicious of you.

You’re skimming me. I can sense it. Unless you see words like vomit or dead hamster you’re slamming your browser into second gear and heading over to Gawker to read about Tara Reid’s new breasts. I can’t say that I blame you but DAMMIT - I’ve put a little effort into this crap. What does it take to hold on to you for 30 seconds? [And, by the way, that’s how long it takes to read this post, up to this point. I timed it.]

Blogger has a featured blog called Bored Housewife. She keeps you reading her posts by showing you her cleavage (okay I didn’t actually read her posts). I have cleavage, but there’s hair all over it.

That’s not good for anyone.

Saturday, November 26, 2005


Our first Podcast direct to you from Greg & Deb on the Web Studios (otherwise known as the $99 Mac running a nifty little bit of shareware called Audacity). Interested? Click here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Allie Leibovitz?

Allie has her own photo set on Flickr.

She walked around most of the afternoon clicking pictures of everything (and I do mean everything) with our trusty, old, $50 Samsung camera.

I chose some shots to post. It was a fairly random process. At first I asked Allie to choose her photos. She had about 100 of the 113 that she wanted to represent her oeuvre.

I picked nine.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Where's Amy?

I'm sitting in my bedroom watching the girls giggle and wrestle with one another on our bed. Hey Julie by Fountains of Wayne is playing on iTunes. I just glanced down at my foot and it's involuntarily twitching in time to the music. It's cold outside but we're all warm, well-fed and can remain that way without much effort for what seems to be a long, long time.

How long will this last?

Not long. The moment has past. It was a good one. But now I'm yelling at the girls and telling them they're going to break their necks if they fall off the bed. Deb just came in and gave me the evil eye for letting Allie stay up so long after her bedtime.

How long will this last?

Not long. Now I'm typing and all I can think about is you. What kind of moments are filling your evening? Google brought you here but you can't find that post regarding Amy Carter and you really don't feel like weeding though anything here to find it. So you point you browser to CNN to see if anything has happened since the last time you checked (seven minutes ago).

Now what?

I don't know. And I probably won't find out. After all, this thing really only works one way. And that's fine because I'm not really in the mood for company right now.

All I really want to do is clean the lint out of my belly button lint and hit the hay.

The fact that I discovered that I really hate Scott McClellan today doesn't really mean much right now. I don't hate anyone, really. But seeing him and listening to the sound of his voice makes me crazy. Like those people driven to convulsions by Mary Hart. I was always more of a Dee Dee Myers type guy. And anyone who patronizes Helen Thomas deserves a kick in the nads.

For so many reasons I will be happy when this administration goes the way of the Dodo and every last remnant is swept away and forgotten. Like, unfortunately, the Carter administration. . .

Did you know Amy Carter and I got married in the same year?

It's true!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I've Got Gas

My SoundDock still doesn't work. I sent it back to the factory and they wiped it down with a paper towel, put it in a box and shipped it back to me. It arrived on our front porch yesterday.

It's not crackling and popping anymore but there is a very loud hiss in the background. I'm going to assume if I call Bose they're going to tell me that it's a problem with my iPod.

I'll get to the bottom of it, eventually. In the mean time there will be hissing.

Later on Tuesday evening Julia decided to destroy the last page of a book Allie's kindergarten teacher had created. Each page included a photo of and art by every kid in the class. It's the kind of rare, irreplaceable documentation of one of the sweetest, most fleeting periods in a child's life that deserves to be handled with white cotton gloves. So it's no surprise we left it in the hands of a human paper shredder.

Julia made quick work of the page that featured all the comments from other parents. I spent twenty minutes trying to match up other parents' handwriting then taping the shredded paper together with the smallest pieces of Scotch tape I could manage to pull off the dispenser. There wasn't much I could do about all the ink scribbles.

I imagine living with Julia is what it would be like to have a chimpanzee in the house only with less charm, a little less hair (we'll address this in another post), a larger vocabulary and greatly diminished upper body strength.

As annoying as this was, it wasn't as bad as when my motorcycle hit the curb on Saturday. It went over on its side. The fall broke off the end of the brake lever and severely scratched the tank. You see, I left the motorcycle running in the street in front of the house to warm up while I went inside to kiss all three girls goodbye. The kickstand was positioned outside the gutter. I'm sure a car went by and the resulting breeze was enough to knock over my bike.

It's fine, really; just not as pristine as it once was. Plus, I wasn't on the thing when it fell over and now I know how to park my bike. Debbie said this, "It's your first bike. These things are going to happen." Her words were a nice poultice. Not just because she let me know she understood how much my dumbass parking mishap bothered me, but because she said this is my first bike meaning she's fully prepared for my second or perhaps even third bike.

I'm already shopping.

And then it started to snow last night. Actually it was a cold, wet rain that aspired to become snow but just didn't have enough ambition. Tonight it found some chutzpah and we've got a couple of inches.

I decided I'd better start winterizing all the small motors in the garage. I sucked all the gas out of the lawn mower and worked on the snow blower for an hour to get it started. After pouring gas into the carburetor for the fifth time I finally got it started. In the process I found myself covered in gas. I can't get the smell out of my skin. I used dishwashing liquid, scented soap and even toothpaste.

It won't go away.

I've decided the only thing I can do is a controlled burn. I'll set myself on fire in the shower and hopefully I'll have the presence of mind to put myself out.

I wonder what I'll look like without eyebrows.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Am I Stable?

Picture retakes at school today.

The photographer got Allie off-center the first time around so they refused to send us any photos. I was surprised by how angry I was. I tried to call the company and couldn’t get through to anyone. Good thing. I may have raised my voice or linked words together that might have left the customer service representative with the impression that I was prepared to take ownership of the school photography company via litigation and once all the paperwork was complete I would burn down the school photography company building and stomp around on the ashes all red faced and shit.

I hope her pictures turn out this time.

There’s a guy at work who refuses to say hello to me. I’m not the only person he doesn’t acknowledge so I’m not exactly broken up about it. However I always feel uncomfortable around him because I actually go to the trouble of stifling my urge to greet this man. I walk by him and I think he must notice my eyeballs bulging because I’m swallowing a, How’s it going? or suppressing a Good morning!

This is why when I saw he was alone the other day I approached him. I said, “Hi, I’m Greg. I wanted to apologize to you. You never respond whenever I say hello so I’ve gone out of my way to avoid saying anything at all to you. I wanted you to know that I think it’s ridiculous and immature behavior and that I’m sorry.”

I babbled on about him being the guy who doesn’t say hello and it was entirely his right not to say a word to me and how silly I had been. It was apparent that my apology made this guy really uncomfortable. He told me there was no need to apologize and even said he was sorry himself for not returning my greetings. He really hadn’t noticed anything unusual about my behavior around him and wasn’t aware that he never said hello. He said he was from the East coast (I couldn’t tell if that was an explanation or just background information). He’s new and just getting a feel for things around the office. After that he extricated himself from the situation as quickly as he could.

He didn’t run away from me, but I could tell he really wanted to walk much faster than he normally would.

This had to be the most passive aggressive thing I’ve done in a very long time. I made this guy squirm just because he didn’t return my hallway hellos. At this moment, I’m still trying to figure out what it was that I had hoped to gain from the encounter. I truly was acting on impulse when I approached this guy. I’m sure I had every intention of providing a sincere apology that would hopefully lead to us playing a rousing game of tether-ball together at recess.

Next time I see him I’ll ask him to lunch.

I’m pretty sure he’ll call human resources or perhaps even his attorney and the police (in that order).

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Late night conversation from planet Married-World:

D - You okay?
G - They won't make me a Jedi Master.
D - Maybe they will next dream.
G - My pee smells funny.
D - Zzzzzz.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Give Blood

According to the National Weather Service I spent most of my 45 minute morning commute sitting in 19° weather. 19° is the wind chill factor on a 37° day with a 70 mph average wind speed.

Deb thinks I’m crazy for riding my motorcycle to work this morning. In fact, as I was putting on my gloves to go out the door I barely breathed the words, “I must be nuts.” Deb was two rooms away and I heard her shout, “You are nuts.”

My hands hurt. My knees felt arthritic. I would have thought my scrotum was shielded from the wind but when I got off the bike my balls were noticeably chilled.

It was great.

By the time I left work the temperature had risen twenty degrees and I had a more enjoyable experience. It was cold, but my balls were in better shape when I got home.

Time to shift gears.

Get it?

The spectre of hardcore addiction looms over our household. Not an evening goes by without everyone foraging through the girls’ Halloween candy looking for the best bits. Allie always asks, “Did I eat a good dinner?” Regardless of our answer she still asks, “Can I have a dessert?” For every piece of dessert Allie gets I have two or three. My rationalization is that I’m saving her from herself by removing the temptation that a fun size Snickers presents. The truth is I’m setting myself up for type II diabetes and hyperglycemic convulsions.

Give Daddy another Reese’s, Mommy. He shakes just like Tickle Me Elmo.

If you haven’t read Deb’s post about donating blood you should take a look at her blog. Deb’s so fanatical we’ve even taken the girls in to give blood. Who knew the requisite 475 ml is waaaaay too much to take out of a two year-old. Talk about a close call. She looked like an empty Capri Sun container. But it’s amazing what a few cookies and some O.J. can do.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Regarding Web Site Updates

I haven't exactly had a fire in my belly when it comes to updating this site.

Cold weather means I should have more time to sit here in the basement and change templates, post photos, edit movies or go on about my latest in a series of bad haircuts and/or poorly crafted meals (last night's chicken pot pie mostly sucked).

So far, I haven't really had the time (or more accurately; I haven't made the time) to do anything more than surf. And that's too bad because there are things happening.

For example: Claudette and Pam are together in Vegas this week. Their mother called last night to report they are having a great time and they planned to see male strippers that evening.

How many male strippers can one fit into a double room at the Monte Carlo?

Perhaps Deb's sisters know the answer by now.

They're spending a lot of time in Vegas. From my experience, time is the one thing you don't want a lot of when visiting Vegas. Money, latex, penicillin, lantern batteries - these are the types of things you want in quantity when vacationing in Vegas. A surplus of time, however, can only lead to trouble. Pam and Claudette have good imaginations and adventurous spirits. Combine that with ample time in Sin City and somehow I don't think buying overpriced merchandise at one of the casino malls is going to cut the mustard for these two.

That said - mug shots are not difficult to get and I will post them here when they become available.

Kandy let me borrow her Theremin. I've been anxious to spend some time with this thing and I plan to show you how it works before I return it to her. I always feel like Mr. Rogers when I bring something like this home. Remember how he used to bring stuff in with him and show it to you once he changed into his sweater and sneakers? It was always something like toy trucks or a puppet. I think I bring home things that are far more interesting and the girls don't have to wait for me to change my clothes before they can see it.

Shannon and Anna are having a baby. Last night Shannon called me as he drove to the grocery store to buy bacon for Anna. Anna is trying to eat continuously in order stave off morning sickness. Last night, she wanted bacon. Shannon described her plans for some kind of peppered cheese and bacon sandwich. I say it beats the heck out of pickles or, God forbid, Pica.

I hope potting soil wasn't on his list.

Dwayne called me via his computer last night (checkout I've really wanted to talk motorcycles with him for the past few days but I hung up on him last night. We were all in the middle of Star Wars Episode III when he called. Too intense for the kids? Maybe. But Allie really got into it. She wants to be a Jedi Knight now.

Do Jedis have pink light sabers?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Whole lot a wavin' goin' on.

I didn't know that people on motorcycles all wave at one another. And it's not just any kind of wave, either. It's with the left hand and it's a low wave with not a lot of wiggle.

I apologize if I've violated the code but I thought it was awesome that complete strangers were waving at me just because I was on two wheels like them.

Even the Harley guys wave.

This morning, when I drove to work on the motorcycle, kids at bus stops waved at me. They never wave at me when I'm driving in my car. Put me on a motorcycle and I'm suddenly worthy of a wave.

I got a great deal on this bike (a 2001 with 4,800 miles). So far it runs great. So far it's very forgiving. So far it's fast enough, comfortable enough and it fits in the garage.

So far so good.

Really good.

I do need a bag or cargo net or something. Does anyone have any sub-$40 luggage recommendations for a 2001 Suzuki GS500?

Monday, October 31, 2005

No Surprises

290 something. We've had more kids come to our porch expecting candy but 290 something is still a respectable number.

Lots of moms on cell phones. Plenty of toddlers wrapped up in expensive, intricately crafted animal suits.

The porch looked okay. No Mummy this year. But the fog machine and sound effects made up for it. I used a strobe light this year. This afternoon Allie and I walked around the Buy and Sell Shop. We met the owner, Mike. Mike had three or four strobe lights blinking in the window. I asked to buy one. Mike refused. He said he needed it for his display.

He asked me why I wanted one of the lights.

I told him it was for Halloween.

"Why don't you just borrow one?" he asked.

I had just met this guy and he was giving me stuff.

Faith in humanity restored, blah, blah, blah.

The strobe did a great job of illuminating the fog and completely disorienting me to the point of me groping for kids' treat bags to find someplace to drop candy.

Julia and Allie had a good time. Julia really didn't get the hand of Trick or Treating until the end.

For some reason Deb and I are exhausted. I'm going to go to bed.

I didn't buy the motorcycle.

You're not surprised. Are you?

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

At 4:09 a.m. I'm still trying to decide.

Dave and I drove to four different dealerships on Saturday. I took this Buell for a spin. I sat down at the salesman's desk and we started the paperwork.

I forgot the checkbook.

I don't know if leaving the checkbook at home was my subconscious at work. But as I sat in the guy's office while he went to see if a credit card would do the trick a huge wave of buyer's remorse washed over me. That's not unusual. I often get the same feeling when buying socks. Of course, this was different.

Turns out they have limits on credit card purcases so my Visa card wasn't going to get me the bike that day. For better or worse, this has left me with more time to think

Now I've got to decide.

I love riding this thing. But I'll only be able to take it out a couple more times this year. Then there's the fact that I have small children. Lifting them in and out of the bathtub would be difficult with my arm in a cast (or worse). And I don't have enough time as it is. When am I going to be able to spend two or three hours rolling around the backroads? Plus, it's expensive. The price of the bike, insurance, maintenance. . .

4:19 a.m.

Hopefully, by the time you're reading this I will have made up my mind.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Breaking the Code

I know it's been three days since I flew into Ft. Worth but I can't stop thinking about the woman I sat next to on the plane.

She was an older woman. She fidgeted in her seat. She talked to herself. Sometimes she made odd, convulsive movements.

She also farted.

A lot.

The intensity of these stinkbursts left no doubt that they were coming from my neighbor's ass. I couldn't even turn toward her because I'm sure I would have shot her a look that would have burned a hole into the back of her skull.

Her stench would hit me and I would just tilt my head back and move my fingers in front of my face trying to brush away some of the molecules that had just come from her intestines.

Finally I'd had enough and I reached into my bag to get a piece of paper. I was planning to write, "Please. For the love of God. Stop farting."

Then the pilot announced that we were beginning our descent.

She farted one last time before we hit the ground.

By this forth salvo, I'm pretty sure I'd deciphered the scent code of her butt steam. It was obvious she'd been eating fermented earthworms and dogshit.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Easy Part

This morning I got to drop Allie off at school. Usually it’s Debbie, but today I took a stab at it.

I was a little worried. Despite being prepped by both Deb and Allie I still wasn’t sure about the procedure and the thought of a dozen mini-vans lined up behind me bleeping their horns made me a little queasy.

Instead of braving the circle drive of certain death I just parked in front of the school and walked Allie to the entrance. This was a good thing. I know by next year she probably won’t want to hold my hand in front of other kids. Today she seemed proud.

“There’s Abbie,” Allie shouted. “Today’s a little different,” Allie told Abbie. “Today my Daddy’s taking me to school.”

Abbie (or whatever the hell her name is) looked to be at least a year ahead of Allie. She didn’t respond to Allie. Instead she glanced at us as if we each had a medium sized turd perched on each of our left shoulders. Then Allie turned back to me and said, “Call me tonight from Texas.” For some reason this made Abbie (or whatever the hell her name is) pause for a moment to scan me as if she was looking for an I’m Going to Texas patch embroidered on my jacket. When the little snot didn’t spot anything that made me or my daughter any more interesting than the other people in the crowd she moved on.

I leaned in to kiss Allie and she grabbed me around my neck and squeezed. “Don’t forget to bring me something back,” she whispered. She let go abruptly and shouted, “There’s Brandon!” I took the distraction as my cue to leave. I watched Allie violate the rules and step off the sidewalk to greet Brandon (or whatever the hell his name is) as he exited his mini-van.

Allie and Brandon walked together toward the door. Then Allie paused for a second and looked back in my direction. She didn’t see me. That’s when she realized she lost track of Brandon and allowed the school building to gobble her up as she ran after him.

I wasn’t sad.


However I am glad I usually pick up.

Now here I sit in the Airport listening the guy on the P.A. lecture me about unattended baggage. He sounds remarkably like Bob Kevoian from the Bob and Tom Show.

I’m thinking about Debbie. I'm missing our anniversary (won't be the first time). Nine years ago, tomorrow, we got married. Our wedding day was a lot like this day (at least as far as the weather is concerned). Above average temperatures with the leaves on the trees just starting to show their true, brilliant colors all under a speckless, blue sky.

Despite their similarities, I know I’ll never have another October 19 like I did in 1996.

I remember how fresh everything felt. The entire day was a deep breath of clean, cool air. Yes, I was nervous at times, but that was only because I had to stand in front of most everyone I ever loved and cared about in rented clothing. That’s enough to unsettle anyone.

The getting married part; that was easy.

She was the one.

Still is.

Always will be.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

All dressed up and no place to go.

On Saturday, the women who taught my motorcycle safety course kept yelling at me. They weren't really yelling. After all I was wearing a helmet and seven other Buell motorcycles were revving their way around a training area. They didn't have a choice but to be loud. But between their volume and tone I started to feel as if I wasn't able to do anything right.

Then today, one of the women took me aside and said, "You're a better rider than you think you are. I should have told you that yesterday." She must have been right because I did better than anyone in the class on my skills test. I missed one question out of 50 on the written exam.

In retrospect I shouldn't have minded all the criticism. I was paying these people to tell me what I was doing wrong so I'll have a better chance of staying safe on the road. I dig encouragement and positive reinforcement as much as anyone, but this wasn't the place for me to get a shot in the arm.

I got my road test slip. All I need to do now is head on over the DMV and take their written test and I've got a license.

What good is a license if you don't have a motorcycle?

Not much.

But that's a topic we'll broach another time.

Now I've got a million things to do to get ready to leave for Ft. Worth. Allie may have strep and this is crucial time for Deb at work.

My head is clogged and I'm coughing. I need to gargle with Listerine to try and kill whatever bacteria Alllie gave to me over the past few days.

Oh. BOO HOO. If you're so sick and stressed why didn't you skip motorcycle class and work this weekend?


Now shut up and go buy me a motorcycle.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Word Nuts is Often Slang for Testes

This weekend I bought a jar of Nutella.

I’ve always been afraid of this product. It’s usually perched on the top shelf above the peanut butter and jelly at the grocery store. Typically there are only three or four jars on the shelf, so it’s apparent that Nutella isn’t among the most popular food items at our Pick & Save.

I took the lack of local consumer enthusiasm for this product as a clue that I was right about it tasting nasty. I always assumed Nutella would taste like bitter, chocolaty ass drippings. It would be another one of those flavors that requires years of childhood conditioning in Europe in order to be able to tolerate it, let alone appreciate it. Think Marmite. Plus, I’m not a huge chocolate fan so I always looked at Nutella as if each jar contained a dead fetus.

Then, when Deb and I were in Paris, I watched a guy making crepes in front of a café. These crepe stands are everywhere and some of the contraptions dedicated to making this popular street food are fascinating. Usually, they make the crepes on a huge round griddle that gets batter spread perfectly over its heated surface. After the batter cooks, it’s then expertly folded up like a cone with every ingredient you could imagine. From meat to fresh fruit, you could get a crepe with just about anything you wanted folded into it.

I noticed a lot of people getting their crepes stuffed with Nutella. And I do mean stuffed. The crepe-to-Nutella ratio seemed to be at least three to one and I watched these people walk around with dark brown Nutella smeared all over their faces. I’m assuming all of these people couldn’t be tourists so if Parisians, the most appearance aware population on the planet, didn’t mind getting their mugs seemingly poo-stained then I thought there must be something to this Nutella stuff.

I regret that I didn’t try one myself while we were in Pairs. So, five months later, I bought a jar. As soon as Deb and I put away the groceries I cracked it open and grabbed a spoon.

It is good.

Nutella is primarily hazelnut spread with some milk and cocoa. So while it tastes like chocolate there’s a very subtle, amaretto-like flavor lurking around in each bite. Maybe it’s not amaretto, but it certainly is nutty. Nut. Nutella. Anyway, this stuff was developed in Italy in order to help stretch out cocoa supplies that were being rationed during World War II. What that has to do with me getting over my fear of Nutella I’m not sure. But I thought it was interesting. I also compared nutritional values of Nutella to peanut butter and they are similar despite peanut butter having a lot more protein. Again, I don’t know what that has to do with me taking the Nutella plunge but I always want to provide you with just enough legitimate information to reward you for weeding through the rest of my bullshit.

I’d say the information-to-bullshit ratio is at least 12 to 1.

Allie and Julia love the stuff. I started dipping Teddy Grahams in the Nutella then I’d pop the little bears into their mouths. I fed them because no matter what the quantity is, chocolate always winds up outside their mouths. It’s amazing and this time was no exception. There’s nothing I can do; it must ooze out of their pores or something.

Deb refused to try the Nutella.

I was going to write something about Deb hating nuts. However I don’t think you’d let me get away with that especially when I’d have to confess to really being into nuts.

Yeah, I just love nuts.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Blame Game

This year's Firefighter Combat Challenge was in October rather than July. This meant the tent they usually fill with ice, fans, fresh fruit and case after case of bottled water wasn't there. 48 degree temperatures meant an oasis from the heat was unnecessary.

I was there for work again this year. One of the organizer's camera broke so I let him borrow mine. He got some really neat shots from the top of the tower. Head over to the flickr photostream and take a look at some of the photos he took.

In other news I've enrolled myself in the Rider's Edge course at our local Harley Davidson dealership. It's a gift from Deb in more ways than one. I'm foregoing the art classes she arranged for my birthday so I can take the motorcycle course. More significantly, however, was when she got sick of me waffling back and forth about whether or not to take the course. She became angry with me and said something to the effect that I wasn't going to blame her for not taking the course. I paraphrase because I remember there being swear words when she said it.

She's right. I would have blamed her.

So I'm taking the course.

And if I have a wreck and lose some skin I'm blaming her.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Story and Something More

Tonight, while I read Allie The Little Engine That Could I farted.

The smell of burning tires mixed with rotting squid at low tide hit Allie before it did me. I knew this because she threw her head back against her pillow and gasped for air. By the time she clamped her hands over her nose and mouth the smell reached me.

Poor girl.

She tried not to say anything because I think she wanted me to finish the story. This despite the fact I've read her this book many times. Finally I said, "I farted."

Allie looked at me and her eyes told me that at that moment she'd be willing to talk to an attorney about the ins and outs of becoming an emancipated minor. Then she buried her face into my neck.

I had just washed my face and it must have smelled of soap and Sea Breeze. It seemed to stop Allie from convulsing.

I waved the book around but nothing I did seemed to eliminate the smell. "Do you want me to leave?" I asked.

"No. Just stop farting," Allie said.

I finished the story in a hurry. By the time I reached the last, I thought I could I'm pretty sure Allie was convinced the tale wasn't worth what she had to endure.

I got up to turn off the light and heard a sigh of relief.

I don't really know why I'm having particularly stinky gas this evening. We went out for dinner at a place called Fat Jack's. I had some incredibly good ribs. Perfectly smoked; almost a shame to eat with any sauce at all. But they couldn't have kicked in so quickly.

It had to have been last night's fish sticks.

I went in to check on Allie just a few moments ago. I would almost swear I still detect a hint of my earlier transgression.

Tomorrow we'll get quote for new carpet in Allie's bedroom.

Je vais suer mon âne au loin.

Yesterday I didn't bathe.

I don't know if I have a good excuse.

I cleaned the garage.

Actually I just moved everything up against the walls so that I won't need to move the car out of the garage to get to the snowblower this winter. Now there are a few extra hooks in the walls with bicycles hanging on them. I should have taken more time with this aspect of the clean-up. Other people's bikes on their garage walls almost look like perfectly hung works of art. When you see our garage it looks as if we dipped our bikes in some kind of epoxy and threw them against the walls.

Allie and I rubbed the bugs off the front of Deb's car.

This was a long process and we still didn't get them all. As I was cleaning the little carcasses off the front of the Vibe I was thinking that if I were splattered and dried on the bumper of someone's car I would want to be very difficult to remove. I guess these bugs made their mark. Although I hate to think of a little bug asking in Gump-like fashion, "What's my destiny, Momma?"

Allie and I played hockey.

We had a lot more room in the garage so we shuffled a tennis ball back and forth. I'm working on Allie's slapshot. She's got skills. If I get her a right-sized stick we may be talking scholarship potential. Only she can't skate. Neither can I. We're talking about lessons starting in November. I should take them with her. I doubt if they'll let me in the class. At some point I'm almost certain to fall on one of the kids and I can't see anyone surviving that.

Deb made fishsticks and french fries.

I don't know why that has anything to do with me not taking a shower, but somehow it seems significant.

Last night I thought about going another day without a shower. Some kind of experiment so I'd feel French or something. When I woke up this morning, about seven, I immediately hopped into the shower. I guess if I want to feel more French I'll have to wear a scarf and overcoat when I finally go out this afternoon.

It's going to hit 85 degrees this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

That Didn't Take Long

I heard from Aveda regarding my attempt to get some free stuff for telling you how great their shave gel is.

The free stuff wasn’t my only motivation. I truly think this gel is a better alternative to regular shaving cream and wanted to let you know about it. Regardless, here’s what Myrriah, from Aveda wrote:

Dear Greg,

Thank you for visiting the Aveda website.

Although we appreciate your kind comments regarding Rosemary Mint Shave Gel, we do not provide gifts for customer comments, rather positive or negative. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause you.

Please do not hesitate to contact us again should you need further assistance.

For a greener planet,

Aveda Web Relations

I am disappointed. . . Of course I’m disappointed. In fact; I’m freakin’ devastated. But after my recent G4 boon I should count my blessings and move on. And to prove that there are no hard feelings I’ll avoid pointing out the fact that I think Myrriah may have wanted to use the word either instead of rather but that’s neither here nor there. After all I’m certain Myrriah responds to calculated, mercenary bloggers like me in several different languages each day while I can barely manage my own monolinguality.

I just can’t help but picture everyone who works at Aveda walking around corporate headquarters in remarkably similar, flowing, white tunics. They all speak to one another in hushed tones while gently smiling and nodding a lot. There’s soothing, new age electronica softly playing everywhere and the scent of freshly pressed homeopathic herbs wafts throughout the entire building.

Holy cow. I wasn’t that far off. Check out this link.

Considering how serene a company I imagine Aveda to be it would feel rude to suggest they could have at least sent a coupon. That aside, I should mention I do feel badly that I bashed Procter & Gamble a little while bolstering Aveda’s product. This is especially true when I know Procter & Gamble would have at least sent me a coupon if I had said something as equally positive about Gillette Skin Care Products.

Now I’m starting to get a wee bit pissed.

Horst M. Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda is Austrian. Now I can understand why his sensibilities wouldn’t jibe with my American, lottery winning, something for nothing (or at least very little) mind set. But the guy’s bio says he lives in Wisconsin and New York.

I live in Wisconsin.

I’ve been to New York.

I've eaten Vienna sausages.

I make bazillions of dollars by selling Rosemary Mint Shaving Gel with a 500% margin to an easily duped, hype-gulping, brand-addicted consumer base.

Okay; strike that last one - but I would have sent a coupon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rosemary Mint Shaving Gel

If you need to shave every other day like me, or every 30 minutes like my friend Dwayne, then you need to get a tube of this crap from Aveda.
I’m not making money by pitching this gel. I’m just letting you know I’ve discovered an easier way to do something that is a genuine pain-in-the-ass for a lot of men. Women, too. So if you ladies want to give your legs, pits and (for some of you) upper lips a break then read on.

I like the Aveda Rosemary Mint shampoo that the lady who cuts my hair uses. So one day I went into a shop where they sold nothing but Aveda products to buy more shampoo. This shaving gel was right next to the shampoo so I decided to give it a try.

Here’s the deal: I’ve been using Edge for years. It worked okay but even though it comes out of the can like a gel, it’s still basically soap. The blade of my razor still caught on some of my more robust whiskers and dried-out patches of skin. I winced. I cursed. I bled.

Then I tried the Aveda Rosemary Mint Shaving Gel. It’s a little weird at first because there’s no foam. But my razor glided across my face effortlessly. The shave was close and my skin wasn’t irritated or dried out as it sometimes was after using Edge.

Face it (heh), the only reason you’re using shaving cream is because your dad did. And that because S.C. Johnson and Procter & Gamble convinced his dad their products were the way to go. Back in the 30’s Gillette might have been state-of-the-art shaving gear. It’s not anymore.

You can buy the shaving Gel for $12.50 online ( But I got it for $9.50 at the Aveda store.

Remember. I’m not being compensated for becoming a shill for this wonderful goop. But I’m working on it. I’ll let you know how things work out.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Let me read what you wrote. . .

I didn't write anything, Debbie.

She assumed that because I've been on the computer I wrote something. All I was doing was Googling for an explanation for why our Bose Sounddock crackels and hisses whenever we dock the iPod. I wasn't writing anything. I barely have the ambition to sit upright let alone tap on the keyboard.

I'm tired. I have band-aids over the holes my tennis shoes made in the back of my heels. I caught a cold in Orlando and it's reaching it's crescendo now that I'm home. I'm still grumpy because I got lost on the way home from the airport.

The girls are sitting on the bed looking at old pictures. It's raining outside and there aren't too many things for them to do other than follow us around in the hope that we will do something - anything - interesting.

Allie just walked over and held a picture up to my face. "My butt," she said as she pointed to an image of her bare bottom we took when she just learned to walk. "I have a rock star butt," she said.


It's almost 11:00 a.m. and I still haven't showered. This isn't uncommon for a Sunday, but today it seems to be more of a symptom than a choice.

Right now I'm staring at Debbie's feet. That's the kind of ennui that drives people to violence. In fact, Julia just bent over and quietly bit Allie on the shoulder. Allie screamed and Deb put Julia to bed as punishment. Now Deb is applying ice to Allie's wound.

Suddenly it's quiet.

Now I'm watching Deb try to breathe through her clogged sinuses. She just told me to stop scowling at her. I wasn't aware I was scowling.

If she was any closer, I'd quietly bite her on the shoulder.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Disappointed and Relieved

I don't have a lot to write about regarding this trip to Orlando. So far the only barely interesting things have been I packed two left shoes and ripped the crotch out of my pants.

I packed another pair of shoes, so I'm okay in that department (mismatched, but okay). And ripping the crotch out of my pants usually wouldn't be a big deal but I'm standing in front of people holding a microphone each day. This means the potential for people to notice my crotch might be higher than normal.

Fortunately my blowout occurred at the end of the day yesterday so the only people who noticed were my co-workers and I didn't mind if they knew my dangly bits were dangerously close to being exposed.

The best part of my day is when I get to call Debbie.

More later. . .

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sleeping in Airports

Thursday we left Julia with a baby sitter and Deb, Allie and I went out to dinner. Allie bellied-up to the bar and had a kiddy cocktail with an enormous straw and a paper umbrella. She took the umbrella to show-and-tell on Friday. I wonder what the kindergarten teacher must have thought.

Sun Jin (I'm sure that's not the corrected spelling but that's what her name sounded like) was our bartender. She was from Korea. It's amazing the things you find out about strangers when you're with a five-year old. If your kid likes you, then you must be a fairly good egg and therefore a person sometimes decides to share a little bit about his/her personal history. It's one of the perks of hanging with Allie.

Raul was from Acapulco. He was our Japanese hibachi chef. I can't remember the last time I had a chef of Asian descent at one of these restaurants. I have no issues. As long as he/she can juggle pepper grinders, create a flaming volcano fashioned from inverted onion rings and fling shrimp tails; I'm happy. Plus, the woman next to us kept speaking to Raul in Spanish which made the cultural potpourri all the more potent and fun.

I didn't really need much to have a good time, though. I loved being out on the town with Deb and Allie. The food was great and I'd polished off two very large bottles of Asahi beer. I don't drink much. So these two big bottles were enough to make me feel really good about the fact that my gut was about burst. It was a good kind of suffering.

I'm glad I had a great birthday week because next week isn't going to be much fun.

I'm typing this from the bedroom. The old G3 was far too cantankerous to handle OSX so I decided to put it out to pasture. I found a great deal on a newer G3 that I hoped would play nice with OSX. Unfortunately the company didn't want to ship that computer so I canceled my order. I still haven't heard from Surplus Computers so who knows, in about a month I might get another box. I hope not because I found an even better deal from a company called PC Exchange.

They sent me an email and told me that they were out of the G3's they advertised. They wondered if it would be okay if they sent me a G4 instead.


I'm writing to you on our new G4. Our new, sub-$100 G4.

Yeah, I feel fortunate. But I know I'll pay. Next week I'll be writing to you from the floor of the airport I'm stranded in. That's the way my luck seems to go.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Nobody Likes Bobcat Urine

If God made you he's in love with me.

Sweet jesus!

This has got to be the worst lyric I've ever heard. Match this with some truly awful music and you have Five for Fighting's latest single, If God Made You.

I first heard this song while I was listening to the middle-of-the-road FM station they pipe into the restroom where I work.

I was assaulted by this music while on the toilet.

I've been afraid to go to the bathroom all week. I may never be the same.

If you haven't heard this song then you are among the lucky. If you would like to punish yourself, here's a link to's page for the group's latest album. Scroll down and you can listen to a sample of this song.

While I sat on the toilet I kept thinking the song was some kind of joke or an experiment. Like the kind of experimental music people used to make me listen to in college. You know, a cassette recording of a guy moaning the ingredients of a chicken hot dog for five minutes while someone beats the shit out of a garbage can lid all while holding a single finger at middle C on their Casio MT-70 keyboard.

If God Made You sucks even more than that.

You should know, I'm very tolerant of all kinds of music. I've Polka'd for Pete's sake. But this song is the limit for anyone.

What do I do? How do I save the world from this nightmare?

I can start small. Spread the word on the street that listening to this music could possibly lead to low, birth-weight babies.

This shit is poison. If you hear it, drop to your knees, pull out your iPod, shove in your earbuds and listen to anything by Elvis Costello or, for a more contemporary cleansing, Hot, Hot, Heat.

I blame the meida moguls. How could Clear Channel let this happen? Even these arbiters of mediocre music should know life is far too short to subject a large chunk of the population to crap like this via heavy rotation.

I plan to find Five for Fighting's latest CD in every music store in my county. I'll spray the CD's with a small amount of predator urine. If a little squirt of bobcat piss is all it takes to save some unsuspecting music lover from this song then I'm willing to risk prosecution.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


This week we all took our lunch at least twice. Everyone except Julia, that is. So far it's been ham or bologna sandwiches, grapes, string cheese, snack cakes, Doritos and carrots. Lots and lots of carrots.

A shit load of carrots.

Allie and I have the cool lunch kits. Debbie has a paper bag.

I offered to go and buy Deb everything she needs to tote her lunch. She seems to be happy with the bag. I had something more like this in mind:

Deb's not interested.


On Friday Allie got off the bus and walked to daycare entirely on her own.

Now that she's able to handle the bus we can turn our attention to more important matters, like this group of cows we stopped to talk with last night.

One of the more peculiar aspects of living in Wisconsin is our compulsion to moo every time we see a group of cows. Occasionally, we pull over and start mooing until they notice.

Last night we got this group's attention. They seemed a little pissed off. No. They were pissed. You could feel it. They were glaring at us. Really. So I grabbed my phone and snapped a shot of them. I wanted photo evidence in case they decided to storm the electric fence, tear apart the car and stomp on us until we looked like some of their relatives after a trip to the rendering plant.

All we wanted to do was say hello. Look at the photo. If cows participated in rumbles, this is what the start of it would look like. There wasn't any reason for them to be so hostile.

Suddenly I'm craving a hamburger for lunch today.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Her Permanent Record Starts Today

I do three things when I'm nervous.

Stage One: Coughing. It's a response to the slight tickle in my throat. I walk around sounding as if I were cleaning chalkboard erasers.
Stage Two: Gagging. Largely a result of the coughing. The tickle gets more intense and I start subtly retching every now and again.
Stage Three: Diarrhea. The butterflies in my stomach not only make me nauseous, but they churn whatever happens to be in my G.I. tract into pure liquid angst.

This morning I was at stage three. I sat on the floor in the closet and tried to figure out why Allie's first day at school was causing me to do things like sit on the floor in the closet. I thought about when we sent Allie to daycare for the first time. I didn't react well to that transition either.

It doesn't take me long to adjust. [You can click on the photos for a much larger image.]

Nothing is ever as bad nor is it ever as good as it seems.

I hate thinking like this but somehow these words got into my head and (more times than not) they do seem to be true. In this case, Deb wrote me an email and I immediately began to chill the hell out.

Here's part of what Deb wrote about Allie's morning:

She did fine. She was so happy and talkative when we first got there--we met up with Chris and Rochelle and their girls. She was practically hopping continuously.

We waited what seemed like a long time to make sure all the kids were there and the other lines of kindergarteners went in. Allie started leaning on me. She said she didn't know what she would do first.

I said she should take off her backpack, and that Mrs. Grady would tell her what to do, that she just needed to listen to Mrs. Grady.

As they walked in, she started to get that crumpled face thing going on but I don't think she actually started crying. She's going to be just fine.

Tomorrow should be better. I took some pictures. She's growing up, honey.

Love, Debbie

Wanna see what she had for lunch?

I took part of the afternoon off to meet Allie at her bus stop. I got there more than half an hour early. Part of the time I waited with another parent. She told me she was the chairperson of the group that put on the ice cream social last week. I don't remember if I seemed appreciative. I probably alienated her. But I was focused on other matters. Like the four buses that zoomed around our corner simultaneously.

Fortunately Allie had her face pressed against the window and when her bus stopped I immediately knew it was hers.

We walked to daycare. Allie moaned part of the way and asked me to carry her. She was tired. I refused. I even made her carry her back pack. "I won't be here tomorrow so you need to get used to carrying your things," I told her. I felt like a shitheel. I knew one day wasn't going to toughen her up enough to make a difference. But I thought I should at least clue her in to what she would be in for each day.

She had art class and music. She met a friend and doesn't seem to remember how to pronounce her name (but I'm positive she'll have it down by tomorrow). She didn't get to sleep during nap time and this pissed her off. She had chocolate milk with lunch. She played a game she made up with a girl she knew from tumbling class called, Run Around the Playground Real Fast or something like that.

Tomorrow will be just as much fun as today for Allie. Tomorrow will probably be easier for both Deb and I. Tomorrow might not even merit a mention here. Tomorrow comes way too fast.

By the way, Karina said that Julia never asked for her sister once at daycare.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Labor Day Weekend

originally uploaded by gnureg.
Everyone had a great time up north with Grandma & Grandpa Leege. You can check out some of the photos on the Flickr Photostream if you're interested.

Deb's idea to hit the Bay Beach Amusement Park was inspired. It took two ¢25 tickets for attractions like The Scrambler or The Tilt-a-Wirl. Allie giggled the entire time we were on The Scrambler and screamed non-stop while we were on the Tilt-a-Wirl. Auntie Cat bought T-shirts and Grandpa treated everyone to lunch.

This amusement park has changed a little since the days when people would rent bathing suits for a dime. You can't really swim in the bay anymore and if people could I'm pretty sure they'd bring their own suits. But there aren't too many places left that our family can have loads of fun and leave without my wallet being at least $30 lighter than before we walked through the gate.

I drove Cat and Mike's new Corvette. I went for a ten mile bike ride along Lake Michigan with Glenn. I got an early birthday song and cake combo. We made a half-assed attempt at building a sand castle. We ate baked beans.

Yeah, I had a good time. But so did the girls. It was a nice last fling before Allie starts school.

I know. It's not like we're shipping her off to boarding school and I'm sure once she starts it'll be no big deal.

Yeah, right.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

No Calls Before 11:00 a.m.

Last night we took Allie to an Ice Cream Social at her new school. We walked around the school and eventually wound up in Allie's new classroom. Her teacher, Ms. Grady, was there greeting her new students. Ms. Grady had studied the photos that were taken of Allie when she went to Kindergarten warm-up earlier in the year and knew who Allie was when she walked through the door. Allie blurted out something about her sister loving to play in a jumpy (there was one full of bouncing children outside the window of her classroom). It was a nice effort to break the ice. I was proud.

By the way, Ms. Grady is a lot better looking than her official Web site photo. Some of the guys I work with have kids at this school and, creepy or not, we're all in agreement regarding this point.

Deb, Allie, Julia and I did a scavenger hunt that told us where to deposit Allie's school supplies. At each drop point we would encounter an Allie's name printed in perfect, D'Nealian, Kindergarten teacher, handwriting. One where she hangs her jacket. One where she sits. One for Allie's "mailbox". Another that marks what Allie's job will be for that week. Her fist week, Allie is in charge of recording the temperature (beats the crap out of sleeping mat helper, I think).

Julia was busy with a toy cash register and pushing a fairly mangled dolly around in a wooden cart.

We wandered around the school. Ran into some people we knew. Eventually we made our way to the cafeteria/gym and grabbed bowls of ice cream. We sat down next to a couple who really weren't interested in becoming school kid parent buddies. I made a glancing attempt at small talk which they quickly dissolved. So we sat there and ate our ice cream while they discussed the results of some reality TV show that were to be announced that evening.

After ice cream the four of us leaked out on to the playground. Allie looked a little bewildered among all the kids. After a while I found her crying. She panicked because she couldn't find us. Then when we made motions to leave she started crying again because she didn't get to spend as much time at school as she would have liked. All the other kids stared and pointed at Allie.

Okay; there was no staring or pointing. But I felt bad she cried.

So we went back this evening for a one-on-one meeting with Ms. Grady.

Kindergarten is complicated.

I could go into detail, but this post would become very, very long. I think we do feel a little better about Allie getting on the bus. And we established some goals. Chief among them is to have Allie reading by the end of the school year. Ms. Grady doesn't think that will be a problem at all.

What were Allie's goals? She wants to learn about body parts because she wants to be a doctor and she wants to learn to read. Ms. Grady said people will call her Doctor Allie. Allie seemed to like that idea.

At the end of the forty minute meeting Allie got a T-shirt and a bag from Ms. Grady. The bag contained various objects and a note explained the significance of each object (a lifesaver so you'll know you can always come and talk to me, a star so you'll always remember to shine brightly, stuff like that). It was too cute for words.

Allie's excited. Deb and I are sad, nervous and excited. Julia doesn't give a shit. She should though. Before this evening, Deb and I hadn't really considered the effect school is going to have when Allie is no longer with Julia for most of the day. It's going to be an adjustment.

School starts Tuesday. I'm sure by 11:00 a.m. Deb and I will be able to talk about it without getting choked up.

Please don't call us before then.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Odds Are

Last night the girls and I went grocery shopping.

Every time I reached for something off the metal shelves I got a shock. Not just a little spark, but those loud, sharp pops that feel like industrial rubber bands being snapped against your flesh by thick-fingered, Olympic weight lifters.

The second time it happened, we were standing next to this big, burly guy. I reached for some fruit cups and SNAP!

“Jesus Christ!” I yelled. I know I shouldn’t blaspheme, but the current must have traveled straight to my brain. That’s probably the same reason I turned to burly guy and said, “I almost wet my pants on that one.”

Burly guy heard this and looked at me as if I was wearing a pretty blue bonnet and ruffled petticoats. I can’t say that I blame him. Little girls wet their pants. Men are incapable of leaking urine even in the face of the most horrifying of circumstances. But there I was volunteering that a small static charge almost got the best of my bladder (actually, it hadn’t, but I was trying to be amusing which is something I really shouldn’t do in public anymore).

We wheeled away from burly guy in a hurry after that. But I continued to get shocked. I even stopped and looked around for cameras thinking I was on a Japanese game show. I didn’t see any cameras so I started picking things off the shelves as if I was playing Operation (take out olives, take out cinnamon, etc.). I found myself being drawn to products packaged in non-conductive materials. I’ll buy canned-goods the next time I’m at the store wearing a grounding wire.

Now that I think about it, I don’t even know why I have to do the shopping. I want to hire someone to stock our larder. I remember looking at some notes John Lennon wrote to his personal assistant that were being auctioned off by Christies. I could see John sitting at the kitchen table first thing in the morning thinking, “I’d like some fresh blueberries.” Then he’d pick up a pen and write, “Please pick up a quart of really sweet blueberries and find me some nice socks.” He’d hand the note to his assistant and before he knew it he would be eating blueberries and sitting around in a pair of nice new socks.

It takes money to pull off that trick. But I have a plan.

The lottery.

I know I’m not going about winning the lottery the right way. I usually buy a ticket every other month and when I do I always let the machines choose my numbers. According to the Powerball Web site (my personal game of choice) my odds of winning are 1 in 146,107,962.

This newfound Vegas mentality got me thinking about odds. Somehow I knew that I have a better chance of being killed by a moose in my own living room than of winning Powerball. I wanted to confirm this so I went to the National Safety Council’s Web site to see what my lifetime odds are of dying by whatever means were. I started small and looked at being bitten or stung by nonvenomous insect and other arthropod. Turns out I’ve got a 1 in 286,537 chance that I will be in the wrong place at the wrong time when a rogue cockroach decides to see just what it would take to bring a human down. Change the cockroach to a hornet or a bee and my odds increase to 1 in 68,981.

Because I’m not sure if I’m allergic to bees and the only cockroach I’ve ever feared lives (lived) down in New Orleans I thought I should examine something a little more germane. Like shoveling snow - Pay attention, Debbie because overexertion brings with it 1 opportunity in 29,101 for me to expire. Winter is coming and I want you to have these statistics in mind the next time I reach for the snow shovel before you do. The more I shovel, the more likely it will be you’ll have to do it on a permanent basis (or at least until the girls are big enough to take care of it). You think about that. . .

1 in 29,101. That number was still too big to have much impact. I needed to make these statistics a little more real so I looked for the lowest number on the chart associated with a specific cause. It was 212. I have a 1 in 212 chance of dying via accidental poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances.

When I think of all the diapers I’ve changed and all the ones I’m going to change, my blood runs cold.

212. That’s about the capacity of a movie theater. If death was an usher she’d have to walk up and down the aisles, choose a row, then a seat before she found me and made me leave before the end of the movie (where was she when I went to see Blair Witch Project?). Sure, I’d be a little nervous watching her comb the audience, but I still feel that I would have pretty good odds of surviving the death usher scenario.

So, if I apply lottery numbers to the death usher example, death would have to go through 689,189 theaters (212 seats per theater) to find me.

Why in the hell would I think I could ever win the lottery?

Because I’m a huge pessimist, that’s why.

I just know death will want to go see Batman Begins when it hits the second run theater market. She’ll sit down beside me and see me eating Dots with my popcorn. After about five minutes of me chewing next to her she won’t be able to take it anymore and reap me. When they empty out my pockets, that’s when they’ll find the winning Powerball ticket.

Just my luck.

By the way, the odds of being killed by that Moose (not necessarily in my living room): 1 in 49,665.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Best Day of Fun Ever

Why is it that every time I go to a sporting event I sit in front of a person who insists on shattering my eardrums with their clapping? It's as if they've learned some secret technique developed by the Pentagon to assault enemies with a simple hand clap.

This time we were clapped toward deafness at a Brewer's game. Our ears weren't quite bleeding but this guy truly had high decibel clapping skills. Plus, he was completely in love with the sound of his own voice. He talked. A lot. He even made some comment to his kids about not embarrassing him by clapping so loudly (he must have noticed Deb and I wincing each time he brought his hands together near our skulls). Knowing he was causing us pain seem to please him.

But I'm being negative. I shouldn't be negative. Aside from the audible assault it really was a perfect day. Easy in and out of the ballpark. Beautiful weather. Well-behaved children. Allie had cotton candy for the first time and as she ate it she told us she was having, ". . .the best day of fun ever." After a few handfuls of cotton candy and a big chunk of licorice rope she probably would have told us the same thing if we had thrown her down a mine shaft with an open crate of rabid bats.

She rode the sugar rush almost all the way home.


I saw Jon last week. We had lunch together with other people from work. He had the bison burger and was a little intimidated by the size of our waitress's arms. Probably more like turned on by the size of her arms (I know I was), but that's beside the point. I like it when Jon stops by to see us. I wish he was able to do it more often despite the fact he chastised me for posting photos of Julia's offal.

I've been waiting to use the word offal for weeks. It feels like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders.


Fuzzy Sara is dead. Please don't ask me how she died. I would have no choice but to implicate myself. I'm sure she could have contracted some weird hamster virus, but I'm sure the month's worth of fecal matter in her cage and a less than consistent feeding schedule might have been contributing factors.

Jon, I was tempted to grab my camera when I found Fuzzy Sara's body. But then I heard your voice and I let her rest in peace.

It's very late. 2:00 a.m. I should be sleeping. But I can't sleep. I've got a case of the willies.

I can't help but feel as if I'm being watched.

Watched by students.

Watched by students somewhere in Texas.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Smoosh

Last night, there was a group of kids hanging out in the street in front of our house. They were loud, awkward and loopy like most 12 to 14 year-olds usually are.

As Deb and I buttoned up the downstairs and headed upstairs to bed I stopped. I stood in the dark and watched the group of kids shuffle around on their skateboards being loud, awkward and loopy. Then I noticed one of the reasons they were being so loud.

A bunny was running around in circles in the middle of the road. I watched the bunny as it careened off the ankles of the kids hanging out around my house (and now I know if there actually was a Trix Rabbit the children wouldn’t try to get their cereal back, they’d just shriek and run away only to come back every now and again to try to poke the rabbit with a stick).

I lost interest in the kids pretty quickly after that. You see, the rabbit wasn’t an adult. It was small. In fact, it might be about the same size as the rabbits born in my backyard a few weeks ago.

Oh no.

It was the bunny I planted in the ground with my sneaker last June.

It had to be.

You may remember back on June 28th. . . Okay, you probably don’t remember but I wrote about how I accidentally stuffed a baby bunny’s head into the turf. I described how its little legs floundered around in the air before I finally got around to plucking it out of the soil. It was bleeding from the nose. I didn’t think it was going to make it. But I put it back into its nest and was relieved to discover it some how survived.

It survived with BRAIN DAMAGE!

There’s a developmentally disabled rabbit wandering our neighborhood and it’s my fault. I thought about making it a little hockey helmet it could wear to protect its already damaged noggin’. After all, the rabbit wouldn’t be difficult to catch because all it does is run in circles. But that didn’t seem appropriate.

This morning as I pulled out of the driveway I half expected to see Ricky (that’s what I named the rabbit) still tearing around the street making furious loops that went no where fast.

He wasn’t there.

But I did pass a tiny, short yellow bus, the size of a breadbox, as I pulled out of the neighborhood.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

More Chlorine, Please

Greg: Hold on, I'll get Julia a swim diaper.

Nana: She doesn't need a swim diaper.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Tornado Footage

Click the multimedia button and click Tornado. The quality isn't the best. I used the little Canon Powershot to shoot these clips. We're extremely grateful that our friends are alive. We're lucky the funnel stayed away from us.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Subtle Changes

You no longer need a password to see movies.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Meet Ms. Grady

This is Allie's Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Grady.

She looks very nice. We got her picture off the school Web site after she sent Allie a letter today. Here's what the letter said:

Dear Alexandra,

My name is Ms. Grady and I'll be your teacher this year. There are a few things that I want to make clear before you step foot into my classroom so please read this letter carefully.

First of all, I hope your parents like pizza because you're going to have to sell a lot of them this year. It seems that Ms. Grady didn't do so well at her first stab at online poker and therefore I'll be relying on your fundraising efforts to catch up on a few mortgage payments.

I have a lot of rules. Have your mom or dad look up OCD on the Internet and that might help explain things like why I'll be asking you to screw the cap on your glue stick on and off three times before you put it away each day. And you'll be washing your hands a lot. I mean all the time.

One item that didn't make it on to your school supplies list that you will need for my class is a black, hooded robe. Once a month, we'll be taking a trip behind the school to sacrifice a small woodland creature to the dark lords. Hopefully all six ceremonies will go well so that you, or one of you classmates, will be able to participate in our final rite in a very, very special way.

Finally, our classroom is a lot like Vegas; what happens in Ms. Grady's class, stays in Ms. Grady's class.

Got it?

Ms. Grady

Okay. While that may not be the actual letter Ms. Grady wrote to Allie (and she did write a nice letter introducing herself to her students) that is really what she looks like.

Allie is as excited as she has ever been now that she knows what her teacher looks like.

We bought her school supplies this weekend. These are her gym shoes:

They look a little funny because Julia is wearing them instead of Allie, but you get the idea.

What do you think, Grandma Judy?

Heh. Heh.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Endearing Disfigurement

They're supposed to be safe. Blunt-tip. Safer cutting angle. Shorter blades. Human flesh detecting auto locks.

Uh, oh. . .

Guess they didn't have time to engineer that last one into the design before they unleashed kid friendly scissors on to the market.

It's really not the scissors fault. They did what they're supposed to do. And Jaden, the kid who tried to disassemble Julia, used them the way they were supposed to be used. Sort of.

Truth is, Jaden just wanted to give Julia a haircut. He didn't know Julia's Nana had already trimmed her bangs last weekend or he thought Nana did a crappy job. Regardless, Jaden went to work.

How'd he get hold of his weapon? The kids happened to be working on an art project and there happened to be a pair of kiddy scissors lying on a table and before Karina had a chance to notice, Jaden had already performed his Sweeney Todd impression on Julia's ear.

Deb was out of town so I got the call from Karina. Poor woman. She was very upset. I left work and took Julia to see Dr. Tom. Deb made it back in time to come to Dr. Tom's office where we were told it was just a superficial cut and didn't require any sort of treatment at all (that'll be $110 please, thanks for dropping by).

Julia's is fine, Karina feels better, Deb and I are relieved and I'm guessing Jaden isn't allowed within seven feet of anything with an edge on it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Another Movie

Waterfight 2005.

Enter the password and click on multimedia.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Easter Movie

Yeah, it took four months. You can't rush art. Everybody knows that. . .

Enter the password, click multimedia, choose Easter. Not a lot of work for oh so much entertainment!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Our Whole Family Wears Buckets

I'm wearing one right now, as I type.

The shirtless kid isn't ours. That didn't stop him from wearing a bucket.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Your 2006 Summer Vacation Plans

Allie and I went for a walk last night. Despite the 92 – 96 degree temperatures we walked, hand-in-hand, around the neighborhood. We decided to walk through the woods. Allie calls it a forest. She says it sounds better. I agree.

In the thick of the forest we were attacked by mosquitoes and other insects. Allie wasn’t as freaked as I anticipated. I think she’s getting better about not losing it whenever a bug comes near her. However, she did perform quite the screaming jig when a bumble bee buzzed her legs. I can’t say that I blame her.

We encountered a couple of our neighbors during our walk. “We’re going for a walk,” Allie said. “We’re enjoying the beautiful evening,” she added. The neighbors smiled at the cute girl and her sweaty father because it was a beautiful evening. What they probably weren’t thinking, as the chatty little girl in the floral skirt walked by, was how fleeting the moment was. That’s what I was thinking. After all, how many more nights like this would I have with my daughter? It won’t be long before there will be little or no allure in something as mundane as taking a stroll with her father. But for now, our walk seemed to be one of the highlights of Allie’s day. It certainly was the highlight of mine.

I tried to soak it in. I tried to etch it into my brain. I know I’ll need memories like this to help close the tiny wounds that will accumulate as my girls struggle to become something much more than their father’s daughters.

Hold on. I’m not as maudlin as I make out. We had an entire weekend filled with great memories. We spent a lot of the time in Water Park Town (as Allie refers to the Wisconsin Dells). Allie and I had fun shooting down the water slides while Debbie hung back with Julia near the kiddy pools. Fortunately, none of us were completely consigned to kiddy pool duty. Claudette, Pam and Jeff were there too and we all took turns hanging with the shorty so that everyone had the opportunity to experience some of the more thrilling attractions.

The Black Anaconda rocks, by the way. Just ask Debbie.

I can’t speak for the group, but I had fun. Deb’s sisters and Jeff crave fun and seek adventure. I’m not saying that the wave pool at Noah’s Ark is the height of adventure, but at least these people are game for it. Their willingness to brave high temps, long lines and occasionally cranky toddlers made for a nice weekend away. I loved floating down the lazy river. All seven of us hooked together drifting in the cool water beneath the hot sun occasionally giggling at or splashing one another.

Of course it wasn’t all peaches and Jell-O. Fortunately cranky kids, minor inconveniences and a bee sting all seem to fade while evening strolls along Broadway, warm conversations, roller coasters, saltwater taffy and lumberjack breakfasts take precedence in our memories.

Next time we want you to be there with us.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Kill the Banner

If you're here via then you may be seeing a banner at the bottom of the page.

Go to:

Unfortunately you'll need to cut and past, but the banner should disappear. isn't so bad. They just want too much money. $35 for domain name registration and $49 to forward the URL annually. wanted $7.95 to register the domain and $13 to maintain a little privacy each year (whois). The URL forwarding (minus a banner) is free.

That's over $63 a year in savings.

Hopefully by the time you read this the banner is gone. If it's not, just point your browser to the link above.

Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bad Ass Grass Master II

The one on the left is the new mower. The old one (on the right) sounds like hot, metal death every time I try to get it to self-propel.

I'm the one responsible for the tiny push that sent the original Bad Ass Grass Master out to pasture (and what a well groomed pasture it will be). It was time to get a new mower anyway, but I took apart the axle to try to get both wheels to engage. The end of the axle was a lost cause and I'm sure it would have been at least another $150+ to set things right.

Did I mention a spring popped out when I examined the axle? I'm sure I said something about the awful grinding noise.

Anyway, it was my tinkering that sealed the deal.

Sometimes I get lucky. Sometimes I get hot metal death.

I've been pricing mowers for the past few weeks. I knew the local hardware store had the mower we needed at a reasonable price. I went in and checked it out. After I took a look I went to the registers to buy Allie a piece of candy. That's where I ran into the neighbor kid.

First of all, I was shocked as hell that the little kid a couple doors down is now old enough to do join me in a microeconomic exercise. Secondly, I felt bad I couldn't remember the kid's name.

He knew me, though. He asked me, "What're you out doing today?"

"Shopping for a new mower. I'm going to head into town and do a little more shopping"

"Oh yeah? Well if you come back, ask for M---. I can get you a 20% discount."

"I might do that."

I did do that. I came back and went around looking for M---. I found him, but not before the store manager found me. The store manager wanted to sell me the mower. I told him I wanted M--- and his 20% to help me (but I left out the 20% part). Finally the manager insisted that he help me. That's when I spilled the beans about the 20%.

By the time M--- showed up I was certain I was going to get the poor kid fired, or at least made an example at next week's employee meeting. So I went ahead and bought the new mower without the promised 20%.

The manager still wanted to help me. I was rude and waved him off, "M--- can take care of me." After all, he cost me my 20% and I already had a mental picture of me running him over with the new Bad Ass Grass Master.

As we loaded the mower into my car M--- apologized. "That was very unprofessional of me," he said. Poor kid. I told him I hoped I didn't get him into any hot water and he assured me I had not.

By the way, the new mower rocks. It would have rocked even more at 20% less, but that's now water under the bridge.

For the most part.

I'd still like to see what the Bad Ass Grass Master II would do to M---'s manager's shoes.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Quite a Buffet of Fireworks

That’s how Allie described things last night. “That was quite a buffet of fireworks, Dad. It was a fiesta of fireworks! I love the fourth of July,” she said.

I didn’t want to take her.

It had been raining all day and the thought of fighting the crowds as I trudged through fairground mud with a 5-year old perched on my shoulders didn’t appeal to me. After all, we had spent two nights camping in the backyard, set off $80 worth of our own fireworks, hit the carnival at the Junior Fair, watched two hours worth of kids’ movies in the basement and spent a good amount of quality time with one another this holiday weekend. Whatever bonding that might occur beyond this felt as if it had the potential to create some strange interdependence that would spur some rare form of autism.

We went to see the fireworks.

Allie and I had a long walk to get to the park where all the locals congregate for the best view of the display. By the time we got to the park Allie had already collected a fake purple flower that glowed with the help of a small LED connected to two AA batteries. I was happy to buy her the flower as I believed it might make us more visible to the steady stream of cars trying to get to the same place we were headed.

We stood in the park and noticed we were the only people not wise enough to have brought a blanket or a lawn chair. Allie and I found a tree with roots big enough to save us from the wet ground if we sat on them. That’s where we waited for the show to begin.

When the first shell exploded we knew we were in the right place. We left the shelter of the tree and stood in the middle of the park, hand-in-hand, watching the bursts of bright colors and feeling the great booms in the center of our chests. While I was busy with the traditional oooos and ahhhhs, Allie was grunting like a wolf-child. Then she started to shout, “I love American! I love American!” I started to giggle at her as she jumped up and down and continued with her grunting.

Then she started to talk during the brief lulls between explosions. It wasn’t really talking, it was more like screaming. “You know what I want, baby. Give it to me! Give it to me, baby!” She yelled this stuff over and over again. Then a shell would burst and she would exclaim, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about, baby!” She would punctuate each exclamation with her grunting that would crescendo into a disturbing Oooh. Oooooh. Oooooooooooooooh!

I looked to my left. I looked to my right. People were starting to notice the 5-year old spouting 70’s porn clichés standing next to me. I bent down and said, “Keep it down a little, Allie.” I did it gently. I didn’t want to quash the poor girl’s enthusiasm. At the same time, I didn’t want to raise concerns among some in the crowd that my daughter was being raised in a bordello.

I didn’t ask Allie where she had heard people say the things she was saying. I suppose I will ask, eventually, but I’m not at all sure how to broach the topic. In the meantime, I’ll hold off on taking Allie to see her first pro baseball game. If it turns out to be an exciting game I’ll probably get arrested.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Safari With Nuts and Root Beer Candy

I don't know if it can be classified as an annual event, but we have done it two years in a row.

I'm talking about backyard camping.

This year Allie and I slept outside in the tent once again. Ranger Debbie brought us provisions (nuts and root beer candy). We slept on air beds covered with just about every comforter, blanket or throw available in the house.

Allie and I went exploring around 10:00 p.m. We were walking around the neighborhood searching for lighting bugs and adventure. Allie wanted to cut through the park, but suddenly I felt self-conscious. I'll set the scene: a man, walking down a sidewalk at 10:00 at night hand-in-hand with a five-year old dressed in Barbie pajama bottoms and a hoodie holding an aligator shaped flashlight taking a turn into the darkness of an empty park.

It didn't seem like the thing to do.

We remained on the sidewalk and found some bugs. We also checked on the baby bunnies in the backyard. They're doing fine, by the way. Allie laughed when they leaped out of the hole and tumbled over each other like furry lotto balls.

We went to sleep about 11:45 p.m. This, despite all the fireworks that were being ignited close by. I'd wake up every hour or so and push Allie back onto her pool float (that's what she was sleeping on) and cover her back up. She continued to snore all night long. It took me at least three times to figure out the creature lurking around outside the tent was really just Allie grinding her teeth. Needless to say, I'm not feeling too rested this morning, but I don't mind.

Did I mention it was cold? But in the morning, as soon as a little sunlight hit the tent it began to warm us up. Around 7:30 we went inside and Deb and Julia were waiting for us. We had toast with jam and I had Fruit Loops for breakfast.

That's what happened last night. Allie wants to sleep in the tent again, tonight.

We'll see.