Monday, December 31, 2007

Explanation for Springsteen Bootlegs Found in Fisher Price CD Player

Allie, Julia and I were down in the basement. I was busy putting something together and the girls were playing quietly when the computer began to play Born to Run.

"Now THAT'S rock and roll," Julia says.

Allie and I stop what we're doing for a second to look at Julia then we all returned to what we were doing.

The next song was Burt Bacharach's Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head.

No reaction from the four year-old.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Go home. Eat ham.

During the benediction at church on Monday Julia was standing in front of me making faces at the little girl turned around in the pew ahead of us. The pastor began his prayer and I whispered to Julia, “Tilt your head.” She tilted her head back far enough to make eye contact with me. I looked at her and said, “The other way.”

Julia turned her head to the left.

“Julia, look at your tummy,” I said.

Her head dropped and she looked down. “Why do we have to do this?” she spat.

I didn’t answer; it wasn’t a good time for a conversation. I was just thankful that despite plenty of squirming she was being good. She occupied herself by writing her name in the Christmas program and circling key passages that she would point out to me and then nod her head as if she had discovered a cipher.

Allie and her mom doodled trees, Santa heads, candy canes, etc. in their programs.

I realize it sounds as if we weren’t paying attention but that’s not the case.

I sang. Deb sang. She sounds better plus she knows all the words. Allie tried to sing. She asked me to point out the words in her program so she could make an attempt. I’d hear her blurt out a word here and there. It was more than Julia did. I looked over at Glenn. His lips were moving, but I didn’t hear anything coming out. He was singing even if he wasn’t singing. I looked down the row to see if the rest of the family was singing. I couldn’t tell. It didn’t matter. The vibe was there. It was the night before Christmas and as Julia squirmed and Allie blurted; while Debbie doodled and Glenn lip-synced we all felt it and it was good.

Julia asked, “What are we doing after this?

“We go home and eat ham,” I said. I pointed in her program and said, “See, it says right here to stop singing, go home and eat ham."

She can’t read.

I hope she looks for that line in next year’s program.

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Oven - My Enemy

Why can't I cook?

It’s not a matter of taste; it’s a matter of temperature.

I don’t seem to be able to properly heat food so that it not only tastes good but it’s not a threat to anyone’s health.

See - Deb gets a free turkey from work each year. Usually this bird sits in our freezer like a lost WWII airman waiting to be discovered by a forensic anthropologist. [I’m sorry. That one was really stretching it – but I’m trying to be light-hearted while facing my handicap.]

Rather than let the turkey take up space in our small freezer all year long I decided to cook the thing right away. On Sunday I inserted a thermometer into the deepest part of the breast and plopped the turkey in the oven. When the thermometer told me the meat had reached 161 degrees Fahrenheit I took the thing out of the oven and let it rest until its temperature continued to rise to around 165.

I carved the bird.

It was pink inside.

Deb said, “That’s a pretty pink bird.”

I glared at her with an electric knife in my hand and she immediately said, “I mean that’s a pretty . . . pink bird."

The deeper I carved the more raw meat I discovered. Thankfully the outside of the breast was done and seemed palatable so I was able to serve food to my family that wouldn’t turn them into root beer dispensers. But there was still a lot of turkey sashimi to deal with. Sliced thin I served myself a nice e-coli carpaccio. For some reason I felt it was my duty to eat the rarest bits. It was my penance.

Is this really that difficult? Hell, even the Shepard’s Pie I made on Saturday was undercooked (the mashed potatoes on top needed to brown more). And if you eat at my house on a regular basis then you know yourself that at some point I will serve you undercooked steaks, fish, prime rib and lamb.

It might be my lack of patience. Maybe I have a crap thermometer (although I doubt it). Regardless, eventually I’m going to hurt someone and I must be stopped.

This time, with the turkey, I’m waiting to pay. I’m reacting to every twinge in my stomach and every fart as if it’s a signal for the flood gates to open. And I deserve whatever I get. For I’m the king of raw and from my throne of porcelain I will reign.

Tonight’s menu includes PB&J, raw carrots, cheese and crackers with a side of cottage cheese.

I wonder if the girls would like gazpacho?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cold-Hearted Skeptics Will Say. . .

It's no coincidence he made this before Debbie finished Christmas shopping.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Cheap, Violent Ride

Allie got on the perfect attendance roll at school. We decided to celebrate by taking her out to dinner.

Choice is something that confounds my daughter. I told her we'd take her to any restaurant she wanted. You'd have thought I had strapped down a fuzzy bunny and a cuddly hamster, picked up a hammer and said, "Choose." She made these funny, constipated noises until I began to offer some suggestions. One was Ella's Deli.

She jumped at the chance to go Ella's.

I won't bother describing Ella's to you. There is a Web site:

So we went to Ella's and the girls ran around like honyoks and looked at all the displays while we waited for our food. Once it arrived I ate more pickles during this meal than I ever have before. I even tried deep fried pickles. Had celery soda, too. They're both pretty good.

The food is always good at Ella's but what I wanted to write about was the mechanical horse they have. One glance at this thing and I was immediately transported back to my childhood. The horse was cast from metal. No plastic here. The paint is worn and the saddle looks as if has entertained the butts of generations of kids.

It still only cost a dime to ride. We put Julia on the thing and dropped our dime in the slot. I was shocked by how violently this thing jerked Julia back and forth. Judging from the look on her face Julia was surprised, too.

My children have grown up with plastic riding horses that charge at least 50 cents to gently sway their riders to and fro.

I find this sad.

I like my mechanical horses violent. If I was four, I'd want a cheap ride that feels as if I might fall off and impale myself on one of the horse's sharp metal ears. This is also what I want for my children.

Fortunately they can still find it at Ella's Deli.

And pickles - a shitload of pickles.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Simon Sleeps

There are times when I wake up and feel the cat, Simon, wrapped around my leg. He burrows under the covers, forces his paw under my calf or thigh and holds on to my leg. I imagine it looks something like this:A few nights ago, I woke up as Simon was adjusting his position under the covers. I could feel his head move and I knew he had his face buried in my butt. Normally that would be enough to get me to reach under the covers and throw the cat on to the floor.

But I had to fart.

This was wrong. This was deranged. Man or beast; taking pleasure in blasting one of God's creatures with your flatulence is damaged thinking.

I cut loose with a big one.

Simon didn't move.

What the hell.

He didn't even twitch.

So I waited and hit him again.

No reaction.

I couldn't have killed him. He was still warm.

I started to get a little freaked out. After all, I'm already baffled by how the cat can breathe under all of those covers. Now there had to be massive amounts of methane and bacterial gas trapped like a diving bell around his furry little head.

It was a miracle. My cat has developed some kind of gills. . . or is a fetishist.

I start to laugh. I try to stop myself from laughing because there's no way in hell I want Debbie to wake up and ask me to explain why I'm laughing.

I'm farting on the cat's head, honey. Go back to sleep.

I couldn't take it. I grabbed Simon and (on the off chance I really did knock him out) I placed him gently on the floor.

So far I haven't been able to look the cat straight in the eye. That's going to take some time.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

See You on the Other Side

The average human can run 11 miles per hour. That’s the average human; not the 28 MPH, steroid enhanced, Olympian models.

I can run 12 MPH.

This means in a fight or flight scenario - I’ll be the one fighting. Unless I’m being attacked by a land locked manatee. Then I’d probably make a break for it.

Allie can run 8 MPH. We know this because of the radar speed sign the police department has temporarily placed outside of our house. It’s a big, battery operated display on wheels that reminds drivers of their speed. Last night Allie and I wondered if it would clock our speed.

It did. It does.

Daylight Saving Time has ended so these days we’re forced to play outside in the cold and the dark, running full-tilt sprints down the middle of the road. Allie and I would wait for the cars to go by and as soon as their numbers would clear we’d start running toward the machine.

Later, around midnight, I woke myself up because I thought that my heart had stopped. I’m not sure if I was dreaming or if I had indigestion but I was fairly certain I died for a second or two. In my sleep-addled brain I blamed my imaginary coronary on all that sprinting down the middle of the road as fast as I could over and over again.

I’m going to face the radar speed sign again tonight. I’m a little sore, but I’m pretty sure I can improve my numbers. That said, just in case I wasn’t imagining my heart stopping last night, I wanted you know how and why I murdered myself.

Hopefully I’ll reach at least 15 MPH before they remove the sign . . . or I die.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sometimes, I think I'd rather fold laundry. . .

I don't blog much these days.

Dan and I have had a few conversations about why I don't post as often as I once did. Mainly it boils down to me being lazy and more than a little bored. I've been doing this for a while now. I've had a Web page since (as I am so fond of reminding everyone) 1996. In fact, I ran across these relics this evening:

I wish I could find the older stuff but - the thing is, I love sharing portions of my life with you guys. And, more importantly, I love it when you share your lives and talents with me (and everyone else who visits you on the Web). And as much I might be sick of staring at this screen, there is absolutely no denying that my life has been enriched by exposing some of my parts on the Internet.

I'm sorry, there's no point here. There probably won't even be a punch line. I just wanted an excuse to post some of the older stuff I found and encourage everyone on my links page to keep on being so incredibly entertaining. I'm addicted to everything you do.

And no, Dwayne; I haven't been drinking.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

In a Nutshell

I should write something about our trip to Ireland.

If we came home with a long list of people to thank it would definitely include Glenn and Judy for taking care of the kids and Dan and Kerry for taking care of us. Then there's Jeannette and Archie who so graciously invited us into their home and Paul for putting up with us leaking out on him so early. Plus everyone else who helped make this a wonderful vacation.

I should write something about all of that but you know how lazy I am. I think I'll just post a video instead:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

For Dan and Kerry:

Manchester airport security agent quote: Someone certainly is fond of mustard.

More later. . .

Thursday, September 27, 2007


After a little too much driving we made it to Kenmare. Deb and I just got back from walking through a cow pasture to get a closer look at the bay that our room overlooks. This was our second try. The first time the cattle started to mosey toward me and I didn't have the courage to continue until I had some reassurance. The inn's owner, Owen told me they would be cool with the intrusion. So Deb and I made our way to the bay.

It was beautiful. We sat on a rock and watched as the sun set on the Caha mountains. The sun set. That means we walked back in the dark. We walked back in the dark through a cow pasture. I walked ahead of Deb in order to throw myself on a landmine if need be. All I heard from behind me was, I can't see shit. This is a lot of crap. . . and assorted other poo jokes.

Our first day didn't go quite so smoothly, but for every bad thing that happened, Deb reminded us both about something good to trump it. In other words, we're very happy to be here.

Happy birthday, Kerry!

Deb is calling me from the other room to show me something. Better go check it out.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My Friend Dwayne

I forgot Dwayne's birthday this year. He remembered mine.

I haven't spoken to him in a while so I thought I'd drop him a line. I had some questions for him and he answered them. Here's what I found out:
  1. We've known each other practically our entire lives, do we even still like each other or is it just the momentum of our shared history?
  2. You're a good athlete; played soccer in high school and have kept in pretty good shape all these years. Why is it that you throw a baseball like a girl?
    I read a study in a prestigious scientificky magazine that claims that the girl-like throw
    produces a better power-to-effort ratio than the traditional manly throw. Actually, the only time you ever saw me throw anything, I was using my left hand because you claim lefties are dominant. What a load of crap that turned out to be!!
  3. We all know you're a huge High School Musical fan and that you've worked out a lot of the choreography. Do you plan to post any of your routines on YouTube?
    What's YouTube? Is that some sort of a you-don't-have-a-Mac reference?
  4. What's your favorite aspect of motorcycling?
    I enjoy long trips to exotic locations like the mystical town of Stoughton, Wisconsin to leave garbage on porches.
  5. Underpowered and overpriced – what's the appeal of the Harley?
    I could be snobby and say if it has to be explained, you can't even begin to understand. I will say that if you don't like the look and feel of any Harley or a particular family within Harley, that's your prerogative. You already like motorcycles, isn't that enough for everyone to just get along?
  6. You have a facility for languages. What language would you like to tackle next or which language would you like to devote more time to perfecting?
    I would like to learn Guarani.
  7. On a scale of 1 to 10 (ten being the most) how relieved are you that your lovely daughter looks more like her mother?
    Like an 11 or 12. Or more.
  8. There have been times when you've made me laugh until I can't breathe. Has this ever frightened you?
    No, it encourages me to find the perfect series of comments, stories, jokes, one-liners and anecdotes to push you over the edge. I envision visiting you in the hospital due to the inevitable stroke/heart attack in your future and finishing you off with a few quotes from a funny show or movie.
  9. You're a well-traveled man. Where's your favorite place and why?
    I love traveling, especially when it's on Uncle Sam's dime. Going to another country always makes me realize how great it is to live in the United States. I haven't been to a country yet that I didn't like and I hope to travel more in both Europe and South America. So obviously, my favorite place in the world is the US. You'll say that's a cop-out so I'll say that one of the best trips I've ever taken was one of my trips to Paraguay because I didn't do anything but relax on that trip.
  10. I have seen you angry (sort of), but I've never seen you really lose your cool. What keeps you on such an even keel (please list all prescriptions)?
    You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. . . I lose my cool more than I care to admit. Thanks for thinking I keep it on an even keel. Can I use you as a reference for a security clearance, job, or adoption?
  11. You know everyone in my family. Here's the situation: All the adults are hanging off a cliff and you and I can only save two. Who lives, Dwayne?
    Dave and Marcia so then they'll give us all their money!! Unless one of the others can come up with the cash. What do you say Kim and Pam?!
  12. Best post-workout meal: chili or doughnuts?
    Chili and doughnuts and haagen dazs!!
Thanks, Dwayne.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I don't post much these days. But I thought I'd better let the grandparents know Allie is in second grade now.

Remember the other day when she started Kindergarten?

But who cares about that. Check out this photo of the motorcycle I have parked next to the motorcycle I want:

Mine's faster.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Alvin: Dead. Theodore: Dead. Simon: Dead! Dead! Dead!

Just about every morning I stop in front of the house and wave goodbye to everyone whether there’s a person standing in the window or not (and, thankfully, there usually is).

Yesterday I stopped in the road and threw kisses and waved goodbye. When I looked away from the window I saw a chipmunk sitting upright on the front porch. It looked as if it was waving its little arms.

Normally, I’d think something like this was cute; a little woodland creature sending me off to work in some sort of Disneyesque fantasy moment. The problem is I’ve murdered several chipmunks over the past few summers - killed them in truly brutal ways that involved poison, a garden hose, a pellet gun and a shovel.

With this much chipmunk blood on my hands, there was no way I could interpret this rodent’s actions as being friendly. I witnessed a throw down. This was a bold, hate-filled animal creeping me out like Max Cady just out of prison.


I’m waiting for his next move. Or maybe I should take it.

No matter what happens, I don’t see this ending well for either of us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The harder it is to get - the more they'll want it.

Lisa and Sarah at work both told me about Pete’s Hamburger Stand in Prairie Du Chien. In fact, Lisa described it to me some time ago. She didn’t say Pete’s made the best hamburgers, but she did say they were really, really good and I should try them if I had the opportunity.

Last weekend was my chance.

I walked up to the stand and there were no lines (I was told there were always lines). There had been plenty of rain so I assumed that Pete’s clientele had been washed out. I walked up to one of the two windows in the shack and saw a big grill with nothing but onions sizzling in water. One grill, two windows. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice the guy inside the tiny shack holding a huge tub filled with balls of raw meat but he startled me. He very politely told me that he was making up another batch and it would be about 15 minutes before anyone got a hamburger.

The girls were waiting in the car so I asked them if they felt 15 minutes was too much to ask. They didn’t think it was too much so we killed time in a toy store. We bought a pair of Romper Stompers. The version we now own aren't called Romper Stompers, but that’s what they are. While we were in the toy store Deb asked me if I should go get in line while they continued browsing. I told her that the guy with the raw meat said fifteen minutes and that because of the rain there didn’t seem to be anyone left on the entire block, let alone near the hamburger stand.

When we walked out of the toy store I looked down the street and there were lines streaming from both windows in the stand.

I didn’t run, but there was no way I was going to wait another half-an-hour for a hamburger. I got in line and tried to see how many burgers were left. It seemed as if the patties were flying off the grill. Would there be enough to cover my order? The hype from home and the hype from the people standing in line talking about how great these burgers were was amping my brain. Finally, I made it to the window.

"Two with. Three without. All with ketchup, salt and pepper please.”

I sounded as if I had been ordering these things since infancy.

The burgers were tucked into bags and I handed them to Allie (I carried the root beers and chips). I told her that if she dropped the bags on the wet pavement our lunch would be ruined and our entire vacation along with it. She assured me she was up to the task.

Now, I don’t know if it was because it was incredibly muggy as we sat in the car by the riverside or maybe it was because Julia was screaming and crying because she couldn’t have her own bag of Doritos; but there was no choir of angels when I tasted my hamburger. It was good. It was satisfying. It had an unusual texture because it’s basically boiled in water on the grill. The water is infused with the flavor of all the onions that are boiling next to the patties so that taste makes it way into the meat. But I think I’m more of a Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry kind of guy.

That’s not to say the next time I’m in Prairie Du Chien I won’t stop by. . . just to see how long the line is.'s.htm

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Brush with Death

A few nights ago I went upstairs because Julia was sobbing. I went into her room and she's repeating, "I don't wanna die. I don't wanna die." So I asked her why she thought she was going to die.

"I swallowed some toothpaste."

I explained that toothpaste fatalities were rare and that she had nothing to worry about. She bought this and stopped crying.

Tonight as we got ready for bed she started crying about brushing her teeth. "What if I swallow some toothpaste?"

You can pretty much guess what happened after that.

I just belched. Surprisingly it didn't taste like Colgate Dora the Explorer Bubble Gum Fruit.

I'll let you know what happens on the flip side.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I'm Sitting Near Debbie

She's eating her birthday cake.

It's not her birthday.

It's not cake.

Deb's birthday was yesterday. Instead of the usual cake she wanted some kind of weird, frosted, quasi-cake experience made from pumpkin.

Pumpkin strangeness is what she wants; pumpkin strangeness is what she gets. After all, at her age who knows how many more birthdays she has left.

"Allie! Why do you love your mommy?"

"Because I do. Because, um, well, she um, she loves me and she's a nice mommy and I was born with her and uh, uh, ARE YOU TYPING THIS?"


"Oh. Because she is my mommy and because she's part of the family and she loves me and I love her. And that's my answer. ALRIGHT?"

"Julia! Why do you love your mommy?

"Because she let's me play in the car. Because she's nice to me and I like her so much and I love her and that's it. And because she's part of the family, too. That's it. Okay?"


I had to delete the last five sentences I typed. There's no need to make fun of Debbie's advanced age. I'll just say I hope she had a good birthday and that I love her.

And not just because she lets me play in the car, too.

Friday, August 10, 2007


Sunday, when Julia went away to spend a week with her grandparents we thought that might be a good time to separate her from her blankie. Reports tell us that Julia did fine all week long without her best friend so I think we'll keep pretending her worn, pink blanket belongs to the ages.

Unfortunately, Operation: Grosse Pointe Blankie has become a little more elaborate than I expected. Everyone is in on it including Allie. Tonight Allie and I put on a little dog and pony show to distract Julia as I snatched her blankie from her backpack and slammed it inside our blanket chest.

Julia thinks blankie is lost.

Right now she's standing eight feet away from her most treasured possession. Right now she's watching me type this blog and right now she still doesn't realize how easily any of us could produce the goods.



Julia is a big poopy head who doesn't know she could turn around, open a chest and be reunited with her one, true love in a matter of seconds.

Someday, when she reads this, I'm going to be in deep shit.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

2000 Suzuki Bandit 1200S Oil Change

About a year ago I did a post about breaking off the oil filter cover mounts on my GS500 when doing an oil change. Since then I've received email from people who think I actually know what I'm doing when it comes to motorcycle maintenance.

I don't know what I'm doing.

That said, when it comes to tackling basic maintenance it's nice to have some photos to let you know that you're not completely destroying your vehicle. So this weekend when I changed the oil in the motorcycle I decided to take a few photos that someone might find helpful.

Okay, you've warmed up your bike for a couple of minutes and you're ready to get started. Getting the Bandit on the center stand wasn't as easy as it was with my GS500. But if you stand very close to your bike and maintain your weight on the stand - a tug or two on the handlebars should get the bike to pop right up.

You've got your pan beneath the bike and it's time to start wrenching. I've never been able to get my hand out of the way of the hot oil. I never thought that was much of a problem until I read my Clymer manual and they write that prolonged exposure to motor oil causes cancer. Can they make that kind of medical declaration in a motorcycle repair manual? Apparently the answer is, "Yes."

The old oil filter is easy to find. But don't go any further until you've got a pair of mechanics gloves on. I didn't have any on. Little bits of the skin from my knuckles are now clinging to my exhaust. I'm not sure what I was thinking but do yourself a favor and put on a pair of mechanics gloves.

Removing the old filter doesn't require a delicate touch so I just got a pair of channel locks, crunched it and started twisting. Remember, lefty loosey - righty tighty.

When it comes time to install the new filter you will want to avoid any crunching so put away the channel locks and get out an oil filter wrench and a ratchet.

Some people claim that FRAM filters are crap. If you change your oil on a regular basis I don't think it really matters plus you can find FRAM everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE. So for your 2000 Suzuki Bandit 1200S you'll want to use a FRAM filter #PH6018.

After you've got the plug and new filter in place (careful not to over-tighten either) it's time for some fresh oil. You'll want to put 3.5 liters (3.7 quarts) of fresh 10W40 into your Suzuki. You're asking, "Do I really need to use motorcycle oil?" I was always told that it didn't make a difference but the more I read the more I discover that there is a difference beside the higher price. Believe it or not, one of the main reasons is that oil for cars is too slippery and can cause problems in your bike.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Whole Tooth - Nothing But. . .

I went to the dentist today. 2.5 hours to get my teeth cleaned. He's very thorough. He said I had great gums and I do a good job taking care of my teeth. He also provided a consultation resulting in a recommendation of $14,000 worth of minor corrections he could make. He promised that once I had these procedures I would have a perfect mouth of teeth that would bring great honor to my family.

Allie went to the dentist today. She likes going to the dentist and did a great job of convincing her sister that a good teeth cleaning is about as much fun as a person can have.

Julia had her turn in the chair. It was nothing like her first visit to the dentist. This time there was no screaming, no kicking, just a few uncomfortable moments when Allie got a little carried away with "Mr. Thirsty" - but otherwise Deb and I felt very grateful.

Yeah; it definitely was a family affair. I was really surprised at how involved the hygienist allowed Allie to become. In fact, I almost asked for a discount considering the amount of work Allie contributed.

I guess this means the only person in the house with a filthy mouth is Debbie.

God bless her.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Neiguan Pericardium 6

I didn't get any sleep last night (and not because Bon bon called me a jerk). I have a cold and I could not stop a raging case of hiccups. All night long these little spasms jerked my body at regular intervals. A couple of times I wound up on the bedroom floor trying not to wake Deb (she later told me that was a wasted effort).

They started around 7:00 p.m. last night. It's now 12:14 p.m. and I just got them to stop.

I went to this Web site:

I had tried many of the cures listed but then I saw one referring to acupressure. As I am fond of touching myself I saw no harm in giving this method a whirl.

It worked.

Coincidence? Maybe. But after 17 or so hours of hiccups I got to know the rhythms of my malady and I was at the peak of a hiccup cycle. I applied pressure to the spot indicated:Suddenly - no more hiccups. My eyes got wide and I looked around the room to see if anyone had witnessed the miracle. The cat sat up and looked at me for a moment. I don't think it had anything to do with some sort of ethereal energy that had been released by my use of this ancient Chinese healing art. He just yawned and flopped back down on the bed.

While the cat may not give a shit, I do. I'm planning a rigorous acupressure regime for myself starting right now. I'll start with points 5, 6 and 22 on my legs. I don't know how this is supposed to cure flatulence, but if I had known it was this easy I could have spared my family a lot of misery over the years.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sounds Like You're Making Fun of a Pig

Ham mock.

From the sounds of all the small motors I hear sputtering around the neighborhood I should be mowing the lawn.

Screw that. I've got a hammock.

The girls are two doors down playing in a neighbor's yard. I don't think there are any other children, just them running around in circles and screaming, "Feed us! Throw out candy or we'll shit in your bushes!" Actually there appears to be about five or six of them and they seem to be getting along. I'm never sure if I should make my presence known to the other parents. It seems like I should pop over for a second just to let them know that I'm not depending on them to take care of my children for an hour or four.

I think I'll avoid contact. After all, I'm busy. I'm swinging in my hammock, listening to Radio All That Comes With It and wondering how god is punishing the evil people.

I'm looking at the sky and it reminds me of Bon Bon's photo of the capital shot through the fountain on Monona Terrace. It's a great picture. All that sky. It makes me want to close my eyes and take deep, deep breaths in through my nose. I haven't talked much to Bon Bon lately. We got in a huge fight just because I didn't hold the door for her one morning. I wound up standing in her office yelling at the top of my lungs. She wasn't there - but I felt better.

Speaking of confrontations with friends. Dwayne, you need to get your ass back here and pick up your trash. Who hops on their motorcycle and rides for hours just to drop their waste off on a person's porch? Who does that? I've walked around the house three times so far to see what else you may have left for me to pick up. So far I didn't find anything but that doesn't mean there's not a surprise waiting for me.

Julia just came by and crawled into the hammock with me. "Why aren't you playing?" I asked.

"Austin is trying to kill the turtle with a truck. I told him two times not to do it but he won't listen. "

"Yeah, but why aren't you playing with your friends?"

"Too many blueberries on the ground."


Time to give the girls a bath. I suppose their hygiene trumps my hammock time. They'd better be freakin' filthy.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lucky Day

We were in Chicago yesterday for Anika's first birthday. Holding my niece reminded me that babies release massive amounts of procreation chemicals in a parent's brain. As much as I like kissing babies I was able to overcome the desire to throw Julia out of her room and convert it back to a nursery.

By the way, Anika has the grip of a pro wrestler.

It was a great party and we had a wonderful time celebrating Anika's first year. After the party we made our way to a downtown hotel. One thing we noticed was that everyone in Chicago was getting married. 7/7/07. Supposedly a very lucky day. This meant we saw two weddings in our hotel, we walked along the river and saw people being married on a boat. People were walking around in tuxes and bridesmaids' dresses.

Love was in the air.

I was thinking about what advice I'd offer a new bride and groom. The only thing I can think of is don't pee in front of one another. Leave a little mystery.

Actually, there are others, but I'm not sure I'm fit to offer advice on marriage. This isn't false modesty. I'm simply not a good husband. So when I tell you to never go to bed angry, I'm thinking you should probably push your husband/wife down the stairs before you hit the hay. Otherwise you'll stay awake all night long trying to think of ways to get him/her to stand at the top of the staircase without raising any suspicions.

Avoid doing any maintenance on your spouse's vehicle. The more knowledge you have the more likely you'll discover where the brake lines are.

Work on tempering the tone of your voice. Even the most subtle screaming attracts attention in public places; like church.

When glaring at your spouse, cough, jiggle around in your seat, flap your arms wildly so he/she will notice and you won't waste the energy it takes to burn a hole into the back of his/her head with your heat vision.

Buy your spouse an iPhone. That's the only thing that really says, "I love you."

When farting in bed make it loud so they know what's coming.

Do your share. Unless you know you can get away with not doing your share without any repercussions. Then it's okay to make them do all the work.

Passive aggression is healthy. Say it. Say it over and over again through your gritted teeth.

Um. . . I'm going to stop here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Empty Trash? Yes. Empty Trash. NO! WAIT!

If you click on the multimedia button to the left you'll find a new movie at the top of the page.

Bay Beach.

It's a big hackin' file so if you don't have broadband, click it then go make a sandwich, mow the lawn, maybe rearrange your sock drawer.

I accidentally erased all the clips I used so this version is the only thing that's left of the footage I shot.

Good thing I wasn't messing around with our wedding video.

I Can't Stop Watching This

I Like the Purple and Green Ones

The orgy of burst and boom came to an end around 10:30 p.m. last night. That was after Allie and I made our way to the fair grounds to see what fireworks the city had to offer.

We walked to our usual spot and put our blanket down next to an older guy wearing a hat that told us he was a Vietnam Veteran. He looked over at Allie and said, “Hi.”

Allie said, “Hi.”

“Are you ready for the show?” the guy asked.

As I watched Allie’s lungs fill up with air I knew this guy had no idea what he had launched.

home.Thisguyinatruckranoversomeofourfireworkstonight!Hejustpulledintoourdrivewayand. . .”

It didn’t go on as long as I expected but from the way our neighbor grinned at me it was clear he got more than he bargained for.

With a little help from our cell phones Larry and Karina found us and sat down on our blanket. Their three kids were already in their pajamas as we all waited for the explosions to start.

It was a good show. Parts of it were downright spectacular but I’m sure that was more a matter of proximity than anything else. Getting close to the action is vital to making any fireworks display great. When the first burst of the evening set off a bunch of car alarms it was fairly clear we were close enough for some greatness.

Allie was as vocal as she usually is. “That’s what I’m talking about, baby! Oooooh, that one thumped me in the chest! PRETTY!” In fact, we were all providing more commentary than usual. I’ve learned from Allie that while watching is fun, participating in anyway you can is more fun. Hence I threw in a few that’s what I’m talking abouts myself.

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating - as much as I love the fireworks, I think I enjoy the walk back to the car as much, or more. Allie and I weave through the crowd and I listen to her go on and on about the fireworks or whatever it is that attracts her attention. I know just the right time to let go of Allie’s hand (before it gets too sweaty). And after there has been sufficient drying time, Allie’s hand always seems to find mine again. We talked about Naugahyde, North America, how nice it is to live in a small town and why the cookies from the bakery on Main Street are better than the ones from the grocery store.

When we got home we fired off our own contribution to the annual 4th of July ruckus. I decided I’d better get rid of the bigger stuff while everyone else lit their illegal mortars. It was clear that a lot of people decided this was the year to risk a fine. I didn’t feel as bad as I usually do that Deb had to miss out on the city fireworks because she was surrounded by some pretty high-powered stuff just standing in our driveway.

We still have a bunch of fountains left. If you’re interested, stop by this evening. We’ll be at the end of the driveway.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Little Miracles

While Dan's over in England preserving his present for his children's future, I'm sitting here thinking I should write about the fuzz in my belly button.

One seems to be a much nobler pursuit. But I'm not going to be the one who tells Dan he's wasting his time with this whole legacy thing.

As for me, I'm going to leave my kids tales of the fluff I've pulled from my navel. It's not that I don't have the urge to chronicle my kids' kidhood. I can be sentimental. It's just that I simply don't feel that my children deserve it.

They are brats.

They make me yell at them and behave in ways that force me to become inventive about being cruel.

Okay, they don't make me do these things. In fact, I must like to do these things because they come easily. That said, I still wouldn't want a recording of me yelling at my daughter to close her bedroom door because none of us downstairs want to hear her sobbing to be played during my eulogy.

Two bites. Two goddamn bites of cottage cheese and she was behaving as if I was making her eat something out of the litter box. She likes cottage cheese! She asks for cottage cheese! I give her cottage cheese! She doesn't eat the damn cottage cheese!

But Greg, she's only three.
She'll be four at the end of month.
You need to learn to be more patient.
You need to shut the hell up.
See what I'm talking about? You're a very angry person.
I'm not angry. I'm totally freakin' bonkers and it's all because of my daughters' incessant whining. That and the fact that cottage cheese is expensive. Now come closer so I can give you a big - great big hug.

I like to pull the lint out of my belly button. How it gets in there I'll never know. It's a little miracle that happens just about every single day. Just like when I don't call that list of boarding schools I carry in my wallet.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I'm Not Sure How it Happened

I had been looking at a BMW f650 that is parked on the edge of town. Every day I drive by it on the way to work and each day (until Saturday) I wanted it more. In fact I even did some negotiating with the person who owns the bike, but she wouldn't budge much on the price.

Good thing.

On Saturday I went into town to get some oil for the old Suzuki. The motorcycle shop I frequent is owned by an older couple. They are very sweet people and I've always liked doing business with them. When I told them that I also needed a new battery Judy, the owner, asked me what bike I had. She found out I had a 2001 GS500 and stopped in her tracks. She told me they had been looking everywhere for a GS500 but couldn't find one locally. In fact, they were sending a friend to Ohio to look at one at a dealership.

Three hours later I sold my motorcycle and made a little money off the deal to boot.

Now I was prepared to give the person the extra money she demanded for her BMW. But before I went to make the deal I decided to check Craigslist.

That's where I found a 2000 Suzuki Bandit 1200S.

Allie and I met the college kid who owns the motorcycle on Sunday. I took it for a test drive. Honestly, the thing scared me. I would describe it as a muscle car. It's got a crap load of torque. They call it the "Wheelie Cycle" because a lot of wheelie schools buy this model for the high power, low price combo. That same combination has also left it with the reputation as being a thug bike.

Heh. . .

It's not perfect, it needs some cleaning up and I really wanted something fuel injected so I wouldn't have to warm it up on cold mornings. Plus, it's got a modified exhaust that adds horsepower (which I don't need) and engine noise (which I don't want). But oh my god does it fly.

I drove it home this evening. I thought I was going about 70 MPH. I looked down at the speedometer and it said I was doing a little more than 100.


So getting the new bike was a bit of a whirlwind and to tell you the truth I'm not sure how I wound up with a new bike so quickly. After all, the GS500 was a great bike. But my riding habits and girth truly cried out for something bigger.

Bigger, I got.

Friday, June 15, 2007

UPS Says Father's Day was Thursday

My father’s day gift arrived early. It sat on the front porch waiting for me to come home last night. I’m sure that Deb would have preferred that the words “Hammock Stand” weren’t on the outside of one of the boxes. But they were. That must be why Deb thought there was really no point in pretending and, like I said, I got my father’s day gift early.

We went into town to find a carabineer to help hang my new hammock from the tree in the back yard.
But Greg, didn’t you just write that you got a Hammock Stand with your new hammock?
Yes, but it only supports one end. You have to find something to hang the other end on and it turns out neither of the girls is patient or strong enough.

The tree in back is perfect.

By the time we got home the sun was just about ready to disappear. So I worked quickly and after a little trial and error I got the hammock to support my weight, Allie’s weight and after a few minutes Julia’s weight.

As I write about this I’m starting to get drowsy. I’m remembering how the girls lowered their voices a little to accommodate the relaxed look on my face. We rocked a little. We stared at the leaves and listened to the wind move them around. After the girls went inside to bed I stayed outside in the hammock. I tried a few different positions. I turned my body to let my legs dangle over the side and used them to push myself back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth until I knew I was just a second or two away from sleeping.

That’s when I sprung up and tore apart my hammock assembly and went into the house. My almost nap must have provided some benefit because I stayed up half the night. Damn Steve Jobs and his keynotes. This time he’s all about Leopard. It’s coming in October and if I can’t get a copy in my usual, no money involved method then I’ll gladly shell out the $129.

Speaking of Apple, this weekend I’ll find out if the wireless works from the hammock. A hammock post. It’ll take a very long time to write. And it’ll be filled with very short sentences. Short sentences about leaves. Plus I’ve been itchin’ to use the words “dappled sunlight” for some reason. I have other words that have been hanging around for a while. Right now I have detritus on the brain. I don’t know what detritus means but I keep thinking about it. I don’t want to look it up. I just want it to go away. But what I want most is to go back and forth in my hammock.

Back and forth.

Did I say, “Thank you, Debbie”?

Thank you, Debbie.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tonight It's Aspirin for Dinner

Living an hour away from America's largest water park means we can hop in the car and have a mini-vacation and be home before the cats wake up. So when Deb got an invitation to spend the day at Noah's Ark without paying we decided to go. This is after last night when I told Deb that I didn't want to go. But by 10:00 a.m. this morning I found myself in the front seat of the car with two kids in the back seat vibrating with anticipation.

Driving to the park in our swimsuits meant we could walk through the gate, get our wristbands and almost immediately jump down a slide.

We did.

My first plunge was cold. Inverted nipples cold. But Allie didn't seem to mind. In fact she was braver than she's ever been on these trips.

We'll get to Julia later.

Allie is now tall enough to go on some of the more intense attractions at the park. Early on, we went on one of the dark rides called Black Thunder. I noticed her screams put the life guards on high alert until they heard the phrase, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" being repeated again and again.

Yes, Allie brought her nads along with her on this trip. That's why she decided she could handle the super intense Stingray. At the beginning of this ride Allie was sitting in a tube hanging over the edge of a thirty or forty foot drop. Before we went over, we got a little stuck and I had a chance to look into her eyes. They said, "Why are you killing me, Daddy?"

It was also Julia's day to be brave. She made several requests to ride the rapids on Congo Bongo. Of course getting her to take that first plunge was like walking her to the gallows. But she soon converted her screams of protest to screams of terror and then excitement. I was surprised when we heard, "I wanna wide dat won again!"

I got the chance to go over the Point of No Return. I'd been on this slide before, but I had forgotten the way it slams your trunks up your butt. People watch you when you go over this thing because they like to see you try to gracefully pull your pants out of your crack without anyone noticing. I walked away feeling as if I could not have shoved my trunks deeper into my body without the aid of greased axe handle. I suddenly felt a kinship to those who have done hard time in prison. It took me a good ten minutes of not-so-subtle picking and pulling and finally a trip to the restroom with some pliers to feel normal again.

One thing about hanging out with so many half-naked people is trying to avoid playing Jr. dermatologist. I'm not expert, but there were a few times when I wanted to pull out out a Sharpie and circle some of the skin abnormalities I had to stare at while we stood in line.

"Dude, I'm not a doctor, but I'm 100% sure that without surgery and massive radiation that thing on your back is going to kill you."

I realize this sounds a lot like all of our other water park posts, but I can't help myself. It was a good day. We're tired. Despite lots of sunscreen I'm red. Debbie and Allie are a little splotchy in places. Julia is as lilly white as she was this morning. But I'll take some aspirin and sleep the sleep of a large, red man who had a nice vacation with is family today.

Of course, I'll let you know (with all appropriate details) if I swallowed enough cryptosporidium to make a difference.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Care for a map (you stupid prick bastard)?

At this very moment I'm watching Bobby Flay grate cheese. This evening on Iron Chef America the secret ingredient seems a little more pedestrian than usual. It's plain ol' beef. And it was dead before they started cooking it. That's a change from when Deb and I watched the Japanese version of the show. They'd take a live fish and chop its head off and we'd squeal in disgust as it flopped around before they made ice cream out of it.

Now Betty White is pitching 1-800-PETMEDS on TV. I wonder what Betty White does for fun these days. She's 85.

I wonder what a day will be like if I make it to 85. I'm thinking something like this:

I wake up. I brush my teeth (including all four wisdom teeth that I'll hold on to despite the recommendations of every dentist I've ever visited). I take a shower, being very careful not to walk on my alarmingly distended scrotum as I step into the tub. After that it's a bio-engineered, hyper-fiber breakfast that makes my colon so clean there's an audible squeak when I walk. The bus picks me up and takes me to my job in town where I hand out maps and mutter obscenities to visitors at the state capital. I'll eat my lunch on a bench on the square and continue swearing at passersby. After work I'll come home and make dinner for Allie and Julia because they'll still be living at home. Deb will be gone. She left us years ago after she ran off with Makoto Nagano. After dinner, I'll give the girls a bath and then find a quiet spot to sit with my mouth open and stare at a ceiling fan until it's time for bed (around 6:30).

Suddenly I don't feel like typing anymore.

My god the ceiling fan in our bedroom spins fast.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Play Ball

This evening Allie plopped a bag of baseballs down and handed me my ball glove. "Wanna go outside and play?"

I didn't hesitate.

If you come to my house and ask to have a catch, we will go outside and have a catch. Period. I don't care if it's the middle of winter, we'll head outside and have a catch. I'm like a dog with it's favorite tennis ball. If you throw it, I'll chase it into the lake.

We started out slow. Allie's still treats the ball as if it's covered in poop and razor blades. I kneel in the grass and gently toss the ball, underhanded, directly into her glove. Allie is about four feet away. As soon as she gets the ball she hurls it back at my face with as much force as she can muster.

Judging from the number of times I almost ate a baseball, her arm and aim has improved over the winter.

Julia showed up a few minutes into our catch. She was doing her best to insert herself into the situation by playing right next to me. Now, I can't say if it was a coincidence or maybe it was Allie's subconscious at work, but every where Julia's skull was, that's where Allie threw the baseball.

Julia would move left, Allie threw left. It wasn't subtle in the least. Fortunately Julia wasn't aware of the five or six times she came close to being beaned. I saved her each time with a well timed snag. Each time I looked at Allie who gave no indication that she was intentionally trying to kill her sister. But after the fourth throw I was pretty sure there was something going on.

Allie still throws like a girl so I'm anxious for her to improve. I'm thinking of making a helmet for Julia with a target painted on it. Allie should become the first female in the big leagues in no time.

There are some Syttende Mai photos in the photostream. Probably more to come tomorrow.

I have to go now. Not sure why, but I have a sudden craving for chives.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dan and Kerry are Constantly Trying to Kill Each Other

The Beloit Snappers are a Class A minor league baseball club. Snappy is the Beloit Snappers mascot. Snappy is a big turtle who runs around the ball park and signs a surprising number of autographs.

Turns out, Julia is terrified of Snappy. This isn't a surprise. Julia is terrified of anything in a costume. Her reaction is always the same; she screams as if she's just been branded and clings to the biggest thing available (her mother, me, a park bench).

The stands at yesterday's ball game weren't very full which meant Snappy was on the hunt for anything under four feet tall. He came by our section three or four times. I had to move Julia away twice before she clawed her way into my chest in order to hide from Snappy inside the cavity she was trying to make.

Here's the thing: Julia's dream is to go to Disney World. Disney World - this planet's epicenter of all costumed creatures. Deb and I are talking about starting the planning process for a trip to Disney. I'm guessing we'll have to include a search for a small, pink hood that will easily fit over Julia's screaming head the moment Goofy makes a move in her direction.


This morning Julia yelled to me, "Daddy! Dan and Kerry are on TV! Look, Daddy! Dan and Kerry are on TV!"

I don't know why, but I thought she was watching a news report and there was another Tube bombing in London and Dan and Kerry just happened to be in town that day and they were being interviewed on CNN about what happened.

It's amazing the crap that can flash into your head in less than five seconds.

I walked over to Julia to see what was on the TV.

It wasn't Dan and Kerry. It was Tom and Jerry.

I wonder if this is related to the fact that Julia told us yesterday that when you die, you go to Evan.

Speaking of the Hughes. . . Look what Dan taught me how to do:

Friday, May 11, 2007

This Is All You Get

The drive home takes a little longer these days because bridge repairs have narrowed the Interstate to just one lane. Usually most drivers are smart and courteous enough to get over in the proper lane as soon as the road signs tell them what to do. That's why I thought it wouldn't be too much trouble to take the fast way home this evening.

I forgot it was Friday.

Friday is migration day. That's when Wisconsin is flooded with Illinois residents who come to our fair state to get away from their bleak environs. Don't get me wrong, I'm from Illinois and it's a beautiful state. But what we're really talking about is Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. It is indeed a gray, crowded place where they don't seem to teach people how to drive.

That explains why traffic was backed-up for miles on the Interstate. When the road wasn't a parking lot, traffic moved very slowly. My clutch hand was cramping up as I tried to keep the speedometer needle from moving past zero yet still keep the engine running and the bike itself from becoming parallel with the pavement.

At one point, a very large trucker hung his head out his window to strike up a conversation with me. "Trade places with ya!" he shouted. I held up my left hand and said, "I don't think you'd want that, my clutch hand is cramping up." He laughed and told me that I should make a U-Turn at one of the State Trooper turn-arounds that was coming up and find a different route. He said he saw a lady in a pickup do it just a minute ago. I said, "But that's illegal."

He told me not to be a pussy.

A few seconds later I was right next to the U-Turn. There was no traffic on the other side of the road. That's when I dove onto the little patch of concrete that connected both sides of the Interstate and hit the throttle. I didn't have to go fast. In fact, calling attention to myself like that was really stupid, but if I was going to break the law, I might as well throw up some gravel while I was doing it.


The plan was to segue from the traffic jam on the way home into something else that happened when I got home. But the post has now become about the traffic jam as I have forgotten the real reason why I started to blog this evening in the first place.

I'm sorry. You get what I intended to be merely a build up to the actual post. This is all you get.

Monday, May 07, 2007

I'd Rather Have Bon Bon Tag Me Before Marlin Perkins

Bon Bon tagged me.

My five obsessions:

I’m obsessed by not having enough obsessions
I’m not trying to be cute. I honestly spend a lot of time considering the fact that I dabble in a few activities but I’m not committed enough to actually cultivate a level of expertise in anything. I know people who, in addition to their vocations, are masterful writers, photographers, cooks, etc. These people choose one or two hobbies and become really good at them. I don’t know if it’s because I’m lazy or my short attention span but I would say I’m obsessed with gathering new hobbies in the hopes of finding one that sticks.

Even numbers
It may have something to do with a desire for symmetry. Regardless, everything I do has to end on an even number. The volume control number on the TV; the number of fruit snacks I steal from the girls; the number of times I knock on a door – they all have to be even numbers.

Keeping my kids warm
I don’t check on them as much these days but I still sometimes wake up panicked that one of the girls is shivering in her bed. I can’t stand the thought of either of them being cold at night. This is weird because I recall last year’s genius idea of giving Allie and Julia a bath with a bottle of shampoo and the garden hose in the back yard. I didn’t seem to mind all the screaming, shivering and blue lips at that time. In this case, I guess I could classify my concern for my kids’ warmth as more of a mood than an obsession.

Winning the lottery
This is closer to being a hobby than it is an obsession but once a month, I buy two lottery tickets. I buy one for the state drawing and a second for the much larger, multi-state affair that could mean hundreds of millions for one lucky winner. I then fantasize about what I would do with the money. After doing this for some time now, I think I’m ready to win. I’ve mentioned this fact to God so I imagine this next lottery purchase will produce the millions I’ve spent so much time considering.

Small, meaningless projects
It seems that if there is a project that will yield no particular benefit to anyone once completed, I will throw myself into said project and not stop until I achieve desired results. Good examples of these temporary obsessions would be anything to do with a computer, retrieving cover art for iTunes, installing car stereos and assembling Ikea furniture. I can’t let go. Really. . .

Five reasons I blog:

1) To make sure that Marcia and Judy know what they’re children and grandchildren are up to.

2) It’s helps rationalize spending dough on up-to-date technology. Deb, I hate to spend this kind of money, too. But we need to go wireless so I can blog from the toilet.

3) I blog because I feel guilty about my contribution to society’s abandonment of a need for community. My blog is a response to my apathy toward building honest, meaningful, face-to-face relationships with other people. It’s a sad attempt to connect with others when the truth is I’d rather be watching Ninja Warrior and reading about Lindsay Lohan’s self-destruction on YOU KIDS STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY YARD!

4) Now you wouldn't believe me if I told you, but I could type like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was blogging!

5) I blog so I can have a forum for telling the world how wonderful my wife is so when she reads it I'm almost guaranteed marital congress.

I'd tag someone, but I really don't know who to tag unless I tag Bon Bon back.

I wonder if Ninja Warrior is on. . .

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tonight's Special: Canadian Elk with a Side of Barney

Allie's first sleep-over meant we were forced to present Julia with a reasonable compensation package that included a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Deb and I hate Chuck E. Cheese's.

It's loud, the food truly sucks, you know every surface is covered with Ebolavirus and there's always at least one obnoxious kid who will shove your child to the ground and climb over her broken body to get to a skee ball ramp. That said, a trip to Chuck's is a small price to pay to avoid upsetting the delicate balance of sibling equity. If we didn't, one of our kids would feel less loved than the other causing her to immediately turn to a crack pipe to provide the nurturing mommy and daddy would not.

This time Debbie had the brilliant idea to have dinner before we went to Chuck E.'s. I don't know why I thought this was against the rules. I honestly thought Chuck E. Cheese's hired enforcers who would throw your ass out if you didn't eat their sucky pizza before letting your kid play Whack-A-Mole for three straight hours.

We wound up at a fairly nice place. There was no kid's menu, the soup of the day was a tomato bisque with blue cheese and caramelized onions and the waiter had a crumb scraper so I'm thinking this was the alternate universe version of Chuck E. Cheese (like Spock with a goatee).

We were there early so there were a lot of nicely dressed old people quietly eating dinner with us. It was nice. Although we did hear the couple next to us say that someone named John would definitely get diarrhea if he ate there because of all of the antibiotics he's apparently taking. Julia was fairly well behaved considering the fact that we didn't order her anything to eat. We are bad parents. But we knew that ordering her a $17 cheese toasty would mean it would just sit on her plate. After all, she told us that she wasn't hungry and just nibbled on the bread that came before our appetizers. We are bad parents.

But we're not as bad as the lady two tables away from us who plopped down a DVD player in front of her daughter so she could eat her meal in peace. COME ON. This kid was probably three and carried on a conversation with everyone at her table. Not that we had her health records available, but this little girl didn't seem to have any unusual behavioral problems, she was just your standard issue unreasonable three year-old (similar to the one we were sitting with). But obviously she was unruly enough to require electronic intervention to keep her from screaming obscenities and pulling every one's dinner plates on to the floor.

It just seemed a little over the top. They kept the DVD player's volume low, but it still seemed downright rude to make everyone endure Barney. After all, they paid a lot of money to eat bisque and get their crumbs scraped. Maybe the DVD player was the only way this woman thought she could get out and have a nice dinner. I shouldn't say much because every parent knows that once you've endured one of your kid's complete meltdowns you'll never be judgemental of another parent's solution to pacifying his or her kids. But this DVD thing seemed like a bad choice.

If you're going to risk taking your kid to a nice restaurant, then you should probably have established the look with your child. The look is the expression you put on your face that tells your kid that if she doesn't do what you tell her to do there will be a small nuclear detonation that will destroy everything she's ever loved (including Chuck E. Cheese's). If you don't have the look, take your kid out for noodles while you work on developing the look. Leave the DVD player at home.

I have very little wiggle room to preach. Julia wasn't perfect while we dined. She was out of her seat and kind of loud at times. But I'm pretty sure her behavior wasn't as disruptive as low level Barney sounds.

By the way, Julia screamed bloody murder when we tried to go into Chuck E. Cheese's. She was afraid of the robots. She didn't want anything to do with the robots. We finally got her into the place but only after promising her that we'd stay well away from the robots. She stopped screaming and had a relatively good time. Maybe she would have stopped sooner if we had soothed her with a little Curious George via portable DVD. Hard to say.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to Make a Little Girl's Week

I know it says it's from Nevada, but this box came by way of Huddersfield.

Do you know how Dan and Kerry first met? They both had parents who decided to train their kids to be buskers. By the age of four, Dan and Kerry were forced to spend their days in public areas juggling, bending balloons, biting the heads off chickens and selling origami sculpture.

When they were here, Dan and Kerry identified the same cash generating potential in our children. That's why they sent us a book of origami patterns and some special origami paper to get Allie and Julia started.

As soon as I find a small, live chicken Allie and Julia will be on their way to selling paper penguins up and down the sidewalks during this year's Syttende Mai.

Don't worry Dan and Kerry; you'll get a piece of the action.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Things Are Going GREAT!

Don Ho is dead. Kurt Vonnegut is dead. I almost crapped my pants at the grocery store this evening.

I always had a soft spot in my heart for Don Ho. Any person who can take a marginally catchy tune and parlay it into an entire career is a genius. Plus, he was on the Brady Bunch once and his daughter is Hoku. Hoku sings Perfect Day which is another one of my guilty pleasures. I would never admit to anyone that I really like this song and that it makes me want to throw on a Speedo and run up and down a beach somewhere.

Every time I hear Perfect Day I think of Don Ho and now he's dead.

Same with Kurt Vonnegut. I don't think of him when I hear Perfect Day; but he is dead. I always liked Breakfast of Champions. I don't remember much about the book (although I can't really look at a hand-written asterisk anymore and not think it looks like a sketch of someone's asshole). I do remember that I liked it enough to declare in my mind that Kurt Vonnegut is (was) one of my favorite authors. Welcome to the Monkey House is also one of my favorites but I'm not sure if I could tell you why. All I know is that I'm going to go downstairs and take one of these off the shelf and read it again.

There is a huge zit in my ear. And because it's in my ear, I think I can hear it growing. If it's not getting any bigger, then it's definitely becoming more and more sore. It's also whispering to me at odd times. Mostly it tells me to buy a Speedo. It also reminds me that you should lance a boil but you should always just leave acne alone.

Then there's the crapping my pants thing.

This past week I've been avoiding foods that are bad for me. I've had diarrhea twice so far. Tonight at the supermarket I starting to cramp up in the bread aisle. By the time I got all the way over to frozen foods I was ready to explode into my khakis. The girls were there. I can only thank God for allowing me to avoid the same story being told again and again each Thanksgiving. "Hey Dad! Remember that time you shit your pants at the store?"

As I stood there in the store, trying to master my lower G.I. tract I could feel the sweat bead up on the back of my neck. It was painful and after about five minutes I was confident I wouldn't be giving birth to something horrible right there next to the frozen pizzas. I tried to work out worst-case scenarios but I was really focused on my sphincter. Eventually this emergency passed (in more ways than one) and now here I am typing.

I'm going to lie down now. I have Tiny Bubbles playing in my head. That should be enough to get me to sleep.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Stream of. . .

I deleted the part about the growth on my leg and my mother and siblings being evil.

I've really got to stop posting the first thing that pops into my head. If you were here earlier and read this stuff I'm sure you'd agree. Here's what's left:

I told them not to do the lawn and they did it anyway. They called just a few minutes ago and said, "You told us not to do your lawn. We did it anyway. Are you happy with our service?"

I was very cheerful when I told them that I was happy that they did something I told them not to do and to go ahead and send me a bill for the honor.

I'm going to have my daughter Julia handle all of my future negotiations.

I'm pretty sure the lawn care service will no longer be her best friend and will not be invited to her birthday party.

Allie cried last night because she saw some boys throw rocks at Forrest Gump's head. I had to convince her that the film has a happy ending. I told her that Forrest and Jenny get married and have a little boy named Forrest. I left out the part about Jenny dying. I was thirsty and wanted to be able to get out of her room and get a drink of water. Wait 'til she sees the entire movie someday. Boy is she going to be pissed off at me when she gets smacked in the head by that one.

I've decided that I'm going to start telling people about all of my good intentions rather than actually follow through with any of them. I'm way too tired these days. That should make Christmas really interesting this year.

Four blocks away, someone won the lottery on Sunday. $40 million. I'm not sure if I have anything to say about this other than I wish this person would buy me a cancer sniffing dog.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Ancient Art of English Origami

Smart. Funny. Kind. We already knew that Kerry is a wonderful person. Meeting her in person just cemented our crush. Plus, everyone knows that if you show me how to convert a napkin into a chicken I have no choice but to fall in love.

Dan is nice.

Speaking for myself; the weekend went quickly. There were some peculiar moments – like when the girls and I were sneaking sniffs from the small bottles of shampoo Dan and Kerry had brought with them from England. It was as if we'd never seen toiletries before. In my head I heard a voice say, “Why are we smelling these peoples’ conditioner? Aren't we breaking some law?"

They brought gifts. I don't really remember what they gave our daughters and I think Deb got something. The important part is the assortment of sauces, chutneys and beer they gave to me. I've tried them all (except for the beer). Tonight it was turkey and cheese on a Ritz topped with a generous dollop of apple chutney.

I had eight of 'em.

It was a good weekend. I laughed a lot. I got swept off my feet. I mean, literally. At one point, Dan picked me up. I'm sure his intestines squirted into his scrotum. I can't remember a time when another person actually lifted me off the ground so whatever procedure he'll have to endure is worth it. But these people are full of surprises.

Marcia just called. She wanted to know how our weekend went. She gave me crap for not giving up our bed for Dan and Kerry's comfort. I can't really get my head around the concept of sacrificing for the benefit of others so I didn't have an answer. Then she asked, "Do you miss your friends?"


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Pet Update

The new cats are working out. The girls, for the most part, love them. It seems that Allie has a particular attachment to Rabies (he's the orange one). She's constantly picking him up and holding him like a newborn. Often times, Julia will join in and bury her face in his fur while Allie cradles and strokes him.

Every once in a while, when he's receiving all of this love and affection, Rabies will look over at me. His eyes speak volumes. It's pretty clear what they're saying.

I'm in hell.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Probably the only good thing about waking up at 3:00 is walking around the house and checking on the girls.

Many times I find them sleeping in some weird, contorted position. I get to straighten them out, place their heads back on their pillows and replace their blankets.

It's an opportunity to leave them in what I hope is a warmer, more comfortable state.

Sometimes, 3:00 means I get a chance to do my job.

Friday, March 09, 2007


Dan and Kerry will be here in just a few weeks and Deb and I are a little uptight about showing them a good time. It's not like having your neighbors over and the pizza sucks. These people are traveling over 3,000 freakin' miles. This time, if the pizza is bad, there could be serious repercussions. I'm not saying they'd kill us in our sleep, but we could get a bad reputation. Then all of our overseas friends could potentially turn their backs on us (and I'd really miss Sven).

I've decided the best course of action is to act surprised when they show up.
Dan! Kerry! What a surprise! Was that this month? I knew it was an "M" month but I didn't think that meant March. Wow. . . Oh my god. We were supposed to pick you guys up! I am so sorry. You know, things have been crazy with the thing and everything. You know how that goes. How did you get here? Oh? Yeah, cabs can be expensive but I agree $800 sounds a little out of line. Holy cow. Well, we're glad you're in one piece. You know I promised the girls McDonalds tonight. I hope that's okay. You know I just wasn't expecting you guys here until like July or something. The house is a wreck, but if you walk where I walk there's no risk of tetanus.

You get the picture.

Unfortunately I don't think they'd buy it so I'm working on a loose itinerary:

Friday - Pick up the Hughes in Chicago. Commission a fanfare to be performed in their honor. Nothing elaborate; mainly brass and a small choral group of nine. We'll call the piece, Chicago: Your Gateway to Suburban Madison.

Bring DVD of You've Got Mail for drive home. Avoid any discussion beyond new open road tolling so we won't run through all conversation topics before we reach Wisconsin border.

Once home, immediately get Dan and Kerry sloppy drunk so they believe they're having a good time regardless of what actually happens.

Saturday - Maintain Dan and Kerry's levels of intoxication. Replay You've Got Mail for them. When they say they think they've seen it tell them it's the director's cut with over 20 minutes of new scenes. Take them to the grocery store and lecture them on the superiority of high fructose corn syrup over other sweeteners. Block access to other couples who are more fun, more intelligent, kinder and generally hipper than we could ever hope to be such as Bon Bon and her husband.

Sunday - Slip them a mild hallucinogenic and force Dan and Kerry to read the Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python over and over again. Chastise them for not getting the accents right. Let them use the laptop to contact the Malcolms and request a wire transfer of all the money in their bank accounts. Allow the Hughes to use these funds to replace current home entertainment center. Take delivery of new home theater and make them watch You've Got Mail again but this time in Surround Sound.

Monday - Make the drive time back to the airport seem shorter with another screening of You've Got Mail. Drop off Dan and Kerry and head to other side of terminal to pick up Sven and his wife.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Honey, Where is That Really Strong Magnet?

I spoke up.

I had to say something after I heard Debbie end a sentence with, "...then you can go play in the bathroom."

Tonight will be the third night in a row that Allie and Julia have spent large portions of the evening in the downstairs bathroom.

I told Debbie that there is something wrong with the fact that our daughters want to (and that we allow them to) convert our toilet into Fort Fun.

I can hear noises and the gap at the bottom of the bathroom door allows a few shadows to dance around on the floor. Those two things aren't enough clues to piece together what's happening in there. That's led to visions of Allie offering Julia a bite of the giant blue SweeTart she found in the toilet tank or games of How Long Can You Hold Your Breath While I Lower the Toilet Seat on to Your Neck? being played in that tiny little room.

No - I don't know what happens in there. I only see the aftermath. Like tonight when I had to remove all of the couch pillows from around the toilet before I could pee. And then when I went to flush the toilet it was partially clogged. I shouted upstairs, "Did either of you stick something in the toilet?" Allie shouted back, "I had a big poop."

Most of you already know that my oldest daughter shits baseballs. This is no exaggeration. She is constantly clogging our toilets with these perfectly round bocce balls of excrement. That's the only reason I took her word for it that one of her massive sphincter bombs was the obstruction. This was good. It meant the clog wasn't something for which I was going to have to create some kind of retrieval device. Happily a plunger should be enough, but I haven't tried it yet so I may be unwinding hangers and taping powerful magnets to the end of fishing rods before I go to bed tonight.

Tomorrow night I might go into the bathroom with them and see what the fuss is about. Although that might be a problem. For a normal range of motion, there's really only room for one adult; or just two small little girls.

On second thought, I'll just let them have the bathroom to themselves.