Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reality Check

My boss came to town to go over my annual review.  All went really well, he's happy with my performance, so no worries there.  My company has gone super cheap though.  I mean, they were penny wise and pound foolish to begin, but after our near bankruptcy a couple years ago, it's been rough for everyone who isn't a VP.

We no longer get cost of living adjustments.  We no longer get performance or merit raises.  We get a standard 2% increase if we get a "passing grade" on our reviews.  Let me tell you, it's really depressing knowing that I'll never really get anywhere at this rate...I'm falling a percent and a half every year! They've screwed me before.  They've doubled my work load twice now (I was basically 6 managers for the price of one last year...after pitching a fit last year, I'm only two or three for one) and given me nothing in return for compensation besides a pat on the head and a reminder to just be grateful I have a job.  Yes, it's a crappy company.

So we talked about career pathing.  Basically, I want to move up to make more money and as my manager, it's his job to help me get there...in a way.  I asked him to level with me though.......and he did.........and it sucked!

My next logical step within the company is to be a District Manager of an Airport or of larger territory than I currently run.  The starting pay is between $60 and $70K. 

Me: Would they pay me the appropriate starting wage or would they just bump my pay a little?
Boss:  They'd probably bump you up the max.
Me:  Is the max 50%?
Boss: No, it's closer to 10%.
Me:  Really?  10% is just over 4 grand!
Boss:  Right, and you'd have to fight for that.
Me:  They'd bring someone on from the street at $70K.
Boss:  That's the rub, the internal candidate always gets screwed.
Me:  Then why would anyone stay?
Boss: *shrugs*
Me: They couldn't really expect me to take on a whole new responsibility AND relocate my family for $45K.
Boss: Maybe you should look at lateral moves to bigger cities to build up your base first.  Or go to a poorly performing city and turn it around.  Get noticed more and then have them come after you.
Me:  Basically, work for the same pay or slightly higher in hopes I don't get stuck in some wretched city that they'd never let me leave because it was hard enough to fill in the first place?
Boss:  Just throwing out ideas.
Me: Not feeling very confident right now.

Having a boss who is open and honest with you is a good thing but sometimes that candor comes at a price.

I am not loving my job right now.  I'm definitely hating my company right now.  I need to come up with more money to support my family.  I also need to come up with more money to go back to school and get out of this hell.

*sigh*

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bumper Stickers and Car Art

It's always the crazies, no?
This gem (Not Jem...Hello!)  It's Barbie!  This Barbie Wrapped Hummer is a resident in Round Rock/Austin, TX.  I think women have just as hard of a time growing up as men do. 
There is a guy at the local farmers market whose car I really need to snap off a photo of .  He's a little crazy, so I've avoided doing so because I don't want to get stuck in a conversation with him.  His car looks a little something like this, only crappier and even the windows are covered in bumper stickers.
How did this one slip past the DMV?
Oh yeah, probably the same way this one did...Washington Post article tells all about it. 

I wouldn't have ever figured it out.  I am not surprised though that someone saw this vehicular decoration and decided to figure out what the license plate meant.  Apparently CV is Confederate Veteran and 88 is the numerical equivalent to HH or Heil Hitler! When I was first taking a look though, I was trying to piece together 1 = I, 4C = foresee, but stalled out there.  I think it's a stretch to say the least, but whatever.

Like I said, it's always the crazies!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Craigslist - The Underbelly of Crime

New York Times article this morning has me wondering if TV an Movies maybe warped my expectations of our Law Enforcement Community.  The article basically talks about the triple revenue that will be generated for Craigslist ($36 Million) from the advertisements for Prostitution and Human Trafficking. 

Last year Craigslist had to change one of it's categories from Erotic Services to Adult Services.  Honestly, a lot of people panicked when they announced the section was being removed...where were they going to find hookers now?  A huge sigh of relief came when they announced they were changing the title of the category.  "Gots to find me a submissive!"  I didn't realize they charged for the postings.  It'd make sense that since we all know what's going on and to keep pranksters out of the mix (this is a company/organization trying to make a dime) that they'd collect a fee for the ad.

My issue with this is, how hard would it be to really crack down on this kind of stuff?  They are supposedly also selling sex slaves through the same ad space.  If a whore can post an ad on the back of a local rag and not worry, I don't think they are concerned about the stuff online either.  But human trafficking?  Shouldn't our FBI and Local Police be trolling the site for these kinds of postings?  Intercept the messages between the "buyers" and "sellers?"

Ever watched Law & Order: SVU or any internet based crime on TV or Movie?  Hell, to catch a predator for that matter!  They hack accounts and follow web searches and links all the time.  Why would Craigslist be any different? You get the info and catch them in the act!  It seems like a no-brainer to me.  Maybe that's why I'm a civilian and not the popo.  Just put Chris Hansen on patrol and we'll have this nipped in the bud in no time!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

TV Hell for Parents

Our 18-month-old doesn't have any shows she "watches" on a regular basis.  We have the Your Baby Can Read DVDs and she absolutely loves them, but after a year, I'm ready to let her branch out.  Problem is, I want a show that isn't insanely retarded.  I'm not saying it has to be intellectual or even overly educational, but my single prerequisite (no retardedness) is really difficult to find on toddler-vision. 

Sesame Street wouldn't be bad if it came on after 7am.  Luckily for my wife, our daughter doesn't wake up until after 8am.  My wife approves of the Imagination Movers because they are always singing or at minimum keep our daughter's attention.  So yes, there is a "baby sitter" factor here...any parent who disapproves has probably found another outlet to keep their kids entertained.  Kudos to them.

I'm going to define retarded here.  
  • I hate shows where the majority of the vocab is made up words.  It's fine to have some silly words every now and then, but I expect some real language that my child will be imitating.  For that, Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse sickens me.   
  • I hate shows that mumble or baby speak.  We're dealing with people who have zero grasp on the English language as it is from the previous...set our children up to at least enunciate please!  Teletubbies may not even be on the air any longer, but that was my biggest gripe...screw the straight oddness all around. 
  • Crappy Role Models.  Cailou is a crappy role model.  He is bad...all the time.  He whines...all the time.  He's afraid of the dark.  I realize these are things kids go through, so it might be important to overcome them later in life, but right now she's unable to follow a story arch.  She can only imitate.  Not on our TV.
  • Don't be OVERLY ANNOYING!  Jungle Junction, Dora, Handy Manny, you guys suck and that's all I'm going to say about that.
While Barney may be a parent's worst nightmare...he at least kept the kids singing and dancing.  This my friends is OK by me.  He sings songs that I also sing to her, frankly that's nice, it reiterates what we do and I don't have to learn 100% new songs.  I just introduced our daughter to him today and she was in awe.  Yes, I'm sure when she's 5 I'll want to kill the purple beast, but right now it works. 

I will say this though, she was listening to some song about a marching band being sung to the tune of Old MacDonald and was highly confused.  She stared for a minute and then took off to her tub of books and found this one with animal songs.  She flipped it to the Old MacDonald page and kept looking at the screen and back at the book.  It was like she was fact checking his ass.  I couldn't tell if she didn't like the word change or if she was trying to figure out the new verse.  Made me proud though none the less.

A friend recommended Yo Yo Gabba Gabba because it's less Barney for the parents. The clips I listened to on YouTube have me worried that it has the made up word factor.  I'll give it a shot though.  I test ran The Wiggles as well and it has so much going against it.  I can't understand half of what's being said...Australians aren't known for enunciation.  Then there's the annoying factor that had us at nearly max capacity.  Gonna pass, thanks. 

I didn't mind Dinosaur Train, Doodlebops, Dinosaur Tales, The Backyardigans, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood or Signing Time.  I'm sure there are more that I should look into and probably should really evaluate exactly what I'm wanting her to watch as well.  Frankly, she loves game shows...clapping and cheering.  Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are Top of Her List!

I'm thinking of purchasing Sesame Street, Barney, Signing Time and maybe Blue's Clues DVDs and just scrapping TV scanning altogether.  If anyone reads this and could give some other ideas, I'd really appreciate it.  Please keep the prerequisite in mind.  Thanks.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Organ Donor Beware

I'm an organ donor, well, at least it's checked on my drivers license. 

After high school graduation, I spent a year of my life working as a Nurse Technician in surgery.  I was basically a glorified bio-hazard cleaner...but with some really wild extra responsibility.  I basically did everything that a Nurse and Doctor don't do for a surgery.  I've got a zillion stories, but will save them for a dry blog week.  The gist is that I did everything from shave a patient for surgery, transport them to the surgery room (or morgue...depending on how the next few steps went), prep the room and set out all the equipment and utensils, hold a body part (leg, head, arm, back, heart) for the doc to have a better working angle, hold scopes for endoscopic surgeries, run errands during surgery for the folks in the room, get yelled at for a doctor's screw up because they can never be wrong, to cleaning up the mess left behind after surgery.  Basically, I was the one before, during and after in the room.  Also means, I was the one not having a break like the doctors and nurses. 

One of the messier clean ups and subsequent corpse transportation was for a total harvest.  I know, it sounds like something celebrated with a cornucopia of fruit and a turkey leg, right?  It's where they take a consenting donor and remove all the valuable/working parts.  Here are a few things people don't probably know.  First, they keep your body alive after you've died to remove the corneas, heart and other vital organs that need blood coursing through them to prevent rotting.  (Don't try to argue the resurrection possibilities of a brain dead coma patients with a organ transplant surgeon.)    Also, when they take your bones for marrow transplants they put things back in their place so you look "supported."  The particular one I witnessed eventually had a  PVC pipe skeleton.

I plan to have this done when I die.  Presumably they'll be able to use something...probably not my liver, but definitely my heart, kidneys and corneas and possibly other giblets.  But I think I need to make some stipulations based on some recent articles I've run across.  First is the double arm transplant my cousin's fellow corps member recently received.  Follow the link to the video...freaking inspiring shit!  Then there is this freaky shit.  You remember the crappy Nick Cage/John Travolta flick Face-Off?  Well, apparently it's happened for reals.  Some Spanish doctors were able to keep a secret for a whole month.  Follow the link.  I'm going to believe this site's authenticity.  I can't wait to see this interview!

Note to my wife and family...all organs clear for donation...even my bones.  The exception is my face.  I don't like the idea of someone running around with my face unless I've done the leg work of implanting my sperm into the egg that makes them look like me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Virtual Lemonade Stand - Asking for a Hand Out

I was reading Madam Lamb's blog today and a person posted a comment that piqued my curiosity.  It was a plea for donations to a personal charity to pay for college.  It included a link to her website called Pixels for Lemonade.  Basically, she's selling ad space for a dollar a "pixel."  Pretty ingenious really.  She's asking for 70,000 people world wide to donate a dollar to go toward her college education.  So far she's sold 1 pixel.  Hey, gotta start somewhere.

I've never completed college myself and owe $50,000 right now for a degree I don't have.  I was really bad recently and didn't reestablish my direct debit of $135 a month to EdFund when I got a new debit card.  They called like crazy for a couple months.  We're kinda broke right now, so I wasn't to gun-ho about forking over my cash.  That was a mistake.  They sent me a letter last week stating they were going to garnish 15% of my wages.  We called and they said you can either agree to pay $400 a month or we'll just take it from you.  Needless to say that conversation didn't go over well.  Why was $135 a month OK just 4 months ago and now it's $400 a month minimum?  They certainly showed me who holds all the cards.  DO NOT TAKE A LOAN FROM THE GOVERNMENT....THEY ALWAYS GET THEIRS!!!!!  They began garnishing my wages today.  Nice, huh...I didn't pay for a year and they threatened it, so I set up $135 a month.  Now I miss 4 payments and I get a weeks notice that they'll be taking 15% of my net wages after taxes and withholdings.  Turns out I don't have a leg to stand on....but enough of my own sob story. 

This recent turn of events is why I will not be donating anything to this young lady either.  Frankly, it's your own life, pay for it or earn it.  Hand outs are for low lifes and con men. 

Here's what I wrote on her blog:

As someone who has a massive debt to pay back and doesn't even have the degree to go along with it, I wish you the best in your pursuit here.  I also wish I'd thought of something like this before I sunk myself 50K in the hole.  

First I assume, this isn't a scam, but it probably is.  I assume you have no scholarship options.   I also assume that even if you don't get the full or even a large percentage of funds through your plea for charity that you still attend school.

Education isn't something that you should throw away because the people of the didn't carry you on your shoulders and wallets.  Honestly, people who are successful without degrees are the exception to the rule. 


She does give some recipes for different lemonades.  I really do hope it's not a scam and if it is, I hope no one gets duped.  Only time will tell though. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chocolate Heaven

I've found my Mecca.  Unwrapped showed a Chocolate Bar called Max Brenner's.  Chocolate is a whimsical joyous experience.  Cheers a Choctail to you!  Look here's one in a hug mug now!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sitter Jacked Up My Baby

The past 3 weeks we've been dealing with a stint of lactose intolerance from our 18-month-old daughter.  First, let me tell you...every website sucks in regards to self evaluation of symptoms.  I think they are all afraid of parents suing them for providing accurate info that whack-job-parents misinterpret and possibly kill their kid.  I'm not one of those parents...alas, I know I'm in the minority. 

Because most websites are non-committal, so we just have to read between the lines.  We cut out Milk (been drinking it three-four times daily since she was a year old - breast fed prior) altogether for a full 10 days.  She had really bad diarrhea so we were just giving her Pedialite to compensate.  We re introduced milk and got disastrous results.  So another few days went by and I decided to introduce yogurt and cheese back in.  No reaction aside from occasional diaper rash.  Monday we decided to buy some milk and try it out again.  She's had a rash, but no explodey poo...happiness for my wife. 

What does this have to do with the baby sitter you ask?  Well, first off, she's not our sitter.  We helped a friend whose stay-at-home-husband was out of town for a few weeks by watching her son three days a week for a month.  In return...cause friends don't charge for sitting...she agreed to watch our daughter while we attended Bradley Birth Classes on Monday's for twelve weeks for our second child.  They definitely got more coverage than we have...especially given that we've only gotten 3 or 4 out of the last 7 weeks covered. 

When she watches her, she sucks at changing her diaper regularly...hello, I know they are cloth and therefore don't hold as much, but you have a kid the same freaking age!!!  But that still has nothing to do with the heart of the matter.

She feeds the kids berries and non-meat-chicken-nuggets (I actually approve of these...after all I gave her the idea).  The problem is one week, Berlin ate nothing but berries.  I think they were organic, which means she may not have washed them...people seem to think farmers don't use chemicals or pesticides when it's labeled organic...they just use "eco-friendly products," but they are still chemicals!!!!  That week is when it began.  I'm taking a very simplistic if-this-then-that approach to this.  17 months of no problems...sudden change in routine and blam! I've got my suspect!

OK, so maybe it's not the babysitter's fault and it's just a phase she's going through.  That doesn't fix the problem nor does it make me pocket my accusing pointer finger!  The past three weeks of hell have been baby sitter free because of an out of town meeting, a canceled class and a sick babysitter's baby.  We'll see what this Monday brings.  My hope is no more debilitating ailments. 

The idea that this is permanent is horrifying...not only for the interim hell of my beautiful daughter begging me for milk and having to reject her pleas...but what if the rest of her life she doesn't get to enjoy ice cream, yogurt, milk, sour cream, cheese, etc!  I'm not prepared for that damnation.  Soy milk has been ruled out by recent bad press...that leaves Rice or Almond Milk...G.R.O.S.S.!  We'll continue to introduce milk in small quantities in hopes of clearing this.  DAMN YOU DAIRY FOR BEING SO TASTY!!!!!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Grandpa Mirror

I've mentioned before that I work for a rental companyHere and here too.  So one of the perks of the job (gotta have perks to get paid so little for this much stress) is a free car.  Yes, it's a rental car, but really people...it's a great perk.  I don't have to worry about gas, I don't have to worry about insurance, I don't have to worry about maintenance or repair.  But so I don't have to pay taxes on it like it was part of my salary or something, I have to trade the car out twice a week. 

I usually aim for swapping the car out on Mondays and Fridays.  None of us are as my old boss...he doesn't even bother putting the car on contract and will keep the car for two weeks.  Then he'll just leave it in his parking space for the weekend expecting someone to figure out that he doesn't want it anymore and move it. He's actually complained about the incompetence of another manager because they didn't move his car even though he said (in an empty room) that it was good to go.

Every manager up there makes fun of each other for being so particular about the car they drive.  Apparently none of us notice how hypocritical we are as each and everyone of us is super picky.  I really could list off the two or three go to cars each manager prefers.  Most of the time I grab a recently returned, therefore dirty, car and am good to go.  If it's the weekend, many of my fellow managers make the detail guy give theirs the works.  I am happy to say that I've never abused my power in this way.  But do take a clean car at least once a month. 

Here's where I complain about having a free car...I know I'm a spoiled jackass.  Here are the complaints: 

1.)  Sometimes the selection just sucks!!!!  Or worse, every car I want has some funk nasty BO or some other crazy smell that even our cleaners can't remove.  BO and Smoking are the two worst, but I have to say that Pickles are close to the top (left in a fast food bag in a closed car in 90 degree weather...eew!).

2.)  I have to install the car seat twice a week.  I'm super fast at it now, but anyone who has ever tried to leave a hospital with a newborn and has struggled with the stupid thing knows what I'm talking about.  You can't just use the car's seatbelt any more!

3.)  Unlike my fellow managers, my office when not at home has four wheels.  Therefore I have to move EVERYTHING over every time I switch cars.   So I end up leaving tons in my garage because I don't want to move things constantly.  Then I end up not being prepared when I need some random item I usually would have while at one of my stores.  This is why the sales managers pay taxes on theirs...they keep their cars for a month at a time but don't have to transfer over their marketing crap twice a week.

4.)  I have to learn a new car completely.  Seats are different!  Can I just say that the radio is a big deal given that I'm driving 50% of the time...but I'll not go beyond that statement.   I have to adjust the mirrors, and figure out the AC and find the freaking 12 volt adapters for my phone charger.  One of the worst is finding the dome light.  Yes the dome light...absolutely no consistency and when do you use this?  In the dark, so I'm fumbling around in the 4 main areas they hide these things until I nearly have a wreck and just start yelling at the kid instead of providing light for my wife to locate the thrown pacifier!  But seriously, adjusting to a new car is difficult until you're used to it.  An opportunity I rarely have.

My god, I'm just now getting to the actual reason for the blog.  It's sad when the back story to get you to the meat is twice as long as the actual post itself.  But you're still with me, and that's a good thing.  So the new Ford SUVs we've had for the last 6 months or so have had a new feature.  Do you remember those Grandpa Mirrors on cars?  No, that's not what they're actually called, but I only see them on commercial vehicles and Cars Old Men Drive. 
Well, Ford has decided that they'd improve the concept and embed it into the side mirror.  Really nothing new there, but it's where they chose to place the stupid thing!  Here is a shot of me driving.  It doesn't translate the best, but I was driving, so I couldn't bother making sure the angles were perfect or anything.  If I'd held my IPhone up to my eye, You'd see that the side mirror view is consumed by this tinier mirror. 

Basically where you normally look, the upper left corner of the left mirror and the upper right corner of the right mirror now have a secondary mirror there.  It does give you the convex super view the old man mirror provided.  I just get distracted and have to search for my regular view.  This may not seem like a big deal...a few weeks of driving a the car and I'd adjust right?  Wrong, I don't drive the same car for and entire week, let alone for weeks and months!!! So in the mean time, instead of glancing at my mirrors, I'm freaking studying them as I drive.

I guess it shouldn't really bother me...some of our cars have those back up cameras in the rear view mirror...that was trippy the first few times.  Some have the little pop up window display of your speed in the windshield.  Some have the compass direction in your mirror as well.  This though was the biggest distraction I've encountered outside of blind spots since driving.  Distractions while driving are BAD. 

As a side note...I was looking for an actual image of a grandpa driving a car with one of these.  My Google filter must be turned off because there were some very, er, unique images of grandpas in cars.  To be honest, you'd have to swap the word Grandpa with "Boy Parts" and Cars with "Purdy Mouth" to make that last sentence accurate!  Instead here is a safe for work image that I did find amongst the porn. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19th

I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and now live in Austin, Texas.  Each are very close to the following two incidents.

I remember the Waco incident very vividly.  The raid ended on April 19, 1993.  I was young and my parents and many of my family members were going through an interested-in-militias stage.  I hated this.  My whole family is very non committal, so I wasn't worried about being the next Ruby Ridge or anything, but it made me very uncomfortable nonetheless.   The conspiracy theories and pamphlets eventually disappeared.  I am happy to say that while they are all still very republican and therefore anti-big-government, they are all normal functioning adults in the world. 

Two years later on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City in protest against the event.  He killed a lot of people, kids included.  We were about to take a test in Mr. Maule's freshman science class.  The Sophomores were dissecting fetal pigs that week so the lab tables had the carcasses in the back of the room.  The formaldehyde smell was overwhelming.   We cut through the "chemical den" between that block of science classes into another teacher's room.  It was his off hour so we had an empty classroom to fill.

On the TV in that class was the news about the bombing.  It took a couple minutes for it to spread through the whole class what we were watching.  It took even longer for what we were watching to sink in.  None of us could wrap our minds around the fact that this was in OKC, let alone in America!  This kind of crap happens in the Middle East or Africa, not here at home!  When we found out it was an American who did it, the whole thing was even worse.

I'm not going to go into any analysis of the ins and outs of these two incidents.  I just wanted to share my small experience with them and to honor those lost 15 years ago at the Murrah Building.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Netflix on Wii

I've been using Netflix since 2002.  Aside from infrequent minor hiccups, I've been very happy with the service I'm paying for.  When I heard PS2 was getting Streaming Instantly I was SOOOO jealous.  I've got a Wii and the exact thought that went through my mind was "It won't take long for them to come out with the Wii version now that they've figure it out and it'll be freaking awesome!"  Well I was half right.  It took them forever to come out with the version for Wii! 

I've used the streaming instantly every so often.  When I first took this job a few years ago, I hadn't been given a laptop yet and was stuck running a very slow store.  I'd bring my personal laptop and aircard and be completely content on those long 10 hour days.  We've watched many movies from bed, at home of hotel, when we didn't have a movie in at the time or if we just really wanted to see something specific. 

I hooked the pc up to the TV once...the red, yellow and black ports don't exist on my laptop so I had to hook speakers up to the pc as well.  Frankly, it was a HUGE pain and for some reason every 5-10 minutes I'd have to reset the full screen viewing.  I'd seriously considered dropping a Benji on the streaming box they came out with a couple years ago.  I opted to save the cash and now am happy I did.

They mailed me out my Wii disc on Thursday.  We didn't try it out until today and it works great.  Two bad points that have noting to do with Netflix whatsoever.  My daughter associates the Wii control with playing, so she's constantly trying to get to it, thus pausing/stopping the viewing.  The real down side shows just how big of couch potatoes my wife and I are.  We watched our first episode of Dr. Who and Dead Like Me.  Seriously, as though TV On Demand wasn't bad enough!  Now we can watch nearly any Television show we want on this thing too.  I know I'll be watching Lost and Heroes finally on it.  I might even get to see the Californications, Dexters and Tudors we've missed since we canceled Showtime.

Gawd, we're awful.  Thank you Netflix for revealing our true nature.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Discoveries in the Neighborhood

My wife had a baby shower to attend today so it was just me and the kid for a few hours.  I loaded her up in the stroller and set out for a long walk.  We ended up walking about four and a half miles once it was all said and done...hella work out for lazy ole me!  I stopped on a little "bridge" to check out a barricade that presumably some kids had thrown over the side.  Once I got closer I heard a babbling brook.  I've walked this street dozens of times and never noticed it before.  I think I've even looked over this bridge before.  The recent week of rain has given life to this beautiful little surprise.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find blue bonnets still in bloom.  I'd assumed the season had passed, let alone the rain on Easter and this whole week.  Yet here they stand!

Not so bad shots given the crappy camera on my IPhone.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Dean!

My best friend Dean would be 29 today.  Garrett Lee "Buff" Dean died the day before my daughter was born.  He never got to meet my family.  Her birth helped me get through what would have been a really bad time in my life.  I think he'd appreciate the timing if he could.  I miss you Buddy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

Just finished filing my taxes.  We began filing in February.  Turbo Tax has been my friend for 10 years now!  With my wife only working half of last year and having ZERO withheld from her unemployment we didn't make as much as we usually do, nor did we pay as much in as we usually do.  We were set up to receive $9 total return.  With the $40 we had to pay to Turbo Tax, I wasn't really in a rush to net a negative figure.

Single digits means something good though.  It means I didn't owe...Can I get a Hell Yeah?  It also means Uncle Sam wasn't out on the town with my money the whole year.  It's the small victories.

I sat down this evening and realized we hadn't imputed our student loan interest.  Hooray for an extra $300 coming to us!!!!  It may have been more but Sallie Mae wouldn't let me on her site to find my info.  Here's what she had to say about it!  
Screw you too Ms. Mae for keeping my tied up in an endless loop of online forms just to make me call you so you can record my acknowledgment of overdue student loans...Bitch!  We pulled the wife's info, so at least there is something going in.  I also found the info paid on my other student loan, so happiness to at grand total of $309 going into my bank account in a week or so!

I will say this to Turbo Tax though...y'all are dicks for upping the price $10 midway through tax season.  I got an email warning me to file by the end of March to avoid it.  I think they were trying to show impressive figures for Q1 2010...all about the Share Holders in this economy!  Whatever though, by waiting, I got a little summun extra.  Happy Tax Day!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Babies Like Cat Food

Since my daughter became mobile, the cat has spent very little time in open spaces.  And once she began to walk every cabinet and container was fair game too.  She is not shy about it either.  She'll look you dead in the eye as you shout "Berlin, stay out of the cabinet!"  Not everything is baby proofed because I'm a bad father.  Chemicals are locked up...do not call Child Protective Services on me! Her favorite unguarded item is the cat food container.

Jack, my cat has a little place in the nook of the dining room with his food and water.  Next to it is a container with a flip lid that holds 20 pounds of cat food.  Before you say it, I know I should put it in the garage or somewhere else locked up so she cannot get to it.  To that, I say screw off, this is about the day to day crap.  If I had to walk to another room or unlock his food every time I went to feed him.......let's just say I'm a bad pet parent too and leave it at that, OK? 

She loves to get into his food.  She loves dropping it into his water.  She loves, loves, loves eating the crap!  I have the philosophy that it's not going to kill her...redeeming my self here...after all it is organic cat food!  If I make a big deal out of it, she'll only want to do it more.  Yeah, so my wife doesn't see things my way.  She FREAKS OUT!  Cheeks are squeezed, fingers dug around, lots of yelling...you'd think it was a string of pearls or something going down our child's gullet!

This morning was no different than any other, Berlin watched me fill up his water from the dispenser.  See I just redeemed myself again...he drinks the same bottled/filtered water from the thingy that we do! She then watched avidly as I scooped some food into his bowl.  As I walked off, she reached over and grabbed a piece of cat food and shoved it in her mouth.  I ignored it.  It's the best way. If I don't yell or pay any attention, she won't associate it with a positive reaction.  In theory, she'll not do it again!

Nah Uh!

Wife: WHAT DID SHE JUST PUT IN HER MOUTH?
Me:  What do you think, she's at the cat's food?
Wife: TAKE IT OUT OF HER MOUTH!!!
Me: Why, it's just cat food?
Wife: BECAUSE I DON'T WANT HER EATING CAT FOOD!
Me: Fine.  Wow she's got some serious strength in these jaws!
Wife: Should have stopped her before she did it.
Me. Thanks, Come on Berlin, open up.
Wife: Squeeze her cheeks, she'll open up.

(Seriously?  So gross, half of it was gone anyway.)

Wife: I can never trust her with you!
Me: Don't be so dramatic. (walking off to wash my hand)
Wife: I'm gonna come home and half the food will be gone!
Me: Seriously?
Wife: I don't know, you can't even keep an eye on her when you're standing right next to her.
Me: Not having this arguement.

Just wait till she finds the litter box!  That's gonna be AWESOME!  

Shopping Carts Bring Out The Worst In People

I'm one of those neurotic people who have to have certain things put back in place.  Not everything though mind you.  I don't even know if there is any connection between these things either.  I'm entirely disorganized at work yet before packing up my laptop, I meticulously wrap the cord around my power adapter in the exact same manner every time.  Honestly, if it's wasn't done because I was in a hurry, I've even pulled it out and corrected it at a stop light on the road.  Stupid crap like that, you know?  I'm sure there is a psychological break somewhere from my days in daycare that's sparked it.

Shopping carts are another one of those things.  I'm not the type to always walk it back to the front of the store.  But if it's about the same distance, I'll choose the extra few feet to the door opposed to the cart return.  So when I see crap like this:
I get really irritated.  This was at a local H-E-B grocery store, six cars away...really?  The cart returns are always with in a few second walking distance.  It's not like they make us return them to the front unless of course you're parked friggin' closer to the front.  People just become inexplicably exaggeratedly lazy after they've shopped or something.  Do you punish the store because you chose not to have someone help you out to your car with your groceries?

There is a series of commercials for a local blood donation bank that depict people doing dispicable acts and stating that donating blood will make up for the bad karma essentially.  There is one where a lady is directly beside the cart return and she looks at it, turns and shoves her cart across the aisle into the grass.  I cringe, but that's really what I envision when I see stray carts around.

Every time I visit my store inside a Wal-Mart, inevitably the only open space near the front is occupied by a shopping cart in the space.  I expect lazy here!  It still irritates me none the less.

Here on the other hand is an example of poor planning.  This is a Baby's R Us location.  This is the Expected Mother Parking section.  Fine, I understand it sucks being pregnant in Texas...it is only April, but I'm not going to judge.  Why wouldn't you put a cart return right next to this section?  Your employees wouldn't even have to walk as far...time is money after all.  Instead note just how far away the return is from the section right in front of the store.  It's going both ways here!

There, that's my only exception.  If you are one of those people who chose this time as your only outlet for laziness, shame on you.  Your mother would be so ashamed.  If you're just lazy and this is no different than your normal way of life, go to hell, the rest of us are tired of cleaning up your messes!  (Exiting the Soap Box Arena)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Blog

I've made references to being a lazy fat ass before.  I'm only 30 years old and frankly I'm not supposed to be this size or shape.  I've tried several things to drop pounds and get in shape.  All of them have been thrown by the way side because I'm LAZY.  I'm also highly inconsistent. 

The last few months though, I've tried to be extremely consistent with maintaining this blog.  I appreciate those of you who read and especially those of you who follow me.  It's been quite depressing sometimes to look at my meager followers list and realize that ultimately I am doing this more for me and shouldn't worry about who is and who isn't reading my insane thoughts. 

So in the spirit of doing something for me, I've started a second blog.  I am going to log my diet and exercise.  My goal is not to try some crazy fad diet, it is specifically to control portion size, be conscious of caloric and fat in take, and finally incorporate actual exercise into my routine.   The blog will do two things for me that will hopefully keep me on track. First, keeping an actual log of my food will be monumental...it's easy to over eat when you're not actually taking notice.  Second is while I don't have many followers, I still don't want to have to display to everyone just how lazy and fat I remain.  Putting it out there for the "whole world" to see will help keep my perspective focused. 

I am not necessarily excited about this idea, but I'm definitely anxious to make it work.  So if you'd like to support me along the way...or poke fun a little bit, you can find me over here too.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things Father's Shouldn't Know

I was pulling my credit score today and was given more information than I was expecting.  The freescore.com folks use a company called Identity Check 24 for their information.  In case you cared, they only give you Experian credit score for free.  Since everyone seems to use Equifax...meaning your FICO score, I guess I'll just have to pay up for the real deal. 

I was about to pull my report when something on the page caught my eye.  This company is an identity theft protection and more service provider.  On the page was a map of my neighborhood and all of the REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS!!!!

It doesn't show their exact address (the last two numbers are XX out) but it does show name, picture, physical stats, and a dot on the friggin' map.  Here is my neighborhood below:
Yes that's 19 creepy pedofile/rapists in my neighborhood.  WE LIVE NEXT TO AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL!!!!!!!  Can I just say that stereotypes really do fit.  Or maybe it's just our survival instinct to be wary of predators.  Every one of the child molesters (scarily the majority of the 19 were this category) had that "Look." 

I'm not sure how to best describe the look, but there is just something sinister in the longing they seem to exude.  I was truly terrified for the little girl in Con Air that Steve Buscemi's character had found.  He played that too well.

I didn't need to be armed with this information.  I'm already a father of a daughter, that my friends is terrifying enough...this though is vigilante inspiring.  I should not have looked.  I'm terrified to walk around the block now.  How can they live so close to an elementary school?  I'm going to get myself worked up and not have a real outlet for my fear and rage. 

The rest appear to be rapists.  Not sure what to think there.  I plan on showing these things to my daughter before she starts dating.  She needs to see that rapists look like normal guys.  As for the pedophiles, I'm not sure how we will have the stranger danger talk.  That'll be a fun discussion with my wife no doubt.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Exotic Pets and Douchbaggery; Direct Correlation?

I'm a traditionalist in my pet keeping history and philosophy.  Cats, dogs, fish...good pet material.  Snakes, rodents, insects and birds are a stretch for me.  Personally I don't think a bird should be caged. People could argue the same about fish.  Cats and Dogs are entirely domesticated and live very difficult lives without humans, but survive just the same. In fact, many parts of the world do not keep "food" as pets (I'm talking about you Asia!).

Snakes, Rats, Ferrets, Guinea Pigs, Tarantulas, Sugar Gliders (Australian Flying Chipmunk thingy...a friend in college had one that wouldn't leave her boom box speaker) and Rabbits are on the not-for-me-list because frankly I'd kill their cousin in a second...what really makes them any different?

I don't think I'm alone in my thinking about what makes a good pet and what should be left to the wild.  Talk to most about Siberian Tigers, Macaques, Chimps and the like and I'm pretty sure most people would say...WAY TO DANGEROUS!  None the less, folks have them.  I think it's a disorder for the most part.  Somewhere in the recesses of the mind we feel to domesticate and keep anything as a pet is a form of superiority, so the bigger and more dangerous, the better.   Not to mention the douche bag factor that skyrockets when you stroll through a party with a panther on a leash. 

So on my way to the store today I saw a guy walking this on a leash.  I was using my IPhone at a stop light, so it's a crappy picture I zoomed in on.
Here's a picture of what one of these things looks like up close and personal. 
It is called a CAPYBARA.  It's the world's largest rodent.  They hail from South America...I know, surprise right, largest anything coming from the Amazon?  Apparently they are much more common as pets than I realized.  I'd seen one in a zoo before but as I was looking for it's name today I ran across a bunch of accounts of people keeping them in America.

He actually looks pretty cool...douche bag factor aside...this is just not right.  The word rodent comes from Latin word rodere which means TO GNAW!  A rodent has to gnaw at stuff to keep it's giant front teeth from growing forever.  I'm not saying this thing would eat you in your sleep, but I'll be damned if I go near one who hasn't recently eaten.  I'd say to each their own, but that doesn't apply to the douche bag walking this creature down Brodie Lane today.  He's drawing attention and as you can see others are touching it..."pardon me ma'am, mind if my capybara uses your ulna as a chew toy?"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cabrito...Yes I Ate a Baby Goat!

We were out and about this evening running errands.  Afterward, we needed sustenance.  I'd passed this El Paso style Tex-Mex place many time and tonight was it's opportunity to shine!  We stopped in during the end of Happy Hour.  They had a free, self-serve-mini-appetizer bar which was cool...queso, beans, cheese quesadillas, etc.  The happy hour margarita was neither here nor there, but as I was finishing it I heard the waiter tell another table they had Negro Modelo on tap.

Negro Modelo ON TAP!!!  Hands down, the reason I will return.  I've never found a place outside of Tia's Tex-Mex that even has Dos Equis Amber on tap.  (Darkish Mexican Beers estan muy bueno)  This was monumental for me...fine, I might have an alcohol problem.

The icing on the cake was that the food was really good.  Tina had tortilla soup and an El Paso style enchilada.  Berlin ate my beans...really good too.  I enjoyed something entirely new to me.  Cabrito.  I saw the name and instantaneously envisioned "El Chupa Cabra!" (Mexican Urban Legend along the same lines as our Big Foot or the Nepalese Yeti or French Loup Garou)  Chupa Cabra literally translates to Goat Sucker. I don't know why there is a tie to sucking ala vampires, but this little monster supposedly attacks people as they cross the country side...NEVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN...MWAHAHAHA!

Cabrito thus means little goat.  This dish was literally slow roasted baby goat.  It was served with grilled onions and peppers and guacamole.  I know, I know, I'm a bad person for eating a baby anything!  Those of you who have ever enjoyed veal know what's up.  This was awesome.  It was tender, flavorful, all around good freaking food!

I highly recommend this place...even though my wife hated the enchilada.  I liked it, it was very traditional Tex-Mex, especially from El Paso.  Go, enjoy.

Race Issues, Confederacy Month

I am a little racist.  I've admitted it before.  I actually think the mentally handicapped and the blind are the only ones who are semi-immune to it.  Our skin is right there for all to see.  Our stereotypical actions are right there for all to see.  Chris Rock and Carlos Mencia wouldn't be able to mock every race on Earth if these stereotypes didn't have serious truth to it.  But I don't hate or fear any group of people.  No matter how much we preach equality, we all still segregate ourselves.  Within our little groups, we all have our crazies and bad apples.  These are the ones who stand out.

I'm going to limit my soap boxing here as I'm a hypocrite for the most part.   I want race issues to be behind us and in the same breath will bitch and moan about Middle Easterners and Asians.  You know what they say about pointing fingers...you always have three pointing back at yourself.  But I've been seeing posts today from my "brown friends" and my "white friends" about the Virginia Jack Ass who made a proclamation about having a Confederate History Month.  Look, white folks are weirded out by Black History month.  We don't have White History Month because we would all die if we proposed it.  This is the answer!

Any Confederate Pride Person AKA Southern Jack Ass, who tries to say the Civil War wasn't about slavery is technically speaking true words, but they are leaving out the connection we all have with the end of slavery and the Civil War.  It's like someone having Nazi Pride.  Sure there was more going on with WWII than Hitler slaughtering Jews, but no one would ever think Nazi Pride meant anything else.  Same goes for the Civil War.  Slavery is linked to it, regardless of how and why the war began.

As I stated in my Facebook comment to a friend about this topic...We White Republicans need mature a bit and get off that low road we've strolled along to get here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Why Garbagemen SUCK!

I am about to venture into the cantankerous old curmudgeon zone and I'm only friggin' 30 years old!

We have trash service every Monday.  Recycling service falls every other Monday.  Since the new single stream recycling program came along that accepts nearly EVERYTHING, we could get away with only putting our trash out twice a month and some times even less!  I'm not joking, we only go through a bag of trash a week in the kitchen and one from the baby's nursery.  If vacations hit just right or I've missed (woken up late) a few trash days, we've actually gone a full month without using the garbage service.  Conversely, I cannot skip a recycling pick up...unless we've been on vacation. 

So, since I'm paying an outrageous fee for a service I could literally reduce by 75%, I get really irritated when I come home to this at my house. 
This happens at least 80% of the time.  Yes that's a made up on the spot statistic that is reasonable as basically once every other month my trash can will land vertically.
Can I just tell you that I do not envy the days of metal trash cans and neighborhoodrats bashing them up nor the noise involved.  I do however miss knowing that a profession that deals with the WORST part of my home is paid well for their contribution.  But now days, this isn't hard work for a trash man.  There isn't a guy hanging on the back of the truck inhaling a community's rotting leftovers and dirty diapers!  There isn't a man who has sacrificed pride and a weak stomach to touch the untouchable! 

What is there then?  There are a couple guys riding in an air conditioned cab of a giant machine pressing a button every other minute.  This clamp literally lowers down around the can and a hook catches the front.  It then raises the receptacle in the air, inverting it so it loses its contents into the top of the truck's bin.  It is then supposed to replace the trash receptacle to it's original position.

Remember, I do not always use this service...yet at least once a month, there is still a bag or more in the bottom of the f*ing can!  Usually it gets hung up on a broken dry cleaning hanger or a piece of Styrofoam wedged just right.  Sure they are abnormal, but if an actual person tipped it over, they'd see it and do it again!   No these guys never even step foot outside the truck, let alone touch the can. 

So when they press their lever to lower the can that they may or may not have emptied, they don't wait for it to fully release before they've begun driving to the next garbage can.  Thus the reason most of our trash cans are knocked over every week.

Oh, and before you say it, I know it's not the aforementioned hoodrats.  While I wouldn't put it past them, I've seen it myself.  I'll be leaving for work and hear them coming around, so I'll wait to pull the can up from the street.  Bam, tossed out on the street like an unwanted kitten. 

Seriously, I sound like an 85 year old retiree who has nothing better to do than complain about the insignificant happenings just outside his front door.  But I'm paying for a service I only half need and am getting NOTHING for it.  I should just start stealing trash service like the lowlifes that dump UNBELIEVABLE amounts of crap around my locked dumpster at my South store on the East side! 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Do You Call a Vegetarian with Diarrhea?

Now that I've planted that fresh and clean image in your head...

We attend a Bradley Method birth class on Mondays.  One tenant of the method is that good nutrition is key to preventing many pregnancy complications.  Also, high protein intake is important for the development of the fetus and ensures mommy creates enough extra blood during the pregnancy.  Therefore each mommy has to track the food she eats every day.  The sheet we use has the basic parameters for a weeks proper prenatal nutrition.  You check off the number of meats, dairy, nuts, grains, fruits, green veggies, yellow veggies and fruits, etc.  You also calculate the protein in grams you're consuming.  This is the tricky one.  The goal is to eat at least 80-100 grams of protein daily.  We've learned there is an amazing amount of protein in things you'd never suspect.  It has also caused us to look at our nutritional content very closely. 

Each week one couple from the classes brings a healthy snack to share with the group.  We've decided to bring smoothies.  We do not want to purchase protein powder to bulk up the smoothies since that'd require serious research for pregnancy safe, let alone regular folk safe and not "bulking" or weight gain inducing stuff.  My mom let me borrow this book she just happened to have out when we went to visit yesterday.  It's called The Green Smoothies Diet by a lady named Robyn Openshaw.  

This lady is vegan and let me just say, I do not think vegans are right in the head.  Yes you vegans who accidentally stumbled upon this can call me an ass, but it's not my commitment, so just move on and go adopt a cow or save a seal pup!

She did get us thinking seriously about how to incorporate super protein packed spinach and other essentials into our smoothies.  She doesn't add yogurt and obviously milk based protein powders are a big no no, so she's had to become creative with her contents.  This was enlightening and once again made us start scrutinizing our nutritional data.  It also got me thinking how three smoothies a day would make the inventor of adult diapers a lot of money!

Can I just tell you how difficult it is to find nutritional data about anything?  Just tracking the food has been frustrating for my wife as she can't always find protein counts.  Regular food on the shelf has a nutritional label, so that's fine, but what if you don't eat an entire can of something...it's mixed into an actual meal.  I'm not going to measure every minor thing and then try to calculate the nutritional value.  I can barely remember the quantities I've poured one minute to the next, let alone after the meal!  Then there is the super secretive restaurant/fast food joint "food."  Not going there, I'm pretty sure countless blogs exist just griping about it.

But produce doesn't come with nutritional labels!  Try doing a Google search for the nutritional value of acai juice...let alone trying to find the calories and protein content.  You get a dozen pages of people who are selling the crap and touting the antioxidant values of the super fruit...not one lists even the caloric quantity, let alone the protein.  (juice has none to 1 gram per serving...no clue on the actual berry)  Lance Armstrong's Live Strong website has a lot of data, but it is still pretty limited.  We found one site that we pulled a ton of info on and used it for the majority of our research.  It claimed guava had 4.21 grams of protein yet the frozen whole guava at the store only claimed 1 gram.  Lance's site even has both listed with different serving sizes labeled one serving.  WHY DO THEY MAKE IT SO FREAKING DIFFICULT?

Shouldn't we as Americans, let alone humans want this info readily availble?

Maybe I'm just a fat ass and this is my first round of really delving in to nutrition that wasn't a school requirement and don't know where the skinny people have hidden the secret treasure yet!  So now I'm left questioning every bit of info on the infallible Internet and thinking I should just make standard Strawberry Banana smoothies (maybe throw in some spinach to see if I notice the flavor) and be happy with the INCREDIBLE amount of protein Stonyfieilds Organic Oikos Greek Yogurt contains...23 grams per cup!!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tipping Guam Over



You have GOT to be kidding me! Seriously...smokin' the ganga!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Topless March in Maine

When I saw a tweet about this, I obviously had to investigate...after all, I have an obligation to the people not reading this blog, right?  At least that's the story I'm telling my wife.  Pretty sure that's why Karma hates me.

So apparently it is not illegal for women to be topless in public in Maine.  A group of ladies who want equality decided to use this convenient fact to their advantage.  They staged a Topless March.  After all, men can strip off their shirts any time they want, why shouldn't women.  AMEN Sister!  Though, you do basically live in Greenland, I'm pretty sure there aren't droves of men nor women in scantily clad attire when you're lucky to see temperatures over 40!  According to the article by the time it was over nearly 500 people had joined.  These included men in dresses along side the booby showing women. 

This is where karma got its snicker in.  The ladies were less bare breasted beauties and more like rotund raunchy rug-eaters.  Ah well, they were fuzzed out in the video anyway, so maybe it's just as well...I didn't really miss anything.  But fear not loyal/occasional/accidental reader, I will remain an avid amateur investigator for all breaking stories you cannot live with out. 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

June Bug Season...WARNING Bug Talk Below

Learned two new facts tonight doing light "research" for this post.  Research meaning I looked it up on Wikipedia...knock it if you want, but most of the stuff on there isn't completely unreliable...especially if you're not looking stuff up about people.  I actually looked up June Bugs.  Before I began typing, I wanted to make sure I wasn't being just another Okie who calls something by a name ignorantly.  I'm referring to Locusts with that reference.  The link there is hilarious, so follow it!  People in Oklahoma (and I assume many other parts of the country) call Cicadas locusts.  Cicadas are those things that live in the ground for something crazy like 7 years before they climb up a tree and crack out of their skin.  They chirp/sing so loud at night it's the only thing you can hear during their mating season. 

I remember hearing about John the Baptist eating locust when I was in Sunday School back in the day and thinking...OMG THAT IS SOOOOOOO DISGUSTING!  HE'S EATING BUG SHELLS!  I soon learned later that locust is some kind of pod from the middle east...kinda looks like a tamarind pod to me.  I'm pretty sure no one teaching this to kids thinks any differently, so that just shows you how ignorance begets ignorance.  

Look, you've already learned so much that you never need to know and I haven't even told you about my RESEARCH!  So I have seen these really bright green beetles that shimmer rainbows called both Japanese beetles and June bugs.  No I wasn't trippin' when I saw them, they really do shimmer a like a rainbow in the light.  I wanted to make sure we were all talking about the same bug when I called it a June Bug.  The interesting facts that I learned aren't any thing major, but if you've ever been digging in your garden and seen those little grub worms (at least that's what I grew up calling them) that are white with orange heads and black butt, they are the larvae of June Bugs.  I was always afraid to hold them because I thought the bit...in hind sight, I'm pretty sure my dad told me that just to scare me as a child.  Guess what Mother Effer, it worked! 

The second thing my research led me to was that the June Bug is from the scarab beetle family.  So if you didn't know what those were, I can only tell you that the Mummy trilogy with Brenden Frasier used them a lot as a destructive force.  They are like the piranhas of the bug species. Unlike locust that devour plants, scarab beetles devour flesh.  Look Ma!  I'm tying my wild meanderings from the beginning back to the main story!  If she read my blog, I'm sure she'd be proud.

So the scarab thing is important to making a point that has now had an incredibly long build up...which I'm afraid may be a let down once you get to it.  But anyhoo, you've come this far, why turn back now?

My wife HATES June Bugs!  Now that I think about it, so does good ole Ma.  Neither of them love bugs, but I have to say, these might be the worst for them.  Nope take back that in terms of my mother, I think she hates water bugs (ooh ooh ooh, another colloquialism gone wrong somewhere, they are also called Palmetto Bugs) which most people think are giant cockroaches. 

My mom has issues with any bug that flies at her.  That goes doubly for my wife, especially with June Bugs.  They catch in her beautifully curly hair.  Which I get the pleasure of trying to settle her down long enough for me to free the retarded flier from her curly locks. Maybe they have every right to fear them...after all scarabs can seemingly devour your whole body in a matter of minutes. 

I still don't know how these things have survived as long as they have, they seem to have zero eye sight.  They just seem to fly until they hit something and grasp with their spiny legs.  But god help them if they land on their backs...they are helpless.  They will spin around for ever trying to grasp anything to help them flip over.  You'd think natural selection would have weeded them out...but then I keep saying the same thing about the Kardashians and yet they're multiplying like crazy now! 

We made a quick run to the store this evening.  We were gone no longer than 20 minutes.  We left the porch light on since it was dark.  This is what we came back to.  Yes that is over a dozen June Bugs on our screen door.  There are countless more on the porch itself.  I am pretty sure my wife didn't take a breath from the time she cornered the garage till I'd unlocked and opened the front door.  If she wasn't pregnant, I would have been tossing a couple at her just for pure sadistic pleasure.

Wow, an entire blog about creepy crawlies...Grissom would be proud.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Parent of the Year Award Goes to...

Parent of the year?  It's not me, that's for damn sure!

We went to a 3-year-old's birthday party today.  Being the day before Easter, there was a definite theme going on.  It's all good, exploit the holiday...we did with ours.  Her birthday falls 3 days after Halloween, so we had a Halloween, costume party for her first...trust me too cute having a flock of toddlers in costume.  Back to Easter, there was an Easter Egg Hunt in the back yard.  But like any party, people were inside and out talking and keeping an eye on the lil' 'uns.  We were there about 3 hours, the majority of which was outside.

In case you didn't know (common topic, but for you first timers) me, my wife and daughter are all red heads.  Creepy, I know, but whatever, it's the life we've chosen...wait that's not true, it's genetic, but we've stacked the deck in our favor to breed more of us for the world to deal with.  Any way, we were BAD PARENTS!  We didn't think twice about sunscreen until it was too late.  My little girl, because we live in Texas, gets slathered with SPF 1,000,000 constantly.  Today though, nope, nada, didn't cross our minds until we'd been outside for at least an hour and a half.  Someone was sheilding her eyes from the sun and both my wife and I said "Oh No, she really needs some sunsblock!"

Too late...whatever, being burned is part of a red heads life, it's incredible she's 17 months old before we failed her on this front.  All three of us are pink this evening.  Used the last of our Hawaiian Tropics Lidocane ICE gel.

This is not her only "First" of the day though...that would be too minor.  She got her first busted lip as well.  Like her incredibly coordinated parents she has the occasional misstep.  She was trying to go back inside at the party and slipped off the step and did a face plant into the door frame.  Good grief!  She's bawling, my wife and I sprang to rush her off to the bathroom.  She cut her nose and chin and bloodied her lip.  I'm a really great parent as I snapped off this photo instead of actually helping do anything!
First casualty of the day.  There were a dozen toddlers, so this was not the first injury, but certainly the only involving blood!  There was a kiddie swing hung on the porch that at some point every child rode.  Also at some point every child nearly got a kick in the head as the passed too close to the flight path!  Ours of course was one of the lucky ones to make contact with the soaring child!  She cried some more...we didn't hang out too much longer after that awesome feat of anti-survival instinct kicking in!

So, no, me nor my wife are one of those parents who can carry on conversations while maintaining a constant eye on our child.  You'd think that with 4 eyes, we might be able too keep watch, but sadly reality is not that fantastic.  Our bun in the oven doesn't stand a chance huh?  Two under two, you might as well call child protective services now before we do some real damage...ONLY JOKING PEOPLE!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Body by Jake - Tower 200...Step 1, Open the Box!

A couple blogs I follow have a Friday Confessional.  I like the idea and will steal it for the moment.  For the moment because I'll never be able to commit to a regularly scheduled post...let alone maintain it.  If you'd like to read some other people's really funny versions of Friday Confessionals...here are Texas Britches and Glamazon.  Alas, mine will not contain their wit or list-mastery!  With that warning shot fired, onward we march!

I'm a little out of shape.  Yes, I know round is a shape, but seriously!  The depressing weight gain the last half of my twenties bestowed upon me is one thing, but I'm also much weaker than I should be.  I have been successfully putting off exercising for about five years.  It's evident but I'll spare you the proof.  Before my wife and I got married we took dance lessons for about three months.  I loved it, it was fun but got me moving so it really wasn't like exercising.  We went back a year later and started up again...this time with many more types of dance and subsequently, lots more exercise on a regular basis.  I lost weight and my shoulders and arms were toning up from holding my frame constantly.  She got pregnant and one evening of swing and two step spins and twirls ended that stint.  We haven't gone back and now are cooking up baby number two, so slim chance of speedy return.

I've made some really stupid purchases over the years with weight loss in mind.  I've put over 200 miles but under 5 months of use into a three or four hundred dollar bicycle...over 10 years ago.  I forgot to cancel a pill subscription and by the time I stopped it and sent back the order (without using it nor getting a refund - not going there, I'm still in a good mood right now) I'd spent around $300.  But the one from last month is still with me.  Sitting behind me on the futon in the office is an opened, but not used TOWER 200 from Body by Jake.

Here's the gist, it is a cabled weight machine without the machine.  It hooks on to any door and instantly you have a weight machine in your home.  It comes with an eleven minute work out routine from MMA Fighter, Randy "The Natural" Couture.  Sounds too good to be true you say?  Eleven minutes?  Who couldn't find eleven minutes for their health and ego?  [Waving hand and pointing down]
I'm on day 17 of my 30 day trial, assuming it begins with the receiving of the box and not the initial order.  That contraption sitting under it's own box, a pillow and throw blanket is still in it's original form out of the box.  I have not even popped the DVD in to see what it's all about.  I have definitely not tried to affix it to a door.  And there wasn't ever a semblance of trying it out going on! 

I'm feeling a twinge of guilt and a glimmer of curiosity as I type this.  I will probably break this thing out now that my wife and daughter are asleep and at least watch the DVD.  I'll post an official review once I've willed my lazy butt to use it!  Wish me luck.  Turns out it was good to get this off my chest...lets hope the follow through is half what I think it could be.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's Out There Now!

We have a wedding to attend in September in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  This will be our first planned travel after our son is born.  I'm not driving a two-month-old and a 22-month-old halfway across the country.  Our daughter can barely handle the 8 hour trip to Oklahoma to visit family.  I think crossing 5 states and a time zone might crush her little spirit...let alone leave me on anti-psychotics the rest of my life.

We've flown several times with our daughter and she does remarkably well.  The last trip was a fluke...I hope...where she literally wore a jar of pureed peaches from my wife, a cup of cola from me and she rocket launched a protein drink all over the three of us.  That was only the first hour of travel!  Like I said though, that was the exception and NOT THE RULE! 

She's a lap child...funny pretty sure that's how you size a dog...lap dog or ain't-gonna-happen dog.  This means we are those people who wrangle their baby during the flight.  I can tell you right now that the level of stress this adds to the flight for the parents FAR OUTWEIGHS  the annoyance of any other passenger.   Besides, my baby is so cute that people don't notice the crazy crap she does...yes these are the delusions of a proud parent...but really, she's a great baby in public.

Last night we booked our flight on Jet Blue.  Love this company...first bag free, more comfortable seats, and happier passengers and crew.  The best reason of all?  Drum roll, please!  They are the only direct flight from Austin to Ft. Lauderdale and the price is nearly the same as others with a lay over.

Other companies have you provide the birth certificate for your lap children when you check your bags and they give you boarding passes for them attached to your own.  Jet Blue asked for their information up front.  They wanted Names and Birth Dates.  No biggie, right?  I filled out our daughter's name and birth date.

Then I had to input our second lap child's info.  OUR SON IS NOT HERE YET!  Hmmm.  First off, the name we've chosen for our son was decided upon two or three months ago.  Then like a wrecking ball, my wife demolished my world and wants a different name!  It's my card and my Jet Blue account...in goes my son's name (Maniacal Laughter)!  There it's out in the world, try changing it now lady!  There also isn't a birthday yet because he hasn't been born!  I selected his due date as the birthday.  Amazingly that worked.  Now I ask myself, did it work because they don't really care since it's a lap child?  Did it work because I'm purchasing a flight 5 months in advance?  Does technology understand time and space in a deeper way than the humans who created and use it?  Probably not, its just a number field without restrictions like REALITY to trip it up.