Saturday, October 30, 2010

Boo

I love Halloween.  It is an entirely pointless holiday where people of all ages celebrate by getting dressed up in costume and having fun.

With the exception of one year when we were visiting my grandparents in North Carolina, my wife and I have dressed up every year we've been together.  This will be our eighth Halloween together!  Many times we make our own costumes out of things we have or rework older costumes.  This year we have four of us to dress.  So instead of being uniform in our choices, we've decided to go as a father-daughter team and a mother-son team.  We could have picked a family set...using the mother son costume, but I just wasn't feeling it this year.

So My daughter is going to be Super Girl and I am going as Lex Luther!  I'll be reworking an old prisoner costume into Lex's.  We found an great Super Girl costume that caused an utter fit when she had to take it off.  Should be fantastic though.

My wife is going as the Wicked Witch and our son will be a flying monkey!  Still have to come up with some baby wings, but the little monkey costume we found is adorable. 

Here's a brief stroll down memory lane with some of our costumes.  Our first couple years are missing...I think they must be on an old laptop that's long since crashed.  We've been Mr. Cellophane and Roxy Hart from Chicago.  We were a pair of jesters the following year...I was a bit more ghoulish and she was hot as Harley Quinn.
See, even when we aren't in costume, we'll still celebrate a little!

Little fun with the fantasy!  We'd just gotten engaged the week before.
Ball and Chain included!

That jacket for my Mad Hatter costume was freaking $3 at the Good Will!
I think we paid more for the baby doll shoes to make the Alice costume!
Timing is everything!
We had our daughter four days later!
Sweet little chickadee!
This was inspired by Swine Flu.
I had to tone mine back because we were
caught up with a 1st birthday party too.

Hope you all get out there and have some fun tomorrow if you haven't already hit the town in costume!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Breast Cancer Zip Codes

The local news tonight ran a story about 8 zip codes in the area having extremely high percentages of Breast Cancer diagnosis.  One has the highest percentage in the state.

I'm impressed they have this much data to compare.  It would seem they couldn't have access to everyone's medical info, but then again, I guess you can find anything online.

They spoke about these zip codes as rural areas where women don't have health insurance.

I took a look, these are the WEALTHIEST areas around our beautiful city.

78633, 78701, 78645, 78676, 78619, 78731, 78669 and 78734  Stick with me after this little break down.  I promise I have a valid point.

One is Georgetown, a city two suburbs above Austin with a huge section of it called Sun City vying to separate from the rest of it because they are super wealthy and all retired and don't want to pay for schools any more.

Two are in our Westlake Hills area which is home to Austin's finest and richest doctors, lawyers, computer geniuses, etc.  If you are a girl who graduated from Westlake High, you are the type of person Mike Posner was talking about in his song Cooler Than Me.  Michael Dell lives in this area.  He's a Billionaire, right?

Two are in our Downtown and "Old Austin" area.  The Governor's Mansion is one of the smallest houses in the area.

Two of them are in the south west hill country.  Sure, I think this is that "rural area" they were referring to as most folks own massive acreage, so there are fewer neighbors around.


The last is the zip code in the center of the river we call Town Lake or Lady Bird Lake.  These homes are up on the cliffs that over look the city and the lakes.  They all have their own boat docks that lead down to the river.  These my friends are truly some of the richest folks in Austin.  Pretty sure this is where Sandra Bullock's local home can be found.


OK, so what's the point?  Why are you doggin' on Breast Cancer Research and Statistics?  It is in the spotlight in the best possible way a horrible disease can be.  The woman on the video, from the local chapter of Susan G. Komen, made a comment that funding will be based on these statistics.  That it gives her specific audiences who need her education and assistance.


Cool, reach out to these communities.  But I don't think they are appropriately interpreting the data.  I believe there are more women of an older age.  Women with more money to go to the oncologist.  Women who are educated on the need for early detection.  Women who take their health to professionals, not in their own hands or fate.  In true dick fashion, I'll point out something else that's probably uncalled for, but I think it's a valid point too.  These women are statistically more prevalent for the disease given their age.  Also wealthier women are less likely to breast feed which helps reduce the risk of Breast Cancer.  (The hippies don't live in these areas either!)


The areas we should be worried about are those who are lower income.  Women who aren't properly educated or cognizant about it.  Areas where women can't afford to go to the doctor.  I would like to see them push the funding to younger women for early detection and understanding of risk factors to avoid.  I would like to see more free screening commercials.  I'm sure if I had more time I could come up with more ideas but I do not have all the answers. I am worried that if they go off skewed data, they will leave bigger holes than those they are attempting to fill.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So Touchy Feely

I got off early today.  I came home to find an empty house.  The wife and kids and in-laws are out Halloween shopping.  Savor the brief moments to yourself right? I cracked open a bottle of wine and have been watching Oprah.  I know right?  I'm feeling like a housewife already!

Jane Fonda is on.  Dude, did you realize she's 75 years old?  Holy moly!  Aside from what I can only describe as a case of pink eye, that woman still looks great!

She's talking about doing a life review.  Interviewing family and reflecting back on her own life.  Basically, she is going through and figuring out all the things that happened when she was caught up in her own self interest.  She basically was checked out during her own life.  No parenting whatsoever.  Her life and all the crazy crap and people that woman has done isn't my point though.

She was talking about abuse and how it affects your very psyche (my paraphrasing) and how her mother's own abuse and suicide changed her.  I suddenly realized I was getting very irritated.  I'm not about to diminish the horrific life shattering event(s) abuse as a child can be.  I am entirely uncomfortable listening to people who have discover (her words) "it wasn't their fault, nothing is their fault."  I don't mean the abuse.  That is obviously not the child's fault.  Suicide is rarely someone else's fault. 

What I do mean is, writing off your own past failings and deplorable behavior because you or someone else were abused or a parent took their life is crap.  I don't understand how she can sit there as a figure people look up to (don't go there...) and say that if you were abused as a child and were a horrible parent, you are absolved of wrong doing. 

One of my best friends constantly speaks in terms of how things affect psyches.  For example: Two children, both of low social economic, one black, one white; the white child will have a better chance of success in life because there are people around them that tell them they can do better.  The black child will have a greater chance of failing because he won't have the same praise and encouragement.  I'm not going into how much I disagree with so much of that paraphrased concept!

Both of them though speak about how most of the time, things people do and how they interact with the rest of society is entirely their own responsibility.  Jane and my friend aren't nearly as shallow as I'm portraying them.  My ultimate point is that I think I'm becoming a true crumudgeon!  I don't give a crap about the touchy feely things in life any more.  I definitely consider the affect on others when I speak and act, but I have no patience to listen to this kind of retarded droll. 

Maybe I just need more wine.  Maybe this is my own inner self evaluation.  I'm just a colder hearted person.  That must be my attraction to my wife.  She's even less sappy than myself. 

Please don't pick apart my disdain for Jane's abuse statements, it really has nothing to do with it, I'm just realizing I don't want to hear it from others.  I'm a bad person, I know.  I'm just glad I can finally accept it.  Oh, now am I being touchy feely?  Damn.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You Son of a Biscuit Eater

I have a foul mouth.  
  • I taper it around most of my employees and many superiors.  
  • My parents and in-laws to a degree get a toned down version.  
  • Strangers and the elderly (grandparents included) get the angelic vocabulary.
  • Coworkers tend to get the full crude conversational Dorn.  
  • My wife certainly gets the extreme version.  
I'm not sure how there is a subconscious (semiconscious) censor or filter in my head.  If that exists, than I should be able to have it turned on permanently right? 



I try to keep it out of my blog, but there are at least a dozen I can think of with at least one of  "the four horsemen of the sailor mouth."  Fuck is probably my favorite word of all.  The rest are frequently used, but none are my go to like fuck.  I'm not even sure how it started.  I remember making a conscious effort when I was in high school to clean up my language.  I'm not sure how I fused church and Carlin's "seven words you can't say on television" but I made it work.

So now that my oldest child is becoming a walking tape recorder, it is weighing heavily on my mind. 

At this point, I don't care where it comes from, I just want to know how to turn it off like a light switch.  My vocab (while I may joke about its limited depth) isn't terribly shallow.  I should be able to express myself more appropriately.  I'm going to be 31 next week for goodness sake!  It's time to act/speak like an adult!  Although, that line of though is funny considering these are the words you aren't allowed to say when you are a child.  "When you're an adult, you can cuss and swear to your hearts content, but under my roof, I'll be damned if I'm going to tolerate that shit!"

So, assuming my favorite advice givers are very far above the depravity that is being a foul mouthed mother effer, do you have any friends who have conquered a nasty little habit like this?  Could you please share any helpful advice they might be willing to offer?  Please let me know if swear jars or rubber band around the wrist actually work.

I would love it if "Lint Licker" was in my repertoire of insults, alas I'm stuck with the tried and true B***** or the ever controversial C***.


Dirty Mouth Lint Licker
Uploaded by twopugs. - See more comedy videos.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bring the Boobies Back

No this is not a post about the Susan G. Komen foundation.  Although what it is about has proven to reduce the risk of Breast Cancer.

My wife took our daughter to get her hair cut today.  I was staying behind with our 3 1/2 month old son.

I was to feed him his first bottle of pumped breast milk while she was gone.  He'd woken up right before they were leaving and was surely going to be hungry.  I changed his butt to make sure he had every reason to be happy going into this.

This is point of the story where most men will decided to never have children if they haven't already.

First introduction he thought it was a pacifier.  So he choked when milk squirted out.  This upset him, so he screamed for about 10 minutes.  I was in full on settle-baby-down mode.  Shushing, rocking, holding his feet and letting him hold my hands and all.

Once he settled, I gave it another shot and he started gagging and it sounded like he was aspirating some of the milk.  He is screaming at the top of his lungs and face is turning a shade similar to an eggplant.  So I grabbed the Boppy (a C shaped pillow women put around their waist that the baby lays on while they breast feed so mom isn't just holding them the whole time in their arms.) and laid him on it, simulating his normal feeding position. 

That just pissed him off more.  Time for another settle down break.  He yelled for a very long time, I was shushing at the top of my lungs (? doesn't seem like the right word, since it's really just your throat, oh well, it doesn't matter.).  In case you think that sounds absurd, shushing at the same volume they are yelling at is the only way they can hear it, which is actually soothing to babies...kinda mimicking the sounds en utero.

Another 10 minutes or so passes and he's calm enough that I tried the bottle again.  Nope, not even gonna have it!  He wailed.  I'd squirt milk in his mouth, he'd gag.  I'd shush and rock while. All I got in return was a beat red child with a "SCREW OFF OLD MAN" look in his eyes!

FINE I GIVE UP!  Forty minutes of this crap is enough!  I bounced him, held his feet and hands how he likes and again shushed until he settled again.  He passed out from what I assume is exhaustion.  He woke himself up a couple times with super deep sighs/whimpers (the kind you normally hear between giant sobs of a child).

I'd tortured my kid. I'm exhausted. 

My wife and daughter came home right after this and we got the little girl down for a nap and I passed off baby duty.

Things were very different for our daughter. 

She was born a month early, so she was 
given formula at the hospital.  
It took my wife weeks of pumping to actually 
get her to finally latch properly.  
So she had bottles from the start.  
After a month it was strictly breast 
feeding or pumped bottles.  

With our son, he had no problems 
latching and has never had to 
deal with the artificial nipple.  
Turns out he doesn't want it.

My wife gave it a shot when she sat down.  He resisted for a few minutes but eventually downed the whole bottle (3 ounces).  Guess he felt more comfortable with her than me.

I really think it is more of a "resistance to change" thing than a nipple confusion or whatever jack asses like to say.  Babies are just like little children and adults in that respect...or hell, even my cat freaks out with change.  This kid doesn't want to lose his booby time.  He is perfectly content to hang out at the milk bar as long as mom will allow.  Why should anything change?
Well kid, that's life.  And after Mom has her wisdom teeth removed next week, you're gonna either starve or let me feed you.  You hear?

Friday, October 22, 2010

The World Needed This?

Can I just say that I am at least happy that disgusting beard is gone...somewhat.  How did every casting director, director and producer think it was the look they were going for in every stinking movie?  And no, I have absolutely nothing against facial hair.  In fact I grow out a beard or goatee for a few months and then go clean shaven for a few months.  I get bored and can't do much with my hair, so my face becomes my canvas in a way.  I just got super tired of his.

Now that that's out of the way.  What this man will do for comedy is great.  Zach, just don't take it too far and get a tattoo of yourself like Steve O did.  Or a facial tattoo like your buddy Mike Tyson, oh wait, his wasn't for a laugh, it was to scare the crap out of all of us...as if being a boxer twice our size, raping women, serving time and biting of another giant man's ear didn't do it for us.

Here is Zach Galifianakis's Swimsuit calendar from Vanity Fair.

Here he is in a "normal" shoot for Vanity too.

And back to the bleeding from the eyes.

This one was just to make sure both eyes were hemoraging.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Five Items or Fewer - Stephen Fry on Language

I love word play.  I enjoy how people can twist words in mischievous ways to have an entirely different subtext than what's actually being said.  I love the fact that the English language has many words with slightly different connotations all to describe the exact same thing.  If you misuse one, few people may notice, but if you are around a word nerd, they may just call you out.

I don't want to sound like a dolt but I also don't have nearly the vocabulary to be impressive.  My grammar sucks.  My wife points this out constantly

But this video tickled me.  First, I love listening to Stephen Fry.  I remember watching an animated Winnie the Pooh which he narrated.  "The Grey Donkey" never sounded so charming. Secondly, he is poking fun of the people who obsess with language and don't accept it for its flexibility.

Give it a listen.  The graphics are equally entertaining in their simplicity.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

Originally, I wrote about how these two temps I have running one of my stores are walking all over me.  One, a stoner retard, no showed this weekend, making this day number 8 I've worked straight. (I'm on call every weekend, but this weekend I actually had to run a store too).  The other is an apathetic retard.

Then I realized all of the problems I've had with them point back to me being a crappy manager.  I've overlooked things I shouldn't.  I've laughed at their stupidity instead of just firing them.  Bad stuff.

I don't feel like having a pity party.  So instead I'll give myself some real goals and give tomorrow a whole new slant.

Goal number one, I will wake up and shower BEFORE my morning conference call, not after.  Every day, not just when the boss is in town.

Goal number two, I will divide up that paper work in my office by stores/locations that created it.

Goal number three, I will take a stack and bring it to that store.  I need more face time with these guys anyway.  This will allow me to research things on site with the folks who probably caused the work anyway.  I will work my way through those stacks by month's end.

Goal number four, I will hold people accountable like I'm held accountable.  If this means write ups, so be it.  If this means confronting some of my long standing problems/nemesis even better. 

I will not be a door mat any more.  Things will change or I'll find someone who will do it my/our way!

I will do this before "pushed to my limit" becomes "pushed out the door!"

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Macula Comes Alive - Celebration

This is a repost from Kottke.org

After 600 years, a clock comes alive

If you liked the video mapping on the IAC building, this one might be even better. For the 600th anniversary of the construction of the tower clock in Prague, The Macula projected a really great video on the tower...watch at least through the brick stacking animation.


I thought the video was so much fun.  A great way to celebrate a monument's 600th anniversary. My wife has actually seen it...she lived in Germany for a couple years and got to go all over Europe too...she loved Prague when she visited.

Hope you enjoy it.  Also puts you in the Halloween mood.


The 600 Years from the macula on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Facebook Suggestions - I found God...Literally

I rarely pay attention to Facebook suggestions.  They are those little things in the upper right corner of your screen when you aren't on your smart phone.  They recommend you friend people if one or two of your friends are also friends with them.  They suggested I "might know David Byrne," I felt pretty cool for half a second. 

Pages work the same way.  Someone likes a Person, TV Show, Movie, Brand, Band or what ever, it'll suggest it.  I'll admit, I've liked a few things that were just funny at first and later thought, hmmm, this is a crap page that keeps filling up my page.  Like "I Thought I was Owning on Mario Kart until I Realised I wasn't the Top Screen."  It's run by a little shit of a British kid (hence the misspelled Realised), I should just unlike it and be done with it.

Other companies make you like them to enter a sweepstakes...to this day I've never won a sweepstakes give away, yet HGTV continues to email me and Dole Bananas continues to post to my Facebook news feed.

So today I noticed a couple suggestions that were a little odd.  I decided to click on view all.  Originally, I was going to comment on them and post them all, but then I realized there were pages and pages of them, so here are a couple screen shots of the first few pages.  I might revisit this when I have more time....some day.



My favorites are when people like John McCain and Lady Gaga fall together.  It also makes me want to cross reference friends between the pages.  You know like "Being Conservative" and "Slutty Twinks."  I'm sure the folks at Google could make some interesting data available to the likes of Psychology Today that would keep them busy for years with research and speculation. 

What's the last page you liked on Facebook?  "Having a relationship where you can act like total retards together" and "I don't feel like folding the laundry so I just restart the dryer" never post, but obviously fit my mood at the time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Babysitters

We just finished a film called The Babysitters.



It starred John Leguizamo, Cynthia Nixon and a host of other familiar faces but no name actors.

WARNING, ENTIRE PLOT SPOILERS:

The opening sequence lays out where this film is going in case the movie poster above or the trailer below left you confused.  Literally an orgy of middle aged men and young teenage girls.  It then clips to an eariler time frame with the leading lady doing the voice over.

Voice Over:
I'm a junior at Alfred E. Groves high school. 
This is my babysitting service. 
The answer is no: mom doesn't drink, dad didn't hit me, 
Uncle Steve never showed me his privates. 
I don't even have an Uncle Steve. 
The money is nice, 
and paid fellatio isn't that much more humiliating than flipping burgers. 
But that's not why I do it.


Katherine Waterson plays a high schooler who baby sits for Nixon and Leguizamo.  She's stricken with OCD that's manifested in neatfreakism and an overwhelming need to have things and people in their place.  She's the perfect student and is facing the S.A.T.'s in the near future.  Sex Ed classes and their STD imagery are peppered throughout the movie in nearly perfect timing to draw your mind back to the gritty reality that is sex.

It is obvious from the start she has a crush on the father, played by Leguizamo.  After her first babysitting gig of the film he takes her out to get something to eat before going home.  Later that evening he kisses her.  Embarrassed, he apologizes when he brings her home.  He gives her $200.


The first revelation was centered on the kiss, not the money.  This girl just had her teenage crush fantasy come true.

The next time she babysits for Nixon and Leguizamo, she and the father go all the way.  This earns her another $200 and less embarrassment but a new revelation comes upon her.  This is a lot of freaking money.  College isn't cheap.  Let's do this!

Things quickly went from her loss of virginity to needing another babysitter for Leguizamo's buddy.  After a successful evening for both, she tells her friend she should get some of the money, like 20%.  And bam! She's a madam.  Or a pimp, but I don't think pimps sleep with any one and it's entirely possible that madams do, so yeah, madam.

The OCD nature kicks in and she becomes an expert at organizing the babysitting schedule.  But eventually they run into a situation where they need another girl to cover. 

All the while a boy in class has been crushing on her.  Whether it was because she was preoccupied with the idea of an older man or just preoccupied with an older man, this boy and her never quite work out.

That boy's sister eventually gets thrown in to the situation without warning.  Babysitting that is.  She decides to go for it as a sweaty nervous guy is thrusting himself upon her.  The next day the madam makes sure she's ok and demands her cut.  She's then added to the roster.

The whole movie Nixon's character keeps eluding to former addiction problems.  This combined with her insecurity about the possibility her husband cheating on her leads to lots of home stress and fighting.  Eventually that stress leads to a fight between Leguizamo and Waterson.and the price goes up.

This is where things get sticky and the plot starts to get dry for me, but funny and soap opera-y.  The third girl gives a sitting job one evening to her step sister.  This does not bode well for any one involved.  The wicked step sister is a skanky whore who doesn't want to pay the pimp.

New whore starts her own service and the original babysitters loose all of their business.  As the new whores flaunt their riches, Waterson gets pissed and tries to get proof of the competition.  This necessitates a cover up in the form of massive school vandalism.

Now all the whores are threatened by Madam Waterson sets the rules for all to play by.  Business is back all is good.

They decide to step it up a notch and hold a "business retreat" at a cabin and have essentially a huge orgy.  This goes awry when pills are popped and the third whore (sister of loser boy from earlier) looses her shit. 

Everything spirals out of control.  Whore number two (the best friend) has loser boy brother beaten up to try to keep sister quiet as step sister rules the roost.  A fight between Leguizamo and his wife leads to his kids being home alone and him abandoning Waterson when they nearly get busted by a cop.  As she reaches out for help to whore number three she finds out step sister is out on her own again. 

This is where reality comes crashing down.  Best friend whore and her regular John are gettin' freaky when Waterson calls for help showing step sister who is boss.  The John is pissed but assists in beating the crap out of the John step sister is with.  That John turns out to be....wait for it......Waterson's dad!  I know, GASP!

The end is extremely melancholy.  Everyone's lives fall back into place. 

Waterson remarks  
Guess it was just one of those moments, a unique detail in an otherwise ordinary life. 


Critics and audiences hated it.  In truth, I really did like this movie.  It was provocative without being Skinamax material.  It made me question the environment my kids will grow up in.  No I'm not worried about my daughter becoming a whore.  Basically, grades aren't everything.  Her father was very detached from the goings on in his child's life. Just because your child seems to be doing good in school or have a spotless room; it doesn't mean they are the perfect child.  They are getting smarter.  Even though most would think dumber...they just are quicker than we used to be and are being taught by folks who are not as quick.  That combo makes for bored children who find apathy easier than drive. 

I'm not sure how deep this movie was really trying to go.  Frankly it didn't matter.  The story was compeling.  It made me take pause and evaluate how importance family interaction and communication really is.  I don't know what the right solution is.  Pushing studies and the importance of education is one of the biggest challenges we'll have in a world conquered by the Internet, video games, cell phones and TV.  I want to encourage my kids to become active and stimulated by making and doing things that better communities or even the world.  The idea that I'm going to have to combat sex (not on the Brothel level) as well is daunting.  How are we supposed to make these kids into successful adults?

I used to joke (WELL before I had kids) that successful fathers are those who keep their daughters off the poles and keep the needles out of their arms.  I think that sums up this movie.  There is more to success as a parent than chaste children, but it didn't deliver much more of a message than that.  Pick your battles, because the war is in the near future I guess.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Here, Let Me Help You with that Face Plant

Having two children under two means having a house of madness many days.  We try to get the kids out daily, but considering the chore it can be, sometimes we opt for maintaining cabin fever.

There is a fantastic park at the elementary school down the road that we'll walk to in the evenings.  We'll even go to Burger King or Chic-Fil-A just so the oldest rugrat can play on the indoor toy playscape.  During the summer we have a pool on the other side of the neighborhood we can take them too.  My wife will occasionally meet up with a mommy group in some preordained setting.  She'll also try to get to the library for toddler reading days.  These last two are great, but it requires my wife to chase one down while occupying the other.

So nights like last night are really a treat for everyone.  We went to one of our favorite quick meal restaurants, Mama Fu's Asian House in Southpark Meadows at the south edge of Austin.  The best part of the location is a GIANT playground area outside in the middle of a block of restaurants.


Great marketing really, if you want families to come to your facility, entice the kids.  Hands down, that philosophy works.  Happy kids make for happy parents.  Probably works the other way around too...but still.

We've come to this park on many occasions just as a break in the mundane.  My daughter loves having all the other kids around.  Her complete lack of fear or acknowledgment of dangerous situations keeps me on my toes the entire time.  There are a lot of things for kids to fall off of at this facility.  Note the three foot drop off the stairs in the above photo!  She also insists on climbing up herself but will realize the rungs of what ever contraption she's attempting are just a little too tall.  So what's a smart little kid to do when the fun is so very high and she is so very low?  Yep, find the nearest stranger...preferably male...and raise your arms for assistance.  (Yes that happened last night...the fellow dad just shot a smile over to me as I reached down to help the little fearless one).


A month or so ago, the above red curvy slide was an issue.  My daughter doesn't navigate slides with grace.  I'm not sure if she chickens out or if she thinks, "if I slide down there, they'll have me and the fun will stop."  Either way, getting her to slide down to me is nearly impossible.  Take away visibility and it's nearly over.  She got stuck in red curvy one and wouldn't go up or down to get out.  She wasn't panicking or anything, just causing a road block.  A group of kids would start to go down and you would hear "There's a baby in here!"  She'd begin to follow them all the while trying to find my voice.  Some would crawl up the slide and she'd follow them right back up.  Took a full 15 minutes to get her out of that stupid thing. 

Last night though, the slide was officially conquered...at least the slide down to daddy part.  Each of the slides in these two photos plus a couple that are out of the camera's eye she would slide down head first.  She looked like an 80's kooky gameshow contestant.  Arms outstretched flying down the chute.  Hooray for the little accomplishments.

There was a cute set of 18 month-ish twin girls playing on the equipment above here.  My daughter, who is almost two was following along right behind them much of the way.  The bouncy/floppy bridge between two of these units was just a head of this little pack of girls.  One twin had her foot on the bridge, mine was between her and her sister in line to cross the bridge.  Their mother is coming up under from the other side as this begins.  Mine gives her diaper a little shove to encourage what is now a frightened child crossing molten lava!  A little resistance, but nothing to cry about.  The mother is now at the first daughter's side next to the bridge.  I'm still staying back a bit.  Mine then places one hand on the child's back and one on the diaper and gives a final SHOVE of encouragement.  The child begins wailing.  I climb through and grab mine, telling her no pushing.  The mother is actually saying, it's OK, directed at us and not to her own kid.  The other twin is laughing.  This makes me smile a bit.  She takes the opportunity to go from third in line to flying across that bridge...showing her little sister what a weenie she is.  My daughter and I go find another area to play on.

I guess impatience is something I'm supposed to quell.  I guess bullying isn't always black and white either.  My kid has my wife's attitude.  "Hey stupid, you're holding up the line, step or I'll shove your ass across this bridge."  Our son is going to be black and blue once he starts playing with her.

Austin or not, any ideas for things to do with kids that won't make a ding in my pocket book?  How do you deal with a burgeoning bully?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Look It's Play Dough, No, Wait, That's Chicken Nugget Meat Paste

Huff Post had a horrifying shot last week of what was supposedly Chicken Nuggets before they become Chicken nuggets.  Ga 'head, take a gander.

I have to tell you, this made me a little sick to my stomach.  So a day or so later, the Huffington Post had to amend their article because they called it McNugget meat.  Since Mickey D's uses white meat in their chicken McNuggets and this was not the process used, they got a little snippy.  Wonder why...gross.

Huff Post then had to retract the whole premise of the article a day or so after that.  Apparently no one knows where the above photo came from. It is accepted that this is mechanically separated animal of some kind.  But for what use is unknown.  

So the term Mechanically Separated Chicken (or pork, or beef for that matter) isn't that alarming if you don't think about it.  A machine removed the different pieces from the bone.  Why should that bother you?  If you've ever worked with raw chicken on a bone, you'll know.  Or better yet, how bout a tasty Buffalo Wing?  You know all that ligamenty stuff (yes, I just brought this discussion down to a valley girl level with the word ligamenty...even though a valley girl would probably never know what a ligament or cartilage, or any other non meat or bone substance found in an animal, isWait, a second, they would too...cartilage is shaved from the noses of valley girls every day, let's just start labeling chicken nuggets Rhinoplasty Left Overs.) that you have to eat around or slice and dice to get an actual breast or thigh free from it's "natural" (naturally dead and featherless) form?

That crap all gets ground together into a lovely malleable paste.  Then on to the spreader, shape cutter (what, you thought those breast and leg shaped McNuggets were their natural form?  Or how bout Burger King's Crown Shaped Nuggets?), breader and fryer!  Mmm mmm mmm Delish!

Confused as to what I'm really harping on about or haven't ever really thought twice about what you're putting in your body?  My point is the meat producers are trying to squeeze a couple extra pennies of profit out of a bird by allowing us to consume parts of an animal we would normally NEVER consume. 

I get grossed out when I have a big fat vein chunk in my store bought burger.  Terrified when I bite into something hard in a McDonald's burger patty.  Utterly repulsed when I hit a gristle section of chicken strips.

There is a product called Potted Meat.  This is essentially the poorest poor man's Pate.  If you haven't had it, it looks similar to what's pictured below.  I loved the stuff when my wife introduced me to it.  Then I read that it was mechanically separated meat.  I began noticing how many strange patches were throughout the little can.  Like tiny fat or gelatinous sections of the meat spread (yeah, should be your first indicator to steer clear!).  That's when I started taking a much closer look at what I was purchasing. 

So if you read the comments below the article on Huff Post you'll see varied responses to the fact that they had to amend the article twice because they failed to fact check and didn't just pull the whole thing down.  I don't really care that the first pic is incorrect.  Sensationalizing things seems to be the only way America pays attention.  I wish it didn't come down to that. I wish people would just care about what they are consuming and allowing to be put on the shelves as food. 

I am no expert on food quality or artificial additives and whatnot.  Bacterial issues aside, I do think there were fewer food related issues when people just used raw ingredients a couple hundred years ago spanning all the way back to the dawn of man.  Seems like a very long history to just ignore when food manipulation has comparatively a short lifespan. 

As the primary cook and grocery shopper for my family, I have to admit, I don't have 100% track record of ideal food quality purchases.  That said, I believe I've been more conscientious of what my family eats than many.  We made our own baby food for our oldest (second is still on a strictly "Hanging out at the Milk Bar" diet) which helped transition her to real food much quicker than normal.  (Seriously, if you've ever seen baby food peas in a jar versus at home steamed and pureed  peas, you'd never give another dime to Gerber).  She loves all varieties of food.  We do still struggle with her having favorites and refusing to eat anything but those if they are present, but that's something that falls back on us and how mindful we are at each meal.

I sincerely hope that by the time my kids are going to school and eating in cafeterias that the dozens of food blogs specializing in the cause and even sappy ole Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution have serious positive affects.  It's not too late for us to change as adults, just a lot of damage has already been done.  It is our duty to not perpetuate bad food and eating habits in our children. 

Any horrifying food experiences?  Food products that turn your stomach?  What do you eat that you know you shouldn't?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Someone's a Dirty Thief

One of my wife's bank card numbers fell into the hands of a dirty rotten thief. She pulled out some cash and discovered a much smaller balance than she expected.  When she got home she looked at her bank account and on October 1st six charges totaling $1200 hit her account.

I don't care who you are or what your financial situation...$1200 is a lot to steal from someone!

Both of us have had our other banks deal with fraudulent activity.

My credit union card has been killed and replaced three times because of it in the past 6 years.
  • One preventative. Their website was used in one of those email schemes where they ask you to follow the link to "your bank's website" and enter your account number in what is actually a dummy site created by crafty hackers.  I don't know if I was the reason, but I definitely reported that one when it crossed my inbox.  They went through and zapped every one's cards who were potentially affected.  Their online security measure got some serious upgrades within a month. 

  • Another time a giant online purchase tried to go through and they called to verify and I was not on the receiving end of that transaction.  

  • About a month ago my card was killed because someone in Florida and someone in Nevada tried to process a crap load of tiny charges on my card at the same time.  They were motels keying in larger and larger amounts each time building up to $50 before the fraud team noticed.  The bank zapped my card and refunded the charges immediately. I know who stole my card number too.  Little creep at the convenience store down the road from one of my stores.  Strangest transaction ever.  I even called my bank from the parking lot to have them check my account.  The fraud happened two days later.

My wife's other bank was hit by PayPal fraud.  Someone used her account on an online poker site for $500 a couple days before Christmas last year.  She filled out an online form and was contacted the same day.  Once they told her the source she yelled at me for making her set up a PayPal account...which she never used because it was too complicated...I ended up using my own for what ever that initial purchase was years ago.  Her bank immediately refunded the amount back and went after PayPal.  Apparently it is frequent with Online Gaming sites.

When my wife was laid off, she received unemployment.  Texas created her an account through Chase Bank to receive her funds.  She's never closed the account, though after tonight, she just might.  She called and they instructed her to write a letter to their card services department to file a report for unauthorized charges.  The said they shut off her account and would issue her a new card.  They will issue a good faith refund of the disputed charges two weeks following the letter's receipt pending further investigation.

Mail a letter?  Wait two weeks?  What the hell is this, the 80's?  Come on Chase!  Get with the modern world.

The customer service lady said all of the charges were keyed in manually.  Four of the charges were to a place called Sheetz.  Two of them were to a place called Martin General.  Both in Pittsburgh.

What the hell?  I went to Sheetz in Pittsburgh in February!  We bought ice one night.  We bought (a surprisingly good) breakfast one morning.  We also filled the tank up.  
Some little rat fink at Sheetz went in and stole a bunch of money from us!  My company has gone through some serious information protocol changes over the last few years.  Shredding isn't enough.  Now we have no access to customer's information on a normal basis and credit cards are gone the second the card is swiped.  No record ANYWHERE attainable.  What the hell is this (relatively modern and clean) convenience store doing with hard copies of credit card numbers in a store?  Who still batches card numbers anymore?

I blasted Sheetz a complaint and hit their Yelp and CitySearch pages too.  I know we weren't the only victims, they're guaranteed to be in a world of hurt soon once all of these charges start getting reversed.

Ever been a victim of identity theft?  Ever had someone steal from you at all?  Violated isn't the right term.  I'm pissed.  One of my employees tells me all the time how you should never give your debit card to someone or use it online, always use a credit card.  I'm starting to believe his paranoia may be founded in reality.


Follow Up Note 10-08-10
I was contacted back by Sheetz Security Operations Department.  They got some info from me and said I needed to file a local police report.  Local police in Austin, Texas of course are like, "we'll file the report, but because it's out of our jurisdiction, (no joke Pennsylvania is out of your jurisdiction) we won't pursue it further.  But you can talk to our Financial Crimes unit if you wish."  Yeah, thanks.

So I did some research further and found that Martin General is the store front version of Martin Oil.

Their security department was much more interested in catching their criminal.  Their Alexandria, PA location is where the diesel transactions came trough.  The headquarters for Sheetz is only 15 minutes away.  So maybe it's higher up than I expected. 

My theory is that someone comes in and fills up their giant truck tank and pays cash.  The little crook with a well crafted scam takes that cash and finds a card that can hold the amount of the transaction.  Bam you have a lot of money!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Map of Online Communities

I thought you might find this interesting.  XKCD has created an updated map of online communities.  i.e. what's going on here.  You reading my blog right now.  This is US interacting in the virtual online world.  The data they've compiled is not necessarily 100% accurate, but they seem to have tried to be realistic.  They've of course used humor to help the mapping process as good cartographers should if they want people to truly explore.

Here is a link to XKCD website.

If you click the image below to enlarge it gets big...really big...yes, yes, that's what she said.  I know.  This will give you a chance to explore the virtual world around you.

Did you see the size of that farm land.  Damn, must be gold in them their fields.

Oh and in case you were searching, Tell Me What I Need To Know has a beautiful beach house on the western coast of the Island of Miscellaneous Blogs in the Sea of Opinion.  My view of the Sea of Zero (0) comments is quite breathtaking. 

And please do share where your slice of heave can be found!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sexy Again.

I ran across the past couple seasons worth of Dolce & Gabbana ads as well as the latest they'll be running with Madonna as the Matriarch of a mid century Italian family.

Honestly, I haven't found this woman attractive since the late 90's.  I know, in many circles that's blasphemy.  I'm not looking to impress anyone with my loving devotion to the one and only Madge. 

These however have rekindled a childhood crush...shhh, don't tell the wife!
Is it crazy that her as a tarty housewife works for me?

Ah well.  I doubt I'm alone.  Here are the rest that I could dig up...no clue what's from which season.














What's your opinion?  Does the lady still got it?  Does this erase the damage done by a 50 year old in spandex leotards?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Costco vs Sam's Club

When my lovely wife and I were getting married, I was talking to my boss about buying the wine and champagne for the reception.  She said the company had an extra membership to Sam's Club and gave it to me.  It was great.  We got all the alcohol super cheap comparatively. 

Three years later and we were questioning if we should stick with Wal-Mart's super bulk club or take a chance on Costco. 

Here are the problems with Sam's:
  • Meat products don't seem to last for any length of time and seem substandard.
  • Items like rice, flour and sugar can only be purchased in ginormous bags that bakeries use.
  • Produce was a crap chute.  All of it rots ten times faster than ones we buy at the regular grocery store.
  • Biggest of all...I have zero respect for Wal-Mart and feel like I'm betraying my own sensibilities by maintaining my patronage.
Sam's pricing though was great on many things we did purchase with regularity. We decided do some comparison shopping at Costco.  For the most part they were equivalent.  The biggest perk we found is that Costco sends out coupons to use on top of the regular prices.  Great really. 

We made the switch.  On the whole, we are happy with the change.  Just some little things.

Here are the problems with Costco:
  • Some of the items we purchased at Sam's aren't available or aren't the same type.  i.e. Softsoap variety pack, sounds like a minor thing, but we've been using them for years and now it's gone.  I know I should be a good environmentalist and just refill my current pumps with regular soap, but I'd rather whine.
  • Condoms.  Folks, this might be TMI, so beware.  Costco, for the past 4 months, has only carried the new Trojan Ecstasy condoms.  These things are ridiculous.  In theory they are great, but I've noticed an issue that renders them pointless if you get my drift.  I've already had 2 children in less than 2 years, I'm not looking for a third in under 3!  Have a variety of at least TWO brands or types, please.
  • Their produce is about as good as Sam's.  Once it's out of their controlled temperature, it rots in no time. 
  • Milk.  Gross. Their milk expires a week before the due date. 
  • Membership is more expensive than Sam's (basic at Sam's $30/year basic at Costco $50/year).
Both companies had great variety of non food products at great prices.  Costco however seems to win with us now on the toy options.  While Sam's was good, Costco seems outstanding.  I'm not going to go into detail here, it's just been fun picking out Christmas presents at incredibly low prices!

While this may not be the most in depth research and insight into the two companies.  We purchased the Executive membership from Costco.  You pay $100 and earn 2% back on every purchase.  If at the end of the year, you don't make at least $50 they will refund your membership and charge only the Basic fee.  This in conjunction with the coupons makes me trust the company and be willing to stick it out with them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Arrivederci, Baby!

I've only heard about Greg Giraldo over the past couple days.  How did I miss Tony Curtis?

He was a Pimp and a Funny Man. 

Farewell Tony.