Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pavlov's Middle Finger

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a native of New Jersey. What this means is, we drive with one hand on the wheel and the middle finger of the other hand extended out the window. We will give the middle finger for anything and everything. Someone cuts us off, bam. Someone honks at us, bam. Someone doesn’t move quickly enough when the light turns green, honk and then bam.

This is not to say we are discourteous drivers. We do have roadway etiquette, but we also have a punishment system built-in when someone violates said etiquette.

So it was yesterday, on my way home. I entered an intersection just as the light turned yellow. Unfortunately, this was a busy section of highway that had another controlled intersection about a thousand feet ahead, and that light was red, thus we were stopped dead. I was at the tail end of the line of traffic. To make matters worse, those who were turning right (to go the same direction as I was going) from the street to my right couldn’t go anywhere even though they had the green…because of this same traffic backup. When I finally did get the green, and could move, I allowed the beer truck at the front of that line to cut in front of me (it turns out it was a Budweiser truck…..had I known this, I would’ve given him the middle finger and not let him in).

Because I had not only stopped (thus holding up traffic) and further delayed things by allowing a truck to cut in, the driver behind me honked her horn. Much like Pavlov ringing a bell, causing his dogs to look for food, I immediately extended my right arm and flipped off the person behind me. It was only after doing this that I bothered to check my rear-view mirror to see to whom I had given the digital “Fuck You.”

It was a 60-ish year old grandmother-type in a mini-van.

Awesome. I just gave the middle finger to an old woman. Somebody’s grandmother.

Of course, I was the one trying to extend courtesy to another driver, so while I certainly inconvenienced this woman and her race to go to water aerobics (or wherever it is women of her age go), there was certainly no call for her to be rude to me. By giving her the middle finger, I was performing a public service.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kindergarten Wit

Every Wednesday, I work from home. Thus, I take the opportunity to go to Thing 2’s school and have lunch with her. I figure in about 6-7 years, she will pretend to not know me when we’re out in public together, so I should take advantage now of the fact that it’s easy to spend time with her each week.

Lunch doesn’t actually consist of lunch for me. Thing 2’s Kindergarten class eats at 10:30AM each day, which is WAY too early for lunch. So, I instead go up and help out the teaching assistant (who has to cover 3 different classes during that same period, and is happy for the help), by opening up the kids’ milk or juice containers, opening up bananas, making sure the kids are sitting and eating, not fighting, etc. I only know about half the kids’ names, so I break the remaining group into two categories: Those that are wearing Silly Bandz, and those that aren’t. The ones that are wearing them, I simply call them “Silly Band.” Those that aren’t, I simply pretend I don’t know their names.

There’s one girl who, I swear, every week when I see her she’s eating a corn dog. And while corn dogs are gross about 110% of the time, school cafeteria corn dogs are even worse. The hot dog inside is grey, and they cornmeal covering the dog is some weird color of brown. She greets me by waving the corn dog at me. I think if the English had waved these corn dogs towards the Viking invaders, the Vikings would have sailed on to more pleasant-looking shores.

As I have to check in at the office, I am given a visitor’s sticker. It has a gigantic V on the beginning of visitor. I about fell out of my seat last week when one kid (his name is Silly Band) asked me, “how come everyone’s name begins with a V?” Of course, I found out later this brilliant 5 year old was really playing me, and he probably asked that same question 2-3 times per day.

Then there’s the sweet little Indian girl who must have Alzheimer’s. Every week, she reminds me that A, she’s Hindi, B, she’s eating Hindi food, and C, she’s a vegetarian (this same girl has been seen eating chicken nuggets in the cafeteria….I think America is starting to reach its claws around this girl’s family). Her lunch always looks gross, but I smile pleasantly and tell her it looks good. She rarely eats all of it, because it looks gross. I swear she was eating a grass sandwich last week.

And then there was the little girl I was helping out this week. I was applauding the boy next to her for eating all of his lunch, calling him a member of the Clean Plate Club. This girl turns to me and says, “I know what a club is.” I got quiet, and was immediately wondering what she meant by a club. A weapon? A delicious sandwich that consists of turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato, etc? And while I was thinking, she leaned towards me and said, “a place where the pretty ladies dance.”

Needless to say, Thing 2 will not be having any play dates with this girl anytime soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Here's Your Sign.

Seen on Hilton Head (at a chotchkie shop selling novelty shot glasses, fridge magnets, mugs, and t-shirts), photographed with my crappy Blackberry phone.

On one shelf, commemorative Hilton Head baby onesies.

On the shelf just above, Zodiac-themed coffee mugs, but instead of pictures of the Zodiac signs, they have images of 12 couples doing 12 of what are probably my favorite sex positions.

So basically, the sex-themed mugs, and clothing for the byproduct of the sex.

I see no issue with the products, but putting them in the same aisle seems odd.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Future In Chicago Politics

Thing 2 is now in Kindergarten, and with that comes an inevitability......school fund raisers. In the past, the first two weeks of school meant the arrival of Sally Foster catalogs, which then involved Thing 1 calling every aunt, uncle, grandparent, close friend, etc, and begging them to buy wrapping paper, disgusting chocolates, kitschy notepads, etc (one friend of mine once bought 20 notepads from Thing 1 at $5 apiece....6 years later he still has several left).

Now that Thing 2 is in school, however, the school has abandoned Sally Foster as their main fundraiser (I guess everyone around here has more wrapping paper than they know what to do with) and switched to magazine subscriptions. They send home a booklet with 10 address cards. You fill out the name and address of close friends, relatives, etc and this company mails them out, playing on sympathy, telling your friends/relatives/etc that if they subscribe to these magazines, a certain amount of that money will go to Thing 2's school. We did not put down friends who live near us because they have the same fundraiser, and we omitted one of my brothers because he has 2 kids, and that will just incite him to include us on his kids' fundraisers, so we were ultimately left with a 6 of the 10 cards in the booklet filled out.

The next day, Thing 2 came home with the booklet and explained that the teacher wanted her to fill out all 10, and she couldn't turn it in until they were all done. See, Thing 2 doesn't realize there's no punishment for not turning it in, in Kindergarten being told they could not turn something in was akin to a failing grade. So, we were left to fill out the remaining cards with some creativity (it was then we realized there were 11 in our booklet....did they add one as punishment?). So we included a friend of mine, and his wife....who lives at the same address. My wife's uncle lives in the same house as her grandparents, who are already getting one, but what the hell, he needs mail too, right? And so on.

While coming up with names, Thing 2 looked up at us, and very seriously asked, "Can't we also put down the names and addresses of people we know that died?"

This of course brought images to mind of Mayor Richard J. Daley's campaign slogans such as "Vote early, vote often," and voters in his ward having a home address that happened to be the same address as a cemetery.

On the one hand, I admire her clever problem-solving ability. On the other hand, I'm more than a little frightened of her potential as an evil genius. I guess it remains to be seen which way she goes. We'll know for sure if, during a soccer game, I hear her tell her teammates, "he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. THAT'S the Chicago way."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Overheard at a Soccer Tournament

2 weeks ago, I took the U12 girls team which I coach to a tournament. The temperatures were in the mid-high 90's, my girls played ferociously (most of them hadn't practiced together until that very week), and we finished with a 1-1-1 record. Unfortunately, in our 4-team bracket, we were 3rd place. The 2nd place team (who walked away with 2nd place trophies) was also 1-1-1 (we tied them), but their win was by a higher score.

But what will make that weekend memorable for me were some of the things which I heard (or overheard) throughout the weekend:

1. "Dad, we were at the playground and we saw a guy carrying a gun," my daughter said to me. "What? Are you sure it was a gun? Any chance it was a cop?" I asked her. "No, he was dressed normal," she replied. At that point, one of my player's dad, who was standing nearby, said (in all seriousness), "Oh, you don't have to be a copy to carry, you can get a carry permit. I have one." Thus my biggest concern was not that my daughter thought she saw a guy carrying on a playground at a sports complex, but the dad of one of my players was defending it.

2. "Can you score on a corner kick?" Player 1 (on one team) asked Player 2 (who was on the other team). "Sure, haven't you ever seen Bend it like Beckham?" replied Player 2. What made this conversation amusing was that it was held between two opposing players (who were both Select players, not Rec) while on the field. It turned into a movie discussion group. And considering this was a Select game, you'd think the one girl would know that it was possible to score on a corner. Also, it's been a couple years since I've seen the movie, but the famous scenes in it involved penalty kicks, not corners, I thought.

3. "Dad, ball me!" This was said by a kid to his dad. The kid needed a ball with which to warm up. Dad had all the balls. So the boy asked his dad to perform a vital task at that moment: to ball him. Of course, channeling Beavis and Butthead the way I do, I had to hold in a laugh until I was ten feet away. And this reminds me, I need to teach my girls the meaning of the phrase "Dad, little help," as the always appropriate way to ask someone to kick a ball back to you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Strange Things Are Afoot at the Circle K

I have a Circle K near me. Or did…they were bought by some other fuel chain and renamed, but it’ll always be the Circle K (I feel sorry for anyone trying to find my house that is told to “turn left at the Circle K”).

One of the regular employees is a very nice, but very weird man with probable mental issues. He had brain surgery. I know this because every time I see him (about every month when I gas up there, or buy ice or propane), he manages to work into the conversation that he had brain surgery. Thus it was on Saturday morning when I went there to buy 2 bags of ice (for a soccer tournament in which I was coaching).

Me: Hi, I’d like 2 bags of ice.

Guy: Hummuna mumbla somethinga mumbla hummuna.

Me: Excuse me?

Guy: Hummuna mumbla somethinga mumbla hummuna.

Me: Umm…come again?

Guy: Hummuna mumbla somethinga mumbla hummuna.

Me: *Blank stare*

Guy: Oh, sorry! I was speaking Spanish and didn’t realize it. I do that every now and then, go back and forth between English and Spanish, on account of my brain surgery. I had brain surgery and I do things like that every now and then.

Me: *Uncomfortable smile*

Guy: So are you doing alright today?

Me: Uh…huhhh.

Guy: Good. That’ll be $5.08.

Me: *Hands crazy guy $20*

Guy: Alright, out of $20…hey, do you know what year Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue?

Me: What?

Guy: What year did Columbus sail the Ocean Blue?

Me: Uhhh…..Fourteen….Ninety…Two.

Guy: Very good! $14.92 is your change, here you go and have a great day!

Me: Thanks! *got the hell out of there quickly*

Here’s the really crazy part….when he was mumbling to me, I was absolutely positive he was NOT speaking Spanish. I know enough Spanish that I know when it’s being spoken around me, and he was not speaking Spanish. He was speaking some crazy language, like speaking in tongues. He almost sounded like Robert De Niro at the end of “Cape Fear,” when he was going under water and speaking in tongues.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Australian Over-The-Shoulder-Boulder-Holder

As anyone who's ever read more than 2 or 3 entries here knows, I can sometimes be a tad obsessed with vanity plates. This is primarily because I am an avid people watcher, and while seeing a person in the mall can often reveal nothing about their character, seeing their vanity plate reveals so much more. You might find that the driver has a keen sense of humor, or the driver lacks any creativity or originality, while others reveal the driver to be a flaming douchenozzle. And still others make you think, "I want to meet this driver just so I can find out why they chose this particular plate."

Such was the case on my way home from work on Wednesday night, and I was following this vehicle:

The question is not, "what kind of person is this," but rather, "WTF is an Oz Bra?" Is it a brassiere worn by an Australian woman? Is it a response to a question in Hawaii? "Where you want to surf next, bra?" "Oz, bra!"

Or perhaps it is a brassiere specially designed for Australia and all of its deadly flora and fauna. Imagine a bra that can repel green ants and redback spiders. Or a bra that creates a forcefield around the wearer that makes one impervious to the bites from taipans or death adders. Or a bra that drives box jellyfish from the shore, or can't be punctured by the teeth of a crocodile.

Maybe it's a specialty line of bras from Elle "The Body" MacPherson that hides aging lines. Or maybe something Phil Mickelson wears when he plays in the Australian golf open. Maybe an Oz Bra is what helped Nicole Kidman pretend to love Tom Cruise for several years.

As you can see, many a question has been generated by something so simple as a 5 letter vanity plate. He undoubtedly has people scratching their heads all the time. I personally would get a vanity plate, but I would crack under the pressure of trying to find something that would not make someone think I was an incredible feminine hygiene product.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Time To Get Some Protection

My older daughter, Thing 1, by starting 6th Grade, is now in Middle School, and is about to embark on a right of passage that kids her age all over the country have been doing for generations. It's something I myself did when I was her age, and her reaching this point in life fills me with nostalgia.

Covering text books.

Now that she's in Middle School, and has assigned text books, she is of course responsible for their long-term care over the next 9 months, and every school system across the country has kids at this same age take their books home and cover them. This ensures the cover of the book has that nice bright sheen to it for years, which is important when you're researching the capitals of Czechoslovakia and the USSR.

When I was this age, the standard was to use cut-up brown paper grocery bags, measured to fit, held together with tape, and would often last until the second to last month of school. In the interim, the book cover would get covered with doodles of all sorts. Favorite book quotes, favorite rock lyrics (I think anyone who looked at my books would have seen a strong belief in the ideal of not getting fooled again), names of girls, and of course the subject of the book (History for the boys, and History with a little bubble heart over the i for the girls). The extremely hopeless would buy store-bought book covers (usually covered in pictures of Strawberry Shortcake and other girly images). Well, the hopeless and those who had no older siblings to teach them how to cover a textbook (I had 2 older brothers, so I became an expert quickly). Basically, if you were cool, you had the brown paper cover. If not, you had store-bought. Every September, when we would go back to school, our parents would set aside a bunch of paper grocery sacks from the store and the dining room table would become a slaughterhouse of cut up brown paper, like some craft project gone seriously wrong.

Flash forward 27 years, and now it's Thing 1's turn. Her teachers have informed her that her books will have to get covered. Personally, I was excited over the prospect to teach Thing 1 the same skill my brothers taught me decades ago, and that I taught to my younger brother. It was a this point though that it was pointed out to me that this product is available in stores: Book Sox. Socks for books. Stretchy fabric covers that slip over the books and held in place with some sort of elastic, I guess. As the website says, "no measuring, no cutting, no taping." What the hell fun is that??? If we've lost the ability to cover our own textbooks, what will we lose next? The ability to defend our own borders?

This of course brings up the big question.....since Thing 1 is our oldest, we have no idea if other kids actually buy these, or if they're only purchased by the insanely hopeless like in my day. If we cover her books in brown paper bags from Kroger, will Thing 1 be elevated to the ranks of "cool kids"? Or will she be forever labeled as a "poor kid"? If we buy the Book Sox, will she be seen as some helpless geek that can't figure out how to cover a book? Or will she be at the same level as someone wearing a Twilight t-shirt from Hot Topic? These are the things we need to know to avoid getting our daughter branded as something negative.

I figured Middle School would be easy for Thing 1, since I knew which mistakes to avoid. Unfortunately, after so much time has passed, they probably changed the rules, and the mistakes are completely different than the ones I made. Somehow, it doesn't seem fair.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Talking Hypotheticals

OK, men: Let's say it's about 95 degrees Fahrenheit outside. *checks thermometer* Yup, 95 degrees. Not quite "Hotter than the hinges of Hell," but certainly in the "hot as balls" category.

And let's say you're with your wife/girlfriend/baby mama in a car, with two kids in the car seats in the back, and the lady is driving.

Let's say you need gas, and pull into a gas station.

Do you:

A: Get out and pump the gas?


B: Let the woman get out and pump the gas?

While I recognize that in this modern society, women are just as capable of pumping gas as men, isn't it a little bit of a dick move to sit in an air-conditioned car with the kids while the fairer sex gets out and gets her hands dirty from gasoline and germs pumping gas?

Or should I just simply count my blessings that she was kind of hot and exotic-looking in a Mediterranean sort of way, and gave me something to look at while I pumped gas into my own car?


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here I am, On the Road Again..... (Part 1)

I'm in sales. Industrial sales. Chances are, if you're reading this, the electricity operating your computer was supplied by a power plant with some of my parts in it. 80% of my sales are done right here in Georgia, but I have a few customers to whom I occasionally need to pay visits to. One in Colorado, one in Wisconsin, and one in Houston. Last week, it was Houston's turn.

Let me just start by saying that of all the cities to which I've ever traveled, Houston is my least favorite (and I once visited Buffalo New York in January!). It's hot, sticky, crowded, and worst of all, while claiming to be part of "The South," the state is completely devoid of sweet tea. For that reason alone, Houston sucks. There is nothing worse than going into a restaurant for lunch on a hot day and being told unsweetened tea is the only option.

So, it was with much reservation that I got up at 4:30AM last Thursday, shaved and showered, and left the house by 5:45AM so that I could drop my car off at the off-airport parking and be at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by 7-ish for my 8:45 flight. Traffic was light. That's the last thing that went well until about 5PM that day. I flew through the security lines only to be subjected to the group scolding by the TSA worker, yelling at us like 5 year olds about how there should be nothing in our pockets, not even our boarding passes. I'm reasonably certain if I jumped the line, this particular woman would not have had the physical stamina to chase me for a distance of more than 2-3 floor tiles.

Apparently, my laptop has been infected with malware which my various protections aren't quite able to eradicate (which stopped being a priority when the boss decided I was due for a new laptop). One side-effect of this malware was that it disabled my internet browsers, so I was unable to get online and work (and by work, I mean "write about all the funny/gross/sexy people at the airport waiting for flights), so I couldn't even pass the time doing something productive. I could at least see emails on my Blackberry, but that wasn't so great as one of them was an announcement that an acquaintance of mine passed away (he was 67 and had massive organ failures).

My 8:45 flight was late, because the plane I would be flying on was late coming in from wherever that plane was coming in from, so it was pushed back to 9:15. I kind of wish Delta had decided to put in a different plane, because the one we were on turned out to be an MD-88. If you're not familiar with that model, imagine having about as much elbow room as a coffin. The legroom wasn't too bad, but I spent the entire 2 hour flight wedged in against the woman next to me (I had the window). The armrest was up, and she kind of spilled over the middle (I should have arranged a DMZ like my younger brother and I had when traveling by car as kids....anyone crosses the middle, they are fair game for getting punched). She wasn't fat...she was just big, like a basketball player. Pushing 6' tall with hips wider than mine. Not only that, there was little cushion left to the seat. It was hard enough that I had this metal bar pushing up against my coccyx the entire flight. That was a brief experience in how it feels to be pregnant, I think.

As this is obviously a long entry, I will break this up into at least one more part. Stay tuned tomorrow for:

* Bladder Control Issues
* Airsickness Bags
* Houston
* Smoking Laptops
* Unsweetened Iced Tea
* Expense Account Meals
* Customer Service
* Salesmanship

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Real Life TFLN

I got this text message from my brother earlier today. I'm debating whether or not to submit it to TFLN.

"Woke up this morning with, what I think to be, a booger in my ear. D (his wife) claims that once I flicked a booger on her in my sleep. Do you have similar sleep issues?"

I could only reply with, "No. No I do not."

Even if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't admit it. The biggest sleep issue I had was when I was a kid and talked in my sleep. Apparently my dad once peeked in on me thrashing about in my bad, and I was saying, "No! No! Bi....Bionic....Bionic Bigfooo......" Thankfully I haven't talked in my sleep in years, I can't imagine the kind of crap I'd say. Probably "you call that a tackle?" and "Dammit, if you don't shoot, you won't score!" Or worse.

Bon Jovi lyrics.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Karma Got Me Back

Tonight, shortly before dinner, Thing 1 was playing with her Nintendo DS on the sofa. She was so engrossed in her game that I couldn’t let the opportunity pass, so as I walked behind the sofa on the way to the garage, I licked my finger and gave her a Wet Willy (in the event you’re not familiar, it’s the act of licking a finger and sticking it in someone’s ear). She was mildly annoyed, but not enough to stop her game.

On the way back to the kitchen, I walked by the same sofa, and this time, I made a very exaggerated motion of licking my finger to do it again, which she saw and heard. As I came in with my finger, she knocked it away.

I continued on to the kitchen when I realized I hadn’t stopped to give her a hug and kiss upon coming home from work. So, I walked back to the sofa and leaned over the back of it to kiss her on the cheek. Thinking she was about to be Wet Willied again, she closed her hand into a fist and swung at me, basically bitch slapping me, connecting the back of her closed fist with the right side of my face.

She was worried for a second, and while it stung, I knew it was my own fault and gave her a hug regardless, having a laugh about it. Lesson learned by me: There’s only so many times I can push that button before paying the price. I think she stands a good chance of surviving middle school next year.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saving Lives With Google Maps

On Saturday morning, the phone rang. My older daughter, Thing 1, immediately grabbed the phone, having seen that it was her favorite uncle (my younger brother) on the caller ID. My brother asked for me, but Thing 1 thought I was still in the shower so she told him I was not available.

Apparently my brother, E, felt that T1 could help him because I heard her say, “Hang on, let me turn on my iPod.” She then started fiddling around with her browser (it’s an iPod touch) and pulling up a website.

(I should point out, she was at the family computer at the time, accessing iTunes)

I heard her ask E for the name of the street he was on, and she then said she would find it on a map. She then asked him what street he was trying to find. At this point I realized my brother’s potentially tragic mistake: He was lost, and was relying on his 11 year old niece to help him find his way. Seeing as how my brother lives in Manhattan, unless he was a hundred miles from home, it’s not likely she would be able to locate any streets where he was, so I insisted she hand me the phone. I then sat down at the computer and pulled up Google Maps.

Me: So where are you?

E: 39th and Northern Blvd, Queens. I need to find the Queensboro Bridge to get back to Manhattan.

I found his intersection online, and told him to take a right on Northern, and it would take him right to the bridge.

E: OK, I’m heading that way now.

Me: OK, in a few seconds you should be passing Honeywell Street. Do you see it yet?

E: No, I just got out on the road, I only went half a block.

Me: You should be halfway there, bad traffic?

E: No, I’m riding a bike.

Me: A bicycle?

E: Yeah.

Me: You rode a bike across the Queensboro Bridge? To Queens?

E: Yeah. There’s a footpath across the bridge.

Me: *stunned silence*

E: I only live 3 blocks from the bridge, it’s not far.

E often does things that boggle my mind. He once bought a sofa that was too big to get into his apartment. He did the logical thing….rather than returning it, he and his friend cut it in half, moved it in two pieces, and then reassembled it using plates to join it back together. He once decided to go jogging with a friend. However, his friend was running in the NY Marathon at the time, so he waited for his friend to run by his intersection, and he ran out into the pack and ran with his friend. For 10 miles. When he got to where he needed to be, he stepped out of the pack and then called me to say “hi.”

And now he rode his bike from Manhattan to Queens. Which really isn’t far, but the idea of taking a bicycle into that kind of traffic, crossing a bridge, and then getting lost and having to call his brother 800 miles away, is just kind of odd.

But not as odd as thinking his 11 year old niece could help him out by pulling up a map of Queens on her iPod.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Saw The Sign

A sign of a bad economy....every intersection around town has a sign advertising some opportunity to make money (which rarely work), usually as a telemarketer. "Earn $3K a month FROM YOUR OWN HOME! Call 401-555-1212!"

To differentiate between them, sometimes the guys with these offers / pyramid schemes have to be creative in order to get the jobless calling them instead of the other guys offering ways to help you earn money from your own home.

Thus we have signs like this:

I am assuming the hidden message is, "You will make so much folding money working from me that you'll be able to go into your regular job and slap your boss (and then spend the weekend in the county lockup). I have not called the number. Mostly because I'd be worried that my number would thus be on his caller ID, and I would get endless phonecalls wanting to know if I needed a job.

Further up the road, I saw one with similar handwriting that said, "Too much month at the end of the money, call 678-278-8274."

In college, I would have absolutely called this number.

At 3AM.

Hammered. Off. My. Ass.


Monday, April 5, 2010

When in doubt, mumble.

The above piece of advice is how my 11 year old, Thing 1, gets through the day. When asking my wife or I for permission to do something she knows we will reject, she tends to mumble her way through the request, hoping that by hearing only every other word, we will get only a scrubbed-version of what she wants to do and thus rubber-stamp it.

Example: "I want to *something something* with my friends, can I?

"What? Speak up, please."

"I want to show my friends this really cool website on our computer, can all 5 of them come in?


Saturday was one such day where she made a valiant attempt to get something past us. I was on the phone with my sister-in-law (my younger, hipper SIL, the wife of my brother). She has a fairly strong finger on the pulse of pop culture, so when Thing 1 iinterrupted our conversation and asked for permission to buy a song called "How Low" from iTunes, I asked her if she was familiar with the song. Needing more info, I asked T1 for the name of the artist. "Curtis, or LaCurtis, or something like that.

I relayed this info to the SIL, and she advised that she was not familiar with any artist named Curtis/LaCurtis, nor a song called "How low." Thus, I told T1 that it would have to wait until I could check out the lyrics. Upon telling this, she protested by saying, "But mom told me I could download the song once she checked out the lyrics!"

"The fact that you are asking me suggests she has either not done so, correct?" I asked.

"No, she hasn't," she replied.

"Then I will check them out later and let you know." T1 told me she had the song (music/lyrics only, not the video) up on Youtube and I was welcome to check them out when I was done talking.

Once I finished talking to the SIL, I went into the office and looked at the screen. The title of the song was "How Low," by the singer we all know better as LUDACRIS. At that point, I already made my decision, but so that I wouldn't be accused of passing judgment too quickly, I checked out the lyrics. Here's an excerpt:

She could go lower than I ever really thought she could,
Face down, ass up!
The top of your booty jiggling out your jeans,
Baby pull your pants up,
I like it when I see you do it,
Better then I ever seen it done before,
A lot of women drop it to the ground,
But how low can you go?

(Lyrics by Ludacris)

Would you like to guess how far I read before I made my final decision?

I wouldn't suggest that this song is *as* bad as "Low" by Flo Rida, but I think I have a strong statistical case that any hip hop song with "Low" in the title is not appropriate for an 11 year old girl. (Says the man who loaded a Who greatest hits compilation onto Thing 1's iPod, which included the song "Squeeze Box," a song that is one giant sexual innuendo...but one that Thing 1 will not realize until she's in her 20's).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Actual Wrong Number

Tonight, the family and I took in a high school soccer game (they were having a special night for our youth club where all players in their jerseys got in free, and the kids from our club got to be ball runners on the touchlines.

During the game, my cell phone rang. It is a work-issued phone, and it was a local area code, so thinking it was a customer of mine I answered it.

Me: "Hello, this is Steve."
Woman: Whose phone is this?
Me: This is Steve.
Woman: Is this a business?
Me: Uhhh....yes (I the said my business name).
Woman: What business are you in?
Me: Widgets.
Woman: Is this a strip club?
Me: Uhh....no! (at that point, I assumed this was an April Fool's joke and I hung up the phone).

A few people around me, including the guy I coach with (who is a church pastor) started laughing, and joking about how I was getting pranked. Figuring they were right, I had a good laugh. And then the phone rang again.

Me: Manuel's Taqueria (in a slightly Spanish accent).
Woman: Who did I reach?
Me: Manuel's Taquerie.
Woman: Is this a restaurant?
Me: Si.
Woman: Where are you located?
Me: Acworth Georgia.
Woman: What is your address?
Me: 5 Main Street.
Woman: OK, thank you.

She hung up, and everyone around me was snickering at the idea that I obviously gave this woman a fake business and address. And then the phone rang again. Same woman. At this point, everyone around me was convinced I was being pranked. I again announced myself.

Woman: Did you call me? I had this phone number in my phone. (she then confirmed my phone#, which was accurate)
Me: No, I haven't. This is a business phone, I've had it on me all day, and I can assure you I did not call you.
Woman: This was a couple of weeks ago that you called. I just found my phone today, and the call was a couple of weeks ago.
Me: No, wasn't me, unless it was a wrong number. What's your name?.
Woman: Christine.
Me: Is this a business phone number?
Woman: I'm a dancer.
Me: Oh. OHHHH. Well....no, maybe I dialed a wrong number. I definitely wasn't trying to reach you.
Woman: Ok then, sorry.

So....apparently, a few weeks ago I accidentally called a stripper, who subsequently lost her phone, found it, and wanted to know why I called her, thinking (hoping?) that I would have a dancing job for her.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's In Your Desk Drawer?

Here are the contents of my “junk” drawer in my desk at work.

Each Friday morning, on the way to work, I hit the Chick-Fil-A for a chicken biscuit, hash browns, coffee and an orange juice. I usually use 2 creamers in my coffee, plus 2-3 sugars, and of course I grab the obligatory stir stick.

Usually, my ritual includes walking up to the counter (walking in is quicker than taking the morning drive-through, which wraps around the building), place my order, and walk over to the condiments rack where I proceed to take 4-6 creamers, 4-6 sugar packets, and 2-4 stir sticks. The end result: I usually have a week’s worth of creamer and sugar in my office, in the event I run out of creamer that I buy and keep for my morning coffee (which is better than the free stuff provided by the office).

It’s not quite the mess that was Allison’s purse in “The Breakfast Club,” but it’s a hell of a lot more functional. It won’t get me through a zombie apocalypse, but it will get me through a week in the office.

One more thing….the metallic-looking object on the right is actually a photograph. I invite all to guess what that might be a photo of.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An Actual Conversation (Subject: Olympics)

The following conversation took place during the Winter Olympic closing ceremonies between myself and my 5 year old daughter, Thing 2.

Thing 2: Dad, what was your favorite sport in the Olympics?
Me: Well, I really liked the Hockey, Skeleton, and Snowboardcross. What was your favorite sport?
Thing 2: Curling.
me: Curling?
Thing 2: Curling.
Me: Really?
Thing 2: Really.

(Note, this conversation took place after she saw the pants worn by the Norwegian men's team during the gold medal match between Canada and Norway. That might have tipped the scales).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pre-Teenage Wasteland

For Christmas, Santa Claus gave me one of the greatest CD's I've ever owned. It is The Who's "Then and Now 1964-2004" greatest hits compilation. Since Christmas, it has been in the CD player of my car, and whenever the radio was lacking anything interesting I would hit "play" and listen to the best that Townshend could write and Daltry could sing. Aside from not including "Bargain" and "Baba O'Riley," it is otherwise full of some of the most amazing songs in rock history. Often against their will, I have been exposing my kids to The Who whenever we'd run errands, going to soccer practice, taking them to school, etc.

This week, I was asked a question by Thing 1 that frankly about stunned me. Aside from "Boris The Spider," she never really shared my obsession with The Who, so imagine my shock when she asked me to download the CD onto her iPod Touch.

"Which songs?" I asked.
"The whole thing, I guess," she said.
"All 20 songs?"
"I guess."

So there I sat yesterday, loading the entire CD onto her iTunes account and then downloading it onto her iPod. As each song loaded, I got pleasure knowing there was finally some musical balance to her playlist, with The Who classing up the joint after it was spoiled by the likes of Justin Bieber and other future has-beens.

I don't think I've been this pleased with my ability to shape her mind since the first time I heard her state that the New York Rangers suck.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Olympic Opening Ceremony Commentary...In Texts!

One week ago, during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics (the only watchable Olympics), I exchanged a series of text messages with a friend of mine, K. Both of us tuned in to see who would light the flame (we both predicted that assclown Wayne Gretzky, although I was secretly hoping it would be Alan Thicke). The following are the messages we traded. Many of these are random thoughts throughout the evening. Others are obviously part of a larger conversation.

Note: Many of these may sound anti-Canadian. We're not. Although, that will be pretty hard to prove after what you're about to read.

Everything we're writing is after the athletes enter the venue.

K: According to Kevin Smith, it'll be Gretzky.

Me: (upon seeing the Hungarian team enter) There were a lot of Hungarians considering the Winter Games involve almost zero swords. (My friend is Hungarian-American, 1st generation. Magyars are not known for winter sports acumen, or any sport that doesn't involve fencing, wrestling, or circus tricks)
K: Or juggling.
Me: Maybe they are freestyle skiers or snowboarders, those sports require the skills of circuls people.

Me: (upon seeing Sarah MacLachlan) Lip synching?

Me: I saw a cute blonde in the Armenian delegation. 2 eyebrows. I think she's Armenian by marriage.

K: (upon seeing a performance of about 500 fiddlers playing some folk song) Uggh. Too many fiddlers. Where's Charlie Daniels?
Me: In a cardiac care center. I think poutine would be too much for his heart.
Me: Canada hearts flannel.

Me: (upon seeing about 500 tap dancers) The job application:
-Are you white?
-Are you Canadian?
-Can you tap?
-Are you willing to have your feet set on fire?

And then one of Canada's most famous slam poets came out and did a poem about what it means to be Canadian. Transcript here.

K: Snore
Me: Welcome to the Winter Olympiad! We're going to rock you with.....ummm...poetry.
Me: The Uzbek delegation must be SO confused.
K: Most delegations are. Hell, I am.

The chair of the Vancouver Olympic committee then came out to say a few words.

Me: Take a drink each time he says "eh". (note...I would've taken zero drinks)
Me: Pleasepleaseplease finish with "now take off hoser!"
Me: (upon hearing end of speech) Fuck this, I tuned in for stereotypes, not sentiment.
K: Good day, eh?

Me: The world is watching. Or at least those that can comprehend winter. And tv.
K (a volunteer firefighter): That's a dome. Big hazard for a big indoor fire.
Me: If it can handle suckage like poetry, it can handle combustion.

The athletes all seemed to have been given these little drums to beat along to the officials during their speeches.

Me: Those drums will be traded for condoms by Wednesday.

Enter KD Lang. Singing "Hallelujah"

K: Oh God Dammit! Light the stupid thing already!
Me: I thought KD Lang was a chick?
K: And this song is seriously overplayed.
Me: A (my wife) just said she's looking more and more like Alec Baldwin every day.
K: Wait, that's a chick?
K: Looks like Joe Peschi
Me: Halllleeeelluuuuujahhhhhhhhhhhhh
K: Did you just say "youts"?
Me: What is a grit?
K: OK, I see the Baldwin now.
Me: This song was shorter in Shrek
K: Beat me to it.
K: Timberlake did this better for Haiti.
Me: (as the athletes wave their free swag flashlights) Wave these lights or no free condoms for you!!!
Me: I bet 9 out of 10 people commit suicide to this song.
K: On and on and on....is this ever gonna end?
Me: OK, I have a theory. Janet Gretzky lost the flame on a bet. (Janet Jones-Gretzky was alleged to have been involved in a gambling ring)

Announcer on TV: 12 minutes until the flame enters the building.
K: 12 minutes?
Me: Fuck! 12?

In comes the Olympic flag. Here is my description of the folks carrying it.
Me: Dude, Donald Sutherland, dude, dude, chick, old chick, dude, oh cool, Bobby Orr! And, chick.
K: Bobby Orr, I'm impressed.
Me: I'm impressed he can walk. Bad knees.

Enter some opera singer, singing the Olympic Hymn.

Me: JESUS!!!!
K: My ears started bleeding.
Me: The astronaut (one of the flag bearers) is wondering why she's there.
K: So am I.
Me: Put the camera on Shaun White. I guarantee he's lip synch mocking her.
K: I could have checked the hockey scores waiting for this nonsense to end.
Me: This song was shorter in Shrek.
Me: She's actually sort of hot.
*Song finishes*

K: Did those Mounties just goose step away?
Me: Yes, Mounties are a 50 cent cab ride away from exterminating Jews, Gypsies and Newfies.

In comes the flame. It's being passed around the arena like a joint at a Dead concert.

Me: It'll be Gretzky and he'll do it by pulling a slot machine lever.
K: Here's a surprise! The Hanson Brothers!

Me: Gretzky takes it up the ass....
K: Doo dah, doo dah

Gretzky has the torch, and he's getting ready to light this weird mechanical 4-legged contraption. Only 3 legs some out of the ground.

Me: Shit! The lift broke, eh?
K: Awkward....
Me: Now's a good time for a Twix
Me: Call the MacKenzie bros!

They finally decide to light only 3 of the 4 legs. The 4th one is hopelessly broken. While they're trying to lift it, Gretzky is standing there looking clueless, like he just showed up at a casino and all they have is Bingo. The 4 celebrities go to light the 3-legged flame.

Me: For those about to rock....FIRE!....we salute you!

Me: And I thought Atlanta had a shaky start when Mohammed Ali lit the flame. Boom-tish!
K: Ba-Zing!

Gretzky leaves the building to light an outdoor flame at a nearby park.

K: WTF? Run you lazy shit!
Me: The cab broke down.

Cut back to the arena, to the show going on.

Me: Shaun White is going to look for Danish strange in 3, 2, 1....

Cut to Gretzky, lighting the outdoor flame, an identical version of the one inside the arena. But with 4 legs.

Me: Oh...so that's what it's supposed to look like.
Me: $20 Canadian says some drunk tries to climb it. Tonight.
K: What's that US? $300?
Me: Aboot $15.
K: (talking about the flame) Just as goofy as the other one. Well, 125% goofier.

K: All right, I'm off. Good night, eh?
Me: Yeah, good night. Take off, eh?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Commuter of the Day 2/15/2010: Deez Nutz

Stereotypes are horrible. Stereotypes are what prevents us as a species from evolving past caring about things like skin color, religion, language, etc.

Unfortunately, there is often a hint of truth behind the evil that are stereotypes.

For example, today's Commuter of the Day:

On the same vehicle (a pickup truck hauling....take my word for it....bedroom furniture) is a Sons of Confederate Veterans commemorative license plate AND a pair of Truck Nutz. Well, I think they're Truck Nutz. They could also be Bulls Balls, Bumper Nuts, or any number of scrotum-related vehicle accessories available online (all of them with rush shipping options available, in the event you want to pay extra for shipping to get these balls on your vehicle quicker).

In summary, while stereotypes are by nature wrong, there tends to be some truth to them. Germans love sausage and accordion music. Canadians love hockey. Confederate History fans love them some balls hanging from their truck.

Anybody have a favorite or least favorite stereotype? Share with the group!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Hills Are Alive....

Thing 1 is in her last year (5th grade) of elementary school. In 5th grade, the school requires all students, as part of the music curriculum, to purchase a recorder (not a huge expense, the one we got is $7). In order to pass music class, they must take tests throughout the last half of the year, playing songs they are learning on the recorder.

Naturally, she practices at home.

While I love my daughter, and I love how she is interested in a variety of subjects and disciplines (music, chorus, sports, etc), the sound of "Hot Cross Buns" played on the recorder is, I'm afraid, beginning to be too much to bear.

I'm starting to wonder if setting myself on fire really would hurt all that much.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Next Stop: Bangalore

I worked from home yesterday. My work laptop has an internal wireless card, and I have my cable modem hooked up to a wireless router so that I can work anywhere inside the house, or in the backyard if I so choose.

Yesterday afternoon, without warning, I completely lost my internet connection. I checked the modem and the router and both were working fine and sending strong signals (my wireless card even showed it as a strong signal). My home desktop PC connected to the internet perfectly fine. As a last resort, I checked with Thing 1. She has an iPod Touch, so I asked her if she was getting a signal.

"Thing 1, are you online right now? I can't connect to the internet," I said."

"Yeah, I'm online now and reading emails. Did you try turning it off and turning it back on?" she asked.

I stared blankly at her for a minute in disbelief, that she gave me the same suggestion dozens of IT specialists (literally) around the world (very literally) have given me for years, as a sign that they don't know what the hell to do to fix the problem.

"That's what I do when my iPod freezes up, it fixes it every time," she added.

Grumbling, I went back to my computer and fiddled around with it some more. By that, I mean I furiously hit the "connect" button next to my wireless connection. After 10 minutes, fed up, I shut everything down and rebooted. In minutes, my desktop was back up, and I received a signal that I have multiple wireless signals available (my neighbors all have wireless). I clicked on mine, and instantly it said "connected."

I couldn't believe it. An 11 year old girl provided the solution to my wireless problem. And it worked. I am fully expecting her to also tell me that my cables are too long, which is why my network is too slow. If that happens, I'm outsourcing to India for a new daughter. She will be beautiful, dark-skinned, have an insanely thick accent and answer to the name "Laura."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


*Operations Security

Definition: Operations security (OPSEC) is a process that identifies critical information to determine if friendly actions can be observed by adversary intelligence systems, determines if information obtained by adversaries could be interpreted to be useful to them, and then executes selected measures that eliminate or reduce adversary exploitation of friendly critical information.

In other words....a completely foreign concept for a five year old.

This weekend, we went to the Ikea in Atlanta, in the hopes of finding bedroom furniture for Thing 1, our 11 year old that would be more befitting a girl that will soon be in middle school. As anyone who has ever been to an Ikea is all too aware, it is a cornucopia of chaos. Mindless suburbanites wandering throughout a massive furniture showroom cum warehouse are everywhere, so many that you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting one (and if you then labeled said dead cat with something in Swedish....Död Katt, for example.....you could probably sell it for $9).

It's also a brilliantly fantastic place to people watch. College students are common, in the ultimate paradox....they are horrified at the idea of shopping with their parents for college dorm furniture, but willing to put up with it for the prospect of getting new furniture.

One can also see lots of young couples, fresh out on their own, on tight budgets and willing to put together furniture with no written instructions, only pictures, with Swedish names. And one can also see urban hipsters who don't have a lot of money because they are willing to work low-paying jobs simply for the chance to live in a city. These types can be seen wearing eclectic clothing like combat boots, Ramones t-shirts, and funky hair styles.

Enter Thing 2. At five years old, she is a mixture of both discretion and excitement. While perusing one of the furniture sections, she spotted something which she simply had to tell me about. So she crooked her finger and signaled that I bend down to hear a message. When I did so, she whispered, "She has green hair!" I didn't quite hear her at first, so she repeated it louder, "She has green hair!" I straightened up and started looking around for someone with green hair. If it was important enough for Thing 2 to mention, then I owe it to her to stare.

Not seeing her at first, Thing 2 decided I needed help. So she pointed right at the young green-haired woman and said, in a loud outdoor voice, "RIGHT THERE!" Following her finger, I looked over and sure enough, there was a woman, about 25, with bright green hair. And she was looking right at Thing 2.

I believe the time has come to teach the concept of OPSEC to Thing 2. Never pointing, but rather using signals to alert me to the presence of somebody that is funny looking. "Psst...behind you. Behind me. Over my left shoulder. Don't look, but she's over by the water fountain." I think once she has this down, she will be a brilliant scout of funny looking people everywhere.

I think I'll take her to Costco this weekend for practice.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Complete Works of Shakespeare Can't Be Far Behind

My younger daughter, Thing 2, just turned 5. She is in Pre-Kindergarten, and will be starting Kindergarten in August. She knows her alphabet and her numbers, and spends a lot of time practicing her letters. Mostly, it's random letters thrown together. The only word she knows how to write is her name.

She has a miniature white board that hangs on her bedroom door, with a marker, and will often use that to practice words. Yesterday, completely by accident, she wrote the word ELF. When my wife pointed this out to her, she was incredibly proud of herself and declared that she would never erase that whiteboard.

Now if we can just team her up with an infinite number of monkeys and an infinite number if typewriters, she'll be able to recreate all of Shakespeare's works, seeing as show she already has a good start on "A Midsummer Night's Dream."