Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Power of the Written Word

Yesterday I opened my big mouth and wrote an impassioned plea to Turkey Hill to bring back a certain flavor of ice cream.  I would like to report today that the execs over at Turkey Hill read my post, wept with compassion and immediately called their dairy managers to switch all production over to making Double Dunker.  Unfortunately, I cannot report that.  What I can say is that I need to do a little research before I open my yap. 

Whoever runs the @TurkeyHillDairy Twitter account replied to me and told me to look out for Double Dunker coming out this month and sent me a link to their 2010 limited edition schedule.  I consider myself to be fairly web-savvy, and I thought that I had been all over their site and I swear that never saw that calendar.  A little while after their Twitter reply, a Turkey Hiller (I don’t know if they really call themselves that), Alice, commented on my post and informed me that Double Dunker is also part of their Stuff’d product line!  I was feeling really dumb at this point.  How could this have slipped right under my nose?  I swear that I checked this out before too. 

Now that I have been proven wrong, I have a new quest, to find the elusive Double Dunker in the store.  I did the grocery shopping today, hoping to find it waiting for me in the ice cream aisle, but, alas, it is not there yet.  Only constant vigilance will prevail.  As soon as I find it, it will be mine, all mine. 

Thank you to everyone from Turkey Hill for replying and helping me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As I write this, the birthday sleep-over party is winding down.  I think they really enjoyed the Lunesta Pizza.  I am a little upset that I didn’t get to wear my new riot gear.

6 Days until FNM at the Mann!

An Open Letter To Turkey Hill

It has been a year since we first tasted Double Dunker.  It has been a year since we first experienced this wonder of frozen confections.  By the time we realized that this was the best ice cream ever created, it was gone.  Only six quarts and they disappeared so quickly.  We love your other flavors, Peaches ‘N Cream, Black Raspberry, Choco Mint Chip, Cookies ‘N Cream and so many others.  But no other ice cream even comes close to Double Dunker.  It feels like every spoonful of another ice cream is dishonoring the memory of Double Dunker, an act of unfaithfulness to our love for your chocolate cookie swirl and your creamy mocha goodness.  Eating ice cream is supposed to be a joyous occasion, but you have spoiled our taste buds.  You have left them wanting for something they can never again have.  We will continue to eat your other ice creams and drink your iced teas, but please, we implore you, Turkey Hill, to bring this back to us, bring back Double Dunker.  Fill this empty hole beneath our hearts once again.  Give our taste buds something to live for.

Ok, enough with the silliness.  In all honesty, Double Dunker is the best ice cream I have ever eaten, I think my wife and kids would agree as well.  I don’t even like mocha ice cream, but this was an exception.  It tasted like dunking a chocolate chip and Oreo cookie into a cup of coffee at the same time (hence the name).  They got the flavor exactly right.  I understood that it was a “limited edition”, but had I known that it would be gone so quickly, I would have stockpiled more.  We actually drove from our home in Maryland up through Lancaster and Chester Counties, PA, stopping at every Turkey Hill convenience store along the way to see if they had any left.  Of course, that wasn’t the purpose of the trip, but since we were there, we might as well stop and check. 

I grew up in Pennsylvania and had the benefit of living close to a Turkey Hill Minit Market.  I stopped in every morning before work to pick up a half gallon of their iced tea when I worked at the golf course.  I was extremely happy when a Redners Market opened up close to our home in Maryland and I saw that they carried Turkey Hill ice cream and iced tea.  I had actually forgotten how much I enjoyed their iced tea.  Their Green Tea Mango is my current favorite.

Help me support our cause to bring Double Dunker back.  Tweet “@TurkeyHillDairy – please bring back Double Dunker” or contact Turkey Hill on their contact page.  If you do, please be polite, I don’t want them to get pissed at me and never bring it back.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Twenty-five = Eight + One

Today is a big day for our household.  Yes, that’s right, it is six months until Christmas.  And yes, it is only eight days away from me seeing Faith No More at the Mann in Philly.  And yes, it marks one year since that child molester died of an overdose, may he rot in hell and his music be banned from the airwaves.  But more important than all of those things, it’s the birthday of two of my kids.  We don’t have twins, but we do have two kids born on the same day, seven years apart.  My oldest son turns eight and my daughter celebrates her first birthday.

We didn’t plan it this way, it just happened.  In fact, we really didn’t want it to happen that way at all.  It was the one day that we didn’t want our little girl arrive, but she chose that day to come anyway.  But it figures our child in utero would listen to us just as well as the two on the outside. 

The birth of each of our children was an exciting time.  For our first child, I was working in Delaware, about 42 miles from home when my wife called to inform me that her water broke.  I quickly packed up my gear and said a hasty goodbye to my coworkers as I sped out the door.  I think I made it from my office to the driveway of the house in just under 45 minutes.  I don’t remember any of the drive home, probably because it flew by in a blur.  I got my wife loaded into the car and headed to the hospital.  I don’t think she was nearly as nervous as I was.  She seemed calm and collected.  She was in labor a long time and didn’t deliver until 12:12 AM ET on 06/25/2002.  The nurse was complaining because she had all of the paperwork written up for him to be born on 06/24.

Our second son decided to come when I was at work, too.  I don’t think I made it home as fast this time because my wife was only being sent to the hospital for evaluation.  The nurse hooked all of the monitors up as soon as we arrived at the hospital and left us alone for about 30 minutes.  She came back in to check up on us and asked my wife if she knew she was having contractions.  My wife said that she thought she was but they seemed small.  He arrived a few hours after that, right in the middle of the Friends final episode.

Our little girl decided to sneak in.  I had just gotten done working for the evening, and sat down to play a little Call Of Duty: World at War with a friend and my wife appeared at the top of the basement steps.  “My water just broke.”  It was 12:14 AM ET.  We woke up the kids and wished my son a happy birthday.  We told him he was getting a very special gift, his baby sister decided she wanted to come on his birthday.  I was talking my time making sure everything was ready to go, making all of the phone calls, etc. but my wife was in a panic.  This was really different from the previous two, she wanted to be at the hospital as soon as possible, she was afraid she was going to deliver in the minivan on the way there.  So I popped on my racing hat, and was pulling a little under 100 MPH in our minivan on the highway.  I also got to go through some red lights.  I wasn’t going to do it, but my wife said “Just go already!”  I just nodded, looked both ways and floored it.  Our daughter arrived at 6:54 AM ET, about 6 hours after stepping into the hospital.

This weekend, we are having our first sleep-over birthday party.  If you don’t hear from me after this, it is because I will be recovering in a padded room in the nearest mental institution.  I already have a few nice ones picked out and I am downloading the admissions paperwork now.  It shouldn’t be that bad, we are only having three other boys here.  We will keep them locked safely away in the basement watching movies and playing games.  The nitrous tanks are filled and ready to be vented in if things get too rowdy.  My wife and I also have matching His and Her riot gear picked out if we have to invade the basement for any reason.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Domino Mutha…

It has been a week since my boys started their summer vacations.  The plan was to have them spend the first two weeks at home with me before they started their summer camp.  There isn’t an issue with being home with me while I work, they are fairly self-sufficient, i.e. they can get their own water or juice boxes, use the bathroom by themselves (I say nothing about aim), they can even feed themselves (if it is some sugary junk food).  I can get the same amount of work done with them here, I just have to answer an unending stream of questions and respond to an equally unending stream of complaints.  My theory is that if I can regularly give them something to occupy their minds and hands, they will be content.  And if I schedule my day right, I can actually spend some time with them and do some interesting activities.  My goal in choosing activities is threefold, do something educational, tire them out and not spend any money doing it.  My kids will suck a wallet dry in a matter of minutes if you give into their whims.

On Monday, I took the afternoon off and took the kids to Annie’s Playground (no this is not a strip club).  This is a playground built to honor a young girl who died in Baltimore after being hit by drunk driver.  It is one of the largest playgrounds in the country (according to the plaque at the entrance).  The place is enormous, I tried to get a good picture to show how large it is, but I could only get about 1/2 of it in any shot that I took.  It is a really safe environment for kids to play and offers them a wide variety of things to do.  There numerous tunnels, rope ladders, monkey bars, shaky bridges, swings and slides.  The entire ground level is covered in rubber mulch made from shredded tires.  The boys and I decided to play hide and seek first and within five minutes, I busted my knee open trying to crawl through a tunnel.  Obviously they designed it for children’s safety, not big oafish adults.  We spent about an hour there before deciding it was too hot and headed out to find something else to do.

After finding nothing around town that didn’t cost money to do, we headed back home.  As the kids rested, I checked a few things for work and noticed a cool math trick in my Google Reader from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

I spent about an hour teaching this to my 7 YO.  They don’t make kids memorize times tables anymore, so this might be a handy trick (pun intended) for him until he has them memorized.  The 6 YO sat and watched what we were doing but wasn’t really interested in trying it.  They really didn’t cover multiplication in kindergarten, so the concept was advanced for him.  Like the cartoon suggested, I imagined what it would be like to have twenty fingers (or just include my feet) and the concept worked the same way.  You just have to remember that it is now vigesimal (base 20) and not decimal (base 10).

Latter that night, we were searching through the game cabinet for something to do and I saw a box of dominos and coaxed them into learning how to play.  My 6YO complained at first because he already knew how to play dominos.  “You just stand them up in a row and knock them over.”  I explained that there were other ways to play and then explained the rules.  He finally agreed to play.  I was cheating in the beginning to let my 6 YO win, because I didn’t want him to loose interest too quickly.  He quickly became very good and I didn’t have to handicap myself.  The few hands that I won, I was tempted to pull little Doughboy action, but I figured that they should wait before teaching that part of the game.

This morning, my 7 YO stumbled upon something very cool.  He was searching on Google (with my supervision) for Lego animation videos and found hundreds of YouTube videos instructing you how to build different things with Lego pieces.  Both boys spent hours rooting through our box of Lego pieces to build various different guns and ships.  I love when they work together and build things.  They both stared intently at the monitor as other kids explained what pieces they would need and how to assemble everything.  Considering how closely they followed the directions (which is very different from when I speak to them), I thought of posting my own series of videos for them on topics like “How to pee without drenching the seat”, “Just throwing trash at the can does not equal throwing something away”, “Showering in Four Simple Steps: Get Naked, Bathe, Dry and Re-dress” and “Shut the hell up: The story of Daddy’s Nap Time.”  I could even do stop motion animation with Lego minifigs.

The boys also started Taekwondo last week and at tonight’s lesson, I started recording the session.  We can use this to practice on the days that they don’t have class.  MY 6 YO needs to work on stretching and my 7 YO needs work on his forms.

My next activity for them is card games.  Card games, much like dominos, will help them with counting and patterns and also help in developing some strategy.  I think I will begin with some basics like Blackjack and move into more complex games later.  I can’t wait to teach them Skat, it has been years since I played and it has always been one of my favorite card games. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

Happy Fathers Day to all of the fathers out there.  I had a great weekend.  We started it off by getting family photos taken by one of the moms from the elementary school.  She is just starting her business and I had seen some of the work she had done in the past and came highly recommended.  We had the photos taken outside in a beautiful park, so the boys could run around and play in between shots.  The kids behaved and smiled in all of the right places.  I can’t wait to get the pictures back next week.  And just in case you were wondering, none of the photos will end up on    When we got back, I spent the rest of the day working outside

I made the first official harvest from the garden yesterday.  The Romaine lettuce was preparing to bolt (forming a seed stalk), so the boys and I cut it down, washed it and bagged it.  We ended up with 6 one gallon freezer bags of lettuce.  We have so much lettuce in the house right now, I don’t know what to do with it all.  We are having salads at every meal and sometimes the salad is the meal.  I never thought that I would ever say something like that, I am not a “salad == meal” kind of person.  The amount of fiber that we are consuming is tremendous.  I have considered converting the shed into a curing house and drying the leaves, like they do with tobacco.  I can sit out on the deck and enjoy a nice pipe of Romaine, but I think I will stick to just eating it for now.  If only I had the forethought of planting a Ranch Dressing Bush or a Crouton Tree, we would be in business.

Since we busted out all of the weekend chores on Saturday, Sunday was truly a day of rest.  Of course, a day of rest would start out by being awakened at 6:49 AM ET by my boys.  They presented me with my cards and my gifts.  I got a chef’s apron and a Toblerone bar.  The latter was a reference to a running joke that I have with my wife that the turd wedges that you find in the baby’s diaper always remind me of a Toblerone bar.  But regardless of what it looks like, it is still pretty tasty. 

We went to church in the morning and then spent the rest of the day at the pool that we had just joined.  It was nice to soak my sore legs and back in the pool all day.  The kids had a blast, even our little 11 month old.  She had a great time in the water with mommy and daddy and laughed every time one of the boys popped out of the water next to her.  She earned the nickname “Richard Swimmins” for the day.

The boys are both timid around water, the same way I was at their age.  Neither one can really swim, so we hung around in the shallow end the entire time.  At one point, I was sitting on the edge of the pool and the boys were playing in front of me.  My 6 YO started to swim out towards the middle of the pool and abruptly stopped, spun around and headed back to the edge.  The look on his face told me something was wrong and I was just about to hop in when he got back to the edge.  Instead of calling or reaching for me, he grabbed his brother by the shoulder and pulled him close.  He began whispering in his ear.  I was beginning to get alarmed.  First of all, I didn’t think my 6 YO knew how to whisper and whenever the two boys get that close, they are usually conspiring to do something stupid. 

They broke apart a few moments later and headed in opposite directions along the wall.  I called to my 7 YO, because I knew he would spill the beans.  The 6 YO would get embarrassed and might start crying if I interrogated him and I didn’t want anything to disturb my calm. 

Me: “What’s going on?”

7 YO: “Oh, nothing, Ashley’s here.”

And that’s when I saw her, a little 6 YO girl from my son’s kindergarten class.  She was swimming with her sister on the other side of the pool.  That’s what caused my youngest son to turn tail and run.  He has admittedly “loved” Ashley for almost six months now.  He even tried calling her on his first day of summer vacation.  But gods forbid he talk to her now, when she is right in front of him.  There is also a rumor that my 7 YO likes or is liked by Ashley’s older sister, but my 7 YO denies it vehemently.  But I guess that is something they also inherited from me.  I sat and watched in amusement while my 6 YO swam around, avoiding even looking in the girls’ direction.  He wouldn’t say hello or even acknowledge that the girls were even there.  I tried coaxing him into going to talk to her, but his face would just turn a brighter shade of red and he would swim away.

My wife and daughter appeared a few minutes later and I explained the situation to her.  We both started working on him to just go say hello to them.   

Me: “Ashley looks like she is a really good swimmer, maybe you should ask her to show you how to swim.”

Wife: “No don’t do that, you’ll sound like a wimp.  Just swim over to her and say, ‘How you doin’?’” (said in a Joey-esqu fashion)

Nice, I am trying to develop him into a sensitive polite gentleman and she wants him to be a Playa’.  The boys eventually did talk to the two sisters.  Hopefully they will become less shy as they get older.  I wanted to explain to them both how in a few years they will be begging for those girls to talk them, but then I realized that I really didn’t want to encourage my boys to start chasing girls just yet.  They are moody enough now without having to deal with all of those emotions.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Flower Boy

I spent the majority of the day working outside in the blistering heat, mowing, weeding, trimming, and to top it off, spreading four cubic yards of black dyed mulch.  Not one but four different neighbors commented on my sanity for picking today to spread mulch.  I really didn’t mind it, it beat sitting behind a computer all day.  I tried imagining that it was five months ago and that I was really shoveling snow, but my mind (probably the advanced stages of heat stroke) kept wandering back to the summer of 1990.  That summer I got my first real 40 hour a week job.  I was 15 years old and I went to work on the grounds crew of a local country club.  The grounds superintendent was a golf buddy of my dad and uncle and hooked my up with the job. 

I had high hopes for my first real job.  I imagined that I would spend the summer riding lawn mowers and getting a good tan and getting paid for it.  I could see myself flying around on golf carts, driving the big tractors, and doing a “man’s work.”  Plus I would get to hang out with a bunch of college guys, who made up the rest of the summer crew.  I walked in the first day and was introduced to everyone.  No one had a real name, it was a whole jolly club with jolly pirate nicknames.  There was Baz, Zerb, Rimmer and Spike, and many others. 

But my dreams quickly collapsed into it a pile of dust.  The first thing I learned was that since I was only 15, I wasn’t allowed to operate any machines.  The second thing was that I had only two functions, take care of the clay tennis courts and flowers.  And my hopes of a cool nickname went down the toilet as my new boss introduced me as “This is Henry, The Flower Boy.”

Flower Boy wasn’t my only nickname that summer.  I was also Rookie, Rook, FNG, Cindy (due to a mole on my chest - “Nice mole, who do you think you are, Cindy Crawford?”), Rickshaw (more on that in a bit), and a few others that brought into question my sexual preferences.  This was nothing new, I was used to a bit of ridicule having been a nerd my entire life.

My boss then introduced me to the tools of my trade.  My primary job and the real reason why I was hired was to take care of the country club’s clay tennis courts.  They had to be perfect.  The tennis pro funded my job and she was willing to squeeze every penny of her investment to make her courts immaculate.  They had to be brushed, lined and watered three times a day.  The watering was the worst.  The courts had their own automated sprinkler system.  By automated, I mean, the sprinklers had to be manually turned on and off, and every five minutes, you had to run around and clear a clog out of one of the heads or adjust its pattern to avoid puddling.  So that meant I would get a stinky pond water shower three times a day.  Pond water on a golf course is wonderful mixture of fish shit, duck shit, goose shit, algae, and the runoff of thousands of gallons of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides.  On a good day is smells and tastes horrible and in the hottest part of the summer when the water level in the ponds is the lowest, it smells like raw sewage.

Every other day and every day that they had tennis tournaments, the courts had to be rolled.  Finally, I get to drive something.  Unfortunately that something was a mini steam roller like this.  Its top speed was in the neighborhood of 1 mile per hour.  You sit right behind the engine and inhale exhaust fumes and listen to deafening engine noise.  The most embarrassing part was having to drive it from the shop to the courts.  Imagine rolling two hollow steal drums over 1,000 feet of gravel, on a golf course.  I think every golfer wanted to have me drawn and quartered when I drove that thing.

My second responsibility was flowers, all 2,500 of them.  I had to plant, water, feed, mulch, weed, and prune every flower bed on the entire course.  My only means of transport was a two-wheeled garden cart, aka the Rickshaw.


I used this to haul hundreds of flats of flowers, hoses, fertilizer, and about 20 cubic yards of mulch that summer.  I didn’t mind doing the flowers around the clubhouse, it was the 18 tee boxes did me in.  My fellow grounds crew workers would conduct a series of “fly-bys” in various different golf carts and mowers, shouting epitaphs and pelting me with golf balls or water bottles as I made my way around the course.  I think it was Nietzsche who said, “That which does not kill me, only makes my urge to kill someone stronger.” 

Every once and a while, my boss or one of the crew would swing by where I was working and tell me about some new task to perform.  I got to unload a tractor trailer full of 80 lb. fertilizer bags by hand, trim hedges, pick cigarette butts out of the white gravel path by the men’s locker room, etc.  It didn’t matter what the job was, it was something different than looking at flowers all day long or choking on the dust of the clay courts.  That first summer I don’t think I ever got to work with anyone else.  I would just plod along at whatever task listening to a Walkman.  We didn’t have any fancy MP3 players in those days, it was either radio or cassette tapes.  I think I spent a large portion of every paycheck on AA and AAA batteries.  After working 8 to 10 hours a day, I could still hear voices and music in my head even after I took off the headphones.

The highlight of that summer was the grounds crew picnic.  It was on a Monday when the course was closed, my boss wheeled a grill, a couple picnic tables, and a keg out to the rough along the fifteenth fairway.  We would eat, drink and play a little tackle football.  I forgot to mention that most of the summer crew were either college football or lacrosse players, division II schools, but still guys a hell of a lot bigger than me.  They all talked about smearing my face in the turf and breaking off various limbs.  My boss joined in the smack talk too.  I replied (probably the most words I had spoken the entire summer), “I am a lot younger and faster than you, you better watch out you don’t get hurt, Old Man.”  I don’t know if subconsciously I really meant that or what, but on the opening kickoff, my boss caught the ball and I raced down the field full speed, made a clean tackle and dislocated his left shoulder.  I simultaneously became a hero for the day and an ass for really injuring the boss.

I loved every minute of that summer, regardless of the abuse or the work I had to do.  At the end of the summer, my boss asked if I wanted to stay on and work in the kitchen as a dishwasher.  That winter, while working in the kitchen, I met the girl who would later become my wife.  The following spring I went back to the grounds crew, still not a full fledged member of the crew, but I could at least drive a golf cart every now and then.  I lost the name Flower Boy too.  In the next five years of summer, winter and spring breaks from high school and college, I acquired quite a few new nicknames, learned how to suck the tits off the time clock, walk the dog and also had a few adventures.  If I get into reminiscing again, I will tell you about what not to drive into a pond, searching for severed fingers (two separate occasions), midnight course parties, the outcome of Lawn Equipment Vs. Wildlife or how not to hide a tattoo.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Don’t Blow My Vuvuzela

That’s right, it is FIFA World Cup Soccer time.  I am not a soccer fan, but during the World Cup and the Olympics I definitely tune in.  I like high-scoring and fast paced sports and soccer typically doesn’t deliver for me.  But there is something about the energy and intensity of the players and fans during the World Cup and the Olympics that makes it hard not to watch.  The athleticism of the athletes is astounding.  Anyone that can run around for 90 minutes in that heat has to be committed, either to their sport, their country or a mental institution.

I turned on the first match between Mexico and South Africa, the hosting country, on Friday.  I listened while I worked and turned around every now and then to check to see what was happening.  I had several meetings during the game so I kept the volume low enough to where I could hear what was being said in the meetings and also listen for any events on the field.  But there was a strange buzzing sound.  I spun around in my chair a few times expecting to see a large bee buzzing around my head.  I switched channels, turned the volume up and down, thinking that there was something wrong with my surround sound speakers.

At last, I turned to my trusty companion, Google.  Ah-ha!  The strange buzzing noise is a vuvuzela or stadium horn.  According to this article on, South African fans love to blow the vuvuzela.  I don’t think I could stand to hear that annoying noise constantly blaring in my ears.  But what is annoying to me sitting at home in the cool, dark comfort of my basement lair, could potentially be dangerous to the fans at the soccer matches.  According to the article, the constant noise can cause hearing loss, and also spread germs during South Africa’s cold and flu season.

Soccer fans are a weird bunch.  I can understand now why so many fans riot and go crazy during and after the matches.  If I had to sit around watching people run around for 90 minutes with an entire stadium blowing vuvuzelas, I would probably riot if my team lost.  That noise has to have mind-altering effects after long exposure. 

I can also see why soccer players are murdered when they make mistakes during the game.  Imagine running around for 90 minutes in sweltering heat, giving it everything you have, in front of the entire world, and one of your teammates making a mistake that earned your opponents a goal.  I don’t think you would have issues with someone shooting him in a dark alley after the game.  If I was on the team, I would reserve just enough energy so I could join in on kicking his ass myself if no one else did.

I will continue to watch the World Cup, but after that I am done with soccer until the Summer Olympics roll around again.  I will stick to hockey and football (yeah, that’s right, American Football).  At least they take a break so you can get up from the couch and take a leak during the game.  But if you have to watch the World Cup, stay safe, remember don’t blow someone else’s vuvuzela or let them blow yours, because blowing someone else’s vuvuzela is like blowing every vuvuzela that person has ever blown before and everyone else that has shared that person’s vuvuzela.




I just had to say it a few more times.  There it is out of my system now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Invisible Man

I began working from home in 2006.  It started out as one day a week and then progressed to coming into the office once every few months.  The need to go into the office is rare and I never decide to just go into the office for the hell of it, but sometimes I just have to.  I got an email the other day saying that my laptop had reached the end of its lifecycle and a replacement was ready for me in the office.  I scheduled a time to meet up with the technician and headed into the office for the first time in several months. 

Some funny things happen when I head into the office.  The first is that I have to wake up at the butt crack of dawn.  My sleep schedule has changed dramatically since I had to regularly commute and getting up early is not a nice thing.  I live 42 miles from my place of business and that requires me to get up and out the door before 7 AM if I want to be there by 8 AM.  Traffic was never an issue when I regularly commuted into work.  Today, of course, there was construction and at one point, it took me 30 minutes to travel 1 mile.  I would recommend not listening to Hatebreed and Soulfly while stuck in traffic, it does not lighten your mood any.  After getting past the construction site, it was smooth sailing.

When I finally get to the building, I have to wait for 15 minutes to get my security badge reactivated.  I get to stand in front of the impenetrable guard station right next to the space age badge reader and automatic sliding doors and shout that I work from home and I am just coming in to pick up a new laptop.  You can’t hear anything through the bullet proof glass and I am not good at reading lips, so I usually end up saying “what?” fifty times and pantomiming the international sign for “I can’t understand or hear you.” which is cupping your hand behind your ear and making a constipated face.  You would think that if they could afford a huge security desk surrounded by bullet-proof glass and Star Trek sliding doors, they could at least install a little microphone and speaker so that you could communicate with the guard.  Even two soup cans on a string would work better.

The best thing that happens is the reaction I get from the people I meet while I am there.  I have worked for the same company for 15 years (well, 14 years and 8 months).  I pass by people in the hallways that I know and have worked with in the past and even talked to on the phone recently.  I say “Hi” to them as we pass and I get “Oh…Hi.”  Sometimes I get an awkward smile, signifying “I am saying hello to be polite, but I really don’t know who you are.”  I am fine with that reaction, even if I have worked with that person for 15 years.

I am a “forgettable” person.  I always have been.  I am someone that you could meet at work, at a party, or wherever and we could spend hours, days and sometimes years talking.  But the next time I meet you, you would not know who I am, you would not recognize me.  I don’t mind it, but sometimes it would be nice not to have to go through introductions every time we meet.  There is a person I run into about once every couple of months, we worked together for years, our kids even attend the same school.  And every single time I run into this person, it is like we are meeting for the first time.

There are some big benefits to this.  I get to tell you all of the same lame chit-chatty stories all over again, like you have never heard them before.  But at the same time, I already know your stories.  I can be polite and just smile and nod in all of the right places.  But if I am feeling ornery, I can interject something like, “Oh yeah!  I remember that because I was at your wedding” or “Right, I sat in the cubicle next to you for two years.”  Or I can really weird them out by talking about their kids or their spouse by name.  Sometimes I even tell you your own stories and just change them slightly to make them mine.

I even get called by someone else’s name.  My boss’s boss could pick me out of a lineup and knows that I work for him, but he would still put someone else’s name on my face. I can’t count the number of times that I have been called Andrew, Brian or Hudson by the people I work with.  My name is Henry, how friggin’ hard is that to remember?  How many Henrys do you know?

I sometimes imagine that I could be an excellent spy or serial killer.  I could easily blend in with a crowd, even have conversations with different people and then slip away and no one would ever know that I was there.

I don’t plan on becoming a spy or serial killer any time soon, but the latter will depend on how often I get stuck in traffic.  I have my new laptop at home now, so all is good.  I get to spend the next several hours downloading and installing dozens of applications. Unfortunately, I have to head into the office again on Monday for a face-to-face meeting with one of my business partners.  I don’t know why face-to-face meetings are important, no one will remember I was there anyway.

For those of you that are interested in the tech stuff, here are the specs on my new machine:

  • Dell Latitude 6400
  • Intel Core2 Duo P8700 2.53GHz
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 150 GB HDD
  • Windows XP SP3 (not my choice, this is what I have to run for work)

My “standard” suite of software includes:

There are a lot of little apps I have installed, and I won’t list them all here.  I come up with a complete list and post it on a separate page.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Trim up a Pussy, Save the Planet

Everywhere I look I see something about the current crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and the BP oil spill.  It is truly a sad and tragic event on so many levels.  My sympathy goes out to the families of the men that lost their lives on the drilling platform and to all of the families that will lose their livelihoods as a result of this accident.  The environmental impacts will be catastrophic and be felt for decades to come.  My hope is that this will all end soon and the area will recover as quickly as possible.

I don’t want to get into a debate on whether BP is an evil company or who is in right and who is in the wrong or the politics of the whole issue.  We all know that fossil fuels are bad, big corporations are bad and we all ride bicycles everywhere and light and heat our homes with mouse farts (free range ethically treated mice, of course). 

I wanted to talk about what we can do to help.  For every natural or man-made disaster that impacts our planet, there are literally hundreds of ways that you can help out.  It could be as simple as donating some money and sending clothing or food items, or as complex as joining a volunteer organization and heading to the impacted areas and lending a much needed hand.  Many of us cannot simply drop what we are doing and run to some far off place, regardless of how desperate the situation is, but that shouldn’t stop you from sending what you can.

Sometimes the ability to help comes from a very unlikely source.  A few weeks ago, my wife forwarded me an email from the mobile pet groomer that we used for our dog.  I would typically disregard an email like this as an advertisement for their monthly specials or something similar and just archive it, but my wife followed it up with an instant message and told me I should read it. 

Here is the message:

I just shipped 23 pounds of hair and fur to the gulf coast to help with the oil spill.  This was collected from 141 dogs and 7 cats over the first 20 days in May.  The three Newfoundlands more than offset the cuts from the many Yorkies and miniature poodles.  The loose fur will be stuffed into nylon stockings which are doubled up and tied together to make "Booms" and "Mats" to surround and contain as well as soak up the oil spills.

…from your pets to the gulf!  Pretty amazing huh?   Give them a treat for me!  Thank you for your continuing support!

P.S. so how much hair is 23 pounds?  It tightly filled about 7 trash bags

The email also contained links to a few YouTube videos:

That is a pretty cool concept and you don’t have to do anything that you wouldn’t normally do to help out.  So here is your chance, pet owners, to make a difference in the world.  Go out today, find a groomer that supports this organization and get your dogs and/or cats groomed.  Help save the Gulf Coast.  Seriously, can you imagine a world without crawfish étouffée in it?  I certainly don’t want to live in that world.

For those of you interested in getting your pet groomed, we went with Aussie Pet Mobile.  And to all of those people that read the title of this post and your minds raced immediately to the gutter and you read it anyway, well, you’re my kind of people.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Tale of the Mind Weenie

I am all for potty jokes.  I will laugh when I hear words like “fart”, “poop”, “turd”, etc.  But even I have limitations.  Conversations in my household usually revolve around bodily functions, this is hard to avoid when you have two young boys around.  Every song, every name, every food gets converted into something that has a poop variation in it.

Me: “We’re having tortellini tonight.”

Random Child 1: “Turd-ellini, ha ha, turd-ellini”

Random Child 2: “turtle-weenie, I said turtle-weenie.  Dad, Daddy, did you hear me, I said turtle-weenie.”

Me: “Yes, I heard you, you can stop now.” (hee-hee, turtle-weenie, that’s not bad)

It’s not that they say it once, or even twice, but it is the constant repetition.  Eventually, every word is poop or pee and I just can’t take it anymore.  The shows they watch just make it worse.  There are a few episodes of Nick’s Fanboy and Chum Chum that have a character named Janitor Poopatine (get it? like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars…).  I hear that name repeated hundreds of times every time one of those episodes airs.  Even Disney is getting into it, they have a show now called Kick Buttkowski.

Every now and then they do come up with something interesting that causes me to laugh out loud.  A few days ago, we all headed out to play on the swing set.  My 7 YO jumped on the regular swing (green arrow in the pic) and began laughing at my 6 YO.  “You have to ride the Mind Weenie.”

6 YO: “Aww, the Mind Weenie.”

Me: “What is the mind weenie?”

6 YO: “This swing.” (pointing to the one with the red arrow in the pic)

Me: “Why is it called the Mind Weenie?”

6 YO: “Because it has a mind of its own and it hurts your weenie.”

You can’t argue with sound logic.  Name accepted and approved, carry on.

Their brains don’t always reside in the toilet, and it is at these times that I am really impressed.  On Sunday we were relaxing a little after a long weekend of playing.  We were watching The Blind Side and my 6 YO asked me why the boy didn’t have any clothes or somewhere to live.  I explained that for this boy, he didn’t have a mommy or daddy that loved him, so he didn’t have anyone to take care of him until the other family took him in.

6 YO: “Mommies and daddies shouldn’t be allowed to make babies if they won’t love them.  It should be against the law.  You and Mommy love us and you wouldn’t let that happen to us.”

7 YO: “Yeah, you and Mommy will always take care of us.”

That movie was emotional enough, and with this on top of it, there was nothing else I could say.  I just nodded and hugged them both a little tighter.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Long Weekends – Revisited

Long weekends are great.  Long weekends allow me to have two days to enjoy my family and spend extra time with my boys, if I rush around on Saturday and complete all of my chores.  The downside of a long weekend is spending extra time with my boys.  Please don’t misunderstand me.  I love spending time with my kids, I really do.  We play games, watch movies, go hiking, etc.  But it doesn’t matter what you do, what cool activities you have planned or how many things they have to play with, as time goes on the more their boredom level rises and the harder they are to please and the less time they will spend doing any one activity before wanting to move on to something else.

Children are amazing creatures.  They could have every toy imaginable, but they would rather play with a cardboard box or dig a hole in the dirt.  They could have ten kids to play with within a fifty foot radius of the house, but they don’t want to play with any of them.  You could run them all day long, but their energy level never drops, they just become more difficult to please and to deal with. 

I have begun work on a mathematical theory to calculate a child’s or a group of children’s behavior at any given moment. Since their behavior is directly proportional to their level of boredom and also their brazenness, you can use this equation to solve for either of them as well.  The theory is not complete and there are many more factors involved, but this is what I have so far. 

Henry’s Law of Childhood Behavior:

As you can see, the longer the time between when school ends and the time it begins again, the worse their behavior gets.  You can attempt to lessen the effects by spending more money, but as time goes on, you are screwed.  I am sure I will have much more data in the next few months on which to expand my theory.  I wonder if they will give me something to write with in my padded cell? 

Here is an example of the formula in action.  We promised the kids we would break out the water guns and water slide on Monday.  So, I spent 30 minutes filtering through two 40 gallon Rubbermaid storage bins filled without outside toys to find all of their water guns, of which they had about ten last summer.  They, of course, wanted to play with every other toy that I took out of the bins.  Once everything was put away back into the bins, I tested each one out.  I found one that worked.  The rest were so packed with sand and rocks that they triggers were completely disabled.  I cleaned them out the best I could, but to no avail.  Others were missing vital pieces, like the water reservoirs.  Luckily, the 6 YO had gotten a brand new one for his birthday, so they each had one.

I filled a large 20 gallon tub with water and let them loose.  This was supposed to buy me some time to dig out the water slide and get it set up.  I stepped out of the garage ten minutes later with the water slide and all water gun play ceased immediately and they began to hover over me like vultures.  The set up, which would normally take about ten minutes, took more like 30 because I constantly had to step around children.  And then my children started to multiply.  I no longer had two kids up my butt, now I had five.  I felt like I was Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, if I built it, they would come.  Water slide inflated, water on, let the fun ensue and my leisure time begin.

Thirty-two minutes later, they were done with it.  Thirty-two minutes!  It took longer than that to set up!  I hadn’t even had time to sit down yet.  And then they had to the balls to say, “You know what I want to play next?  The eating lunch game!”

I have never beaten my children, nor have I beaten a neighbor’s child, but I must admit that I came very close to clubbing them each over the head with an aluminum baseball bat and swearing under oath that they all received blunt trauma to their heads from jumping off the water slide, which, your Honor, I told them specifically not to do several times.

My wife graciously played short-order cook, and served up ten hot dogs with a side of Flavor Blasted Xplosive Pizza Goldfish.  I got the part of waiter and busboy.  After the meal, they all lounged in the sun while I broke down the water slide.

Life is good.

Later that night, the very fabric of reality began to rip.  The boys prepared for their showers, complaining that they didn’t need showers because they played in water all day.  My wife and I were shouting orders because they some how forget how to undress themselves, bathe, get dressed again, etc.

Child: “Do we really have to?”

Other Child: “He goes first, I went first last night.”

Wife, shouts from the baby’s room: “Make sure you put your clothes in the wash basket.”

As clothes hit the floor, nowhere near the wash basket, Me, growling: “Did you hear what I just said?”

Wife: “I said that.”

Me: “Said what?”

Wife: “To put their clothes in the basket.  You didn’t say it, I did.”

Me: “Oh, yeah maybe you did. But to them, anything that passes from our lips should be treated as the word of God and it shouldn’t matter who really says it.”

In other news, my wife and I made a pretty good meal on Sunday.  We made Slow Cooker Pork Cacciatore from AllRecipes.Com served over whole wheat spaghetti.

My rating:

  • Taste: 4 – very hearty, flavorful meal, probably better suited for a chilly fall or winter day.
  • Prep Time: 2 – the recipe says 15 minutes, but it took me about 30-45 (this may be due to the fact that I had a golden retriever follow me with every step I took around the kitchen), and it takes at least 8 hours to cook in the slow cooker, so it not something that you can just whip together.
  • Health: 3 – moderate calories, fat and cholesterol
  • Cost: 4 – The pork and the mozzarella cheese were the only things I had to purchase that I didn’t already have in the kitchen.  The recipe calls for 28 ounces of diced tomatoes, I only used 14.  I also used two peppers instead of one.
  • Kid Friendliness: 2 – yup, too many weird looking things floating around in the sauce.  Tried bribing them with s’mores, no reaction.  They ate some of it, very reluctantly.  They typically eat the pasta at least, but the whole wheat spaghetti did not look right to them.  If we dare make it again, it would be wise to have a back-up plan.
  • Overall: 3