Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#262 In which our hero somewhat reluctantly participates in a questionable company-mandated charity contest.

My agency is big on charity work. Not pro bono advertising work (which is a little odd) but general fund-raising and collections. We typically “adopt” several underprivileged families around Christmas and provide gifts, coats and assorted stuff, for example.

Recently, we had a food drive. The deal was that the charity organization would provide us with ten 55-gallon plastic barrels, and we were to fill them up with canned goods, paper products and other non-perishables. Which is all and good.

But, then an email went out explaining how we were going to turn this food drive into a FUN! activity for the entire agency! We were going to decorate the barrels! You would randomly be assigned to a team, and your team would get together to brainstorm how to decorate the shit out of your barrel! Oh, what fun would be had!

This reeks of mandated participation, which doesn’t thrill me. Years ago I worked for The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. The owner’s pet charity was United Way, and he liked to brag that 100% of his employees contributed. This was achieved by strong-arming anyone who didn’t want to participate. And, honestly, it was coercion, plain and simple. At the time I was working in the phone room, and not making a fortune by any stretch of the imagination. So I didn’t really want to give any money to charity, especially when I could better use that money to pay off my credit card debt. But when I didn’t immediately return my United Way form, my boss, then my boss’s boss came down on me. First it was a nice “ah, come on, donate a$1 a week, that’s not so much, is it?” Then it became, “Y’know, John F. [the owner of the paper] takes United Way contributions very seriously. You wouldn’t want to piss off the president, would you?” It was all really obnoxious.

So, I wasn’t excited by this apparently mandatory contest BS. But I went to the initial group meeting because… well, because I want to keep my job. And every little thing I can do to make myself seem like a team player/someone management wants to keep around, I’m going to jump at it.

And, it just so happened that one of the guys on my team is the same jackass who beat me out of the Halloween costume contest two years ago. And, as you may remember, I’m still bitter about that.

And this guy came to the meeting prepared. He had sketches of what he thought we should do to decorate the barrel. Which was to but a gigantic nutcracker head on to of it, with a working mouth to accept the canned goods. Now, I’ll admit this is an intriguing idea, but how the hell do you make that work? Was this guy going to craft a giant nutcracker head out of paper mache? When someone asked him how to do it, his answer was, “I dunno, we could carve it out of foam or something.”

Now, my original plan was to go to the meeting but not really help that much. I was busy with my real job, after all. But, I would be goddamned if I’d like this guy get his way. I had what I thought was a pretty damn clever idea, and I told the group about it. And, more importantly, it was 100% executable. I sketched it out on a piece of paper and passed it around.

After some debate (some dumbasses still wanted to make this unmakable nutcracker head) it was deceived to do my idea: Santa’s reindeer.

My idea was simple: do something that no other group would think of (it was a competition, after all): turn the barrel on its side, make sawhorse legs, and make a head with antlers. It came together easily in my head.

Then I made a mock-up, using foamcore and a Mountain Dew can as a proxy for the barrel. It looked great. So I told everyone I’d cut the real deal out over the weekend and bring it in on Monday.

That weekend it took me about four hours to cut the parts out of plywood. It went amazingly easily, especially considering that I’m not at all handy. Another 15 minutes of brown spray paint, and it was done.

I brought it in and started to assemble it. I told the rest of my group that all they needed to do was find a blanket or piece of cloth or something to cover the barrel, and a red nose. One $5 blanket from Walmart and a foam nose later, and it was done.


I was really pleased with how well it all came together. Most of the other barrels were more traditional in design (there were a lot of chimneys with Santa coming down, an angel, Oscar the Grouch in his trashcan, things like that. None of the other entries put the barrel on its side.

I thought that gave us a good chance of winning but, honestly, what I really thought would put us over the top was the butt:

I made a plug for the open part of the barrel, with a trap door. The idea is you had to lift the deer’s tail to stick the canned goods in it. That’s right, you had to stuff the food up the deer’s butt.

Given the mental age of a large portion of the agency, I thought this was the perfect gimmick to give our entry the edge. And it was certainly more fun that some half-assed nutcracker head.

I should have known better.

The votes were tallied, and my reindeer lost. By two votes. TWO! I can’t win a damn thing at this agency.

However, the entry we lost to was very cool. It was a Starbucks’ holiday cup, complete with hot chocolate and whipped cream. It was beautiful. Not as innovative as my entry, but very cool. If I had to lose, I’m okay with losing to that entry.

Okay… but still bitter.





The Scientist was in an accident last week.

Nothing serious; she was stopped at a red light at the guy behind her slid on the ice and rear-ended her. He was only going five miles per hour or so, and other than a smashed-in bumper there was no damage to her car.

She was on the phone with me when it happened. Ironically, she was saying, “Be careful on the drive home. It’s snowing and EEEEK! I just got hit!” She called the cops and they waited around for the police report. Apparently Mr. Sorry-I-Just-Smashed-You-Bumper was in a hurry to leave, and said that since they had exchanged information there was no reason for him to stay. My wife, who is wise, begged to disagree, and made him stick around.

Being that he wasn’t driving his own car and he had bare-bones GEICO insurance, we’re happy that we have a police report.

After the initial “Holy shit! I just paid this car off!” it’s all seemed to turn out okay. His insurance company is paying to have The Scientist’s truck repaired. They’re paying for the rental car she’ll be driving while that happens. And they’re paying the cost for her chiropractor visits.

About that. She felt fine the day of the accident, but her neck started to hurt the day after. She was able to get in to see her guy right away. He took x-rays and told her she has minor whiplash. He’ll see her twice a week for about a month; after which he thinks she’ll be fine.

In discussing the accident, most people ask, “Are you going to sue?” This isn’t something that we had really considered. But, it seems, everyone else has. Including the two lawyers who sent nice letters to my wife the day after the accident. Helpful sorts. Even The Scientist’s doctor said he has connections with a lawyer who could help her if she wanted to sue. “You could probably get a couple thousand dollars for pain and suffering.”

Now, we could certainly use a couple thousand dollars. And my wife is in pain. Not a huge, debilitating amount of pain, but her neck hurts her. But we’re not going to sue.

It just feels like an underhanded thing to do. I mean, the insurance agency should pay for damages, including doctor visits--and they are. That’s what you have insurance for. And if this guy who hit her didn’t have insurance, then maybe we would sue him directly to recoup these costs. But for “pain and suffering”?

I’ve heard that litigation is the new lottery. In other words, more people think they have a chance of making some big money by suing than by playing the Pick5. And that just seems shitty. I mean, if you’re really hurt and can’t work, that’s one thing. But a fender-bender and sore neck? Not the same thing.

I bet the insurance company wouldn’t blink at a $2K settlement. The lawyer would get $700 or so, and we’d pocket enough to put a big dent in our credit card bills.

But we just don’t want to feed into that system.

I don’t want to come across as holier-than-thou, but we’re all grown-ups, right? The guy had insurance. He wasn’t driving recklessly. It’s early in winter, so I can even forgive him for not recognizing an icy patch. My wife will recover. To abuse the system by suing--even when most other people might do it--isn’t something we’d do. I suppose it’s not a dishonest thing to do, but it certainly doesn’t feel honest.

Maybe you think we’re dumb for not cashing in on an easy paycheck. And maybe we are. But if we sued this guy, it just wouldn’t feel right.

Then again, two grand could go a long way toward easing that sting.


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I suppose no-one is really 100% prepared to be a parent before they actually are. But I'm still surprised by some of the things I've had to do in this job. For example:

There was a recent shigellosis outbreak at the daycare. Now, I don't know if "outbreak" is really the right word, but apparently a kid or two came down with this thing, so the daycare decided to aggressively tackle it. I guess it is a serious illness, in that it causes severe diarrhea. This is mostly an issue for toddlers, and our kids never got sick at all, but we still had them tested.

Oh yes, the test.

The daycare sent the girls home with two plastic vials and instructions on how to fill them up. It was rather ingenious, if disgusting. The plastic cap had an attached spoon with a serrated edge. The deal was that you took some of your kids poop, scooped it into the vial with the spoon, sealed it up (tightly!) and shook it so whatever chemical was in the vial would mix with the poop. Then the health department comes to the school to collect these poop vials and have them tested. I suppose the one consolation is that I don't have the job of opening a couple dozen vials of poop in a lab somewhere.

Anyway, we told the kids we needed to collect their poop, and to do this they needed to poop into a bag. They were, of course, delighted by the prospect. So every time they felt the urge, one or both of them would start shouting, "Daddy! I have to poop! Get a bag! Get a bag!"

What followed was a farce of me trying to strategically position a plastic shopping bag under a tiny butt without dipping it into the toilet water. Of course, there were several false alarms and I ended up holding a bag full of farts.

Finally, Macey crapped into a bag, then I scooped the poop into the vial. This same kid just puked on me recently, so I've had the full spectrum of bodily fluids.

I should mention that The Scientist manged to miss the poop-scooping duties for BOTH kids. She claims it was innocent, but I think otherwise.




#261 In which our hero pushes his luck a little too far.

Had a gout attack on Wednesday night.

I haven’t had one in a while, but this one is a dozy. My big toe on my right foot is kinda messed up, I have a bunion or something going on there. Every doctor I’ve ever been to about this thing asks if I broke my toe at some point. I’m starting to think that maybe I did, and just never realized it. Like I got a hairline fracture that I mistook for a bad bashing, or something like that.

So when I half woke up at 4am, I tried to convince myself that the pain in my toe was just me sleeping on it weird. But, after 10 minutes of denial, I finally got out of bed and hobbled over to the bathroom to take my pills.

I take two kinds of medication for gout flare-ups: Indomethacin (an anti-inflammatory) and Colchicine (for pain and to reduce swelling). The Colchincine is specifically to elevate the symptoms of gout and seems to work pretty well. The drawback is that it messes up my guts to a huge degree. In fact, on the side of the bottle the instructions are, and I quote: “Take 1 tablet by mouth every two hours until loose stool.” In other words, when you start to crap your brains out, stop.

I’ve been taking these drugs for a couple years now and the pooping, which crampy and sucky, is generally a sign that the worse is over.

So I start taking my drugs every two hours, like instructed. I keep this up all day long, and the horrible bathroom dash doesn’t happen. But I know it’s coming.

The Scientist and I pick up the kids that evening and decide to go out for dinner. In the back of my head I’m thinking that this might not be the best idea. But I haven’t even had gas all day, and my fucking toe still hurt so I figure I deserved to treat myself.

My guts felt a little questionable going in, but I was hoping that it was just hunger pains. And by the end of the meal, that seemed to be the case. I had a nice steak, mashed potatoes and veggies, and felt pretty good. My toe still hurt, of course, but my belly was happy.

I was feeling so good, that I ordered a cup of coffee when The Scientist and the girls had ice cream for dessert. I even had three or four spoonfuls of Macey’s sundae when she couldn’t finish it.

As it turned out, those were two very poor decisions.

I had thought that the coffee would speed things along and, frankly, I was tired of waiting for the explosion, so I thought I’d give it a little push. As we were leaving the restaurant I felt a slight percolating in my guts, but nothing to worry about.

The Scientist took Macey in her car, and I took Lily in mine. It’s only about a 15-20 minute drive from the Applebee’s down the street; but five minutes in I realized I was in a race with the devil.

The “slight percolating” turned into something much more dire. I started to sweat. I loosened my belt. I squeaked out a little gas, before I became too afraid to roll those dice.

And the entire trip Lily wanted to chat with me. “Daddy, guess what? Guess what?” “What, honey?” I moaned. “That house had snow on the roof! Why’s there snow on the roof? But not the street? How’d you get the snow off the street? What’s that thing? What’s that thing over there?”

I’m staring straight ahead and clenching for all I’m worth, and just trying to keep a pleasant, even tone with my five-year-old. I want to say, “Holy shit, can you pipe down for 10 minutes? If I lose my concentration here neither of us is going to be happy!”

I drive at an unadvisable pace down the side streets to my neighborhood, and pull into the garage just as The Scientist is getting out of her car. “You’re going to have to get Lily out of the car! I have trouble coming!” I shout as I fumble for my door keys.

Luckily, I manage to sprint up to the bathroom in time. The results are horrible, and I’ll not burden you with any description. I had to return twice more, but by bedtime I was clean as a whistle.

And this morning? My damn toe hurts just as bad. I’ve started the drugs again. Let the race begin.




#260 In which our hero finds his inkblot-related enthusiasm dimming

The new Watchmen trailer is out. 

You may recall that I was nearly beside myself with excitement after viewing the first one. This new one? Not so much. 

There will probably be spoilers after the video if you've not read the book or heard anything about the movie. So, y'know, heads up.

Maybe I find myself disappointed because I loved the first trailer oh-so much. And actually, there's little new content here. But what is new really brings to light some of the rumors I've heard about the movie... changes that I'm not really hip on.

0:10 Starting here we get a couple seconds of material that's only hinted at in the book. While inventing new material might seem like high treason to hard-core fans, I think this is actually well done. 

0:16 "Just a matter of time, I suppose." Cool line!

0:30 I'm not really digging the music, either. That might have something to do with my dislike of the trailer.

0:33 I saw some online criticism of Rorschach calling the group "Watchmen" when the real name (in the book) was "The Crime-Busters." To which I say, "Dude, seriously? You're upset about that?

1:00 And at one minute in comes my two biggest beefs:

1:01 This appears to be a nuclear explosion in New York. I've read that the ending has been changed considerably... and, y'know, as much as I don't like it, I understand it. I mean, if you walk into that theater and sit there for two hours and fifteen minutes only to see a giant space squid teleport into NY, you're going to be like, "What the fuck?!" From what I've read the space creature has been replaced with a more conventional explosion. 

Which causes ALL sorts of problems. 

In the book the only reason that Ozymandias' scheme worked is because the threat was so large, so un-understandable that the world had no choice but to lay down their arms and rally together to face it. But if it's just a bomb... how's that going to unite the world? 

Now, I'm still holding out hope because the explosion in the trailer doesn't look like your typical mushroom cloud. I'm hoping it's a crazy extra-dimensional rift or some BS like that so the flavor of the ending is still there, sans giant space squid. 

But... how's that going to work with the rest of the movie? Remember that The Comedian saw the secret island where this thing was being created, which set into motion everything that follows: his visit to Moloch (a character we saw in the first trailer), his death (which we just saw 30 seconds ago), the investigation by Rorschach... basically, everything in the movie hinges on this discovery. So, if it's just a bomb... why would The Comedian react the way he does? How could he grasp the enormity of Ozymandias' plan? 

I'm not opposed to this change, again, I understand why, but I just wonder how they're going to maintain the carefully crafted structure of the narrative without the squid. Anyway, back to the trailer:

1:03 Oddly enough, I'm more bothered by this part than the change in the ending. If you listen to Rorschach here, he sounds way out of character to me. "... so we can't do anything to stop it." We? He's not exactly a team player by this point in the story. And worse yet:

1:10 "An attack on one, is an attack on all of us." What? Now, Rorschach cares about people (especially Nite Owl) in his own fucked-up way, but for him to articulate this solidarity like this just doesn't seem right to me at all. And finally, worst of all:
1:18 "Retribution." No way. Rorschach is logical and coldly calculating... he's not out looking for retribution or revenge for the death of his former teammates. This characterization is completely wrong, in my opinion. 

Now, I'm hoping that this is just marketing. That the editors have stitched together bits and pieces of dialog to sell the story to those who aren't familiar with the source material (because, admit it, if you've read the book you ARE going to see the movie. I don't care how shitty the trailers get or the reviews are, I'm going to be right there in line opening night--so they don't need to market to me). If you're trying to explain these characters in two minutes, it's easy to paint Rorschach as the psychopath looking for revenge. That's easy to grasp. 

1:23 Huh? Is Ozymandias English now?

1:36 Dr. Manhattan speaks! I appreciate the director not giving him a crazy echo-y, over-processed voice. Because you know the temptation was there.

1:49 The owl ship crash landed in the Antarctic. Will we get to see hoverbikes? Let's hope so (but don't hold your breath).

1:51 The capture of Rorschach. Frankly, if they get this scene right, that'll go a long way toward making me like the movie. If the actor can nail his screaming "Give me my face back!" it will be worth the price of admission for that alone.

2:13 Hmm, nuclear dream sequence. Does that mean we'll get to see Silk Spectre's boobs? 

2:29 Release date is still set for 3/06/2009. Let's hope this means that the legal wrangling over studio rights has been settled. I'll be super pissed if this thing is delayed.

So there you have it. I'm still hopeful for the movie version that I have in my head, but lots of little things give me pause. 





Speaking of Halloween; you might wonder if I dressed up for my work's annual Halloween party. You might wonder this because you remember that my costume last year was fucking AWESOME (if I do say so myself).

Now, the prize for best costume last year was a pair of round-trip tickets to anywhere in the continental United States. Not a bad prize. I wanted to win them, bad.

I did not.

Instead, this jackass won by dressing up like a woman. Ugh. I was rather put out by the entire thing. I debated if I wanted to make an effort to dress up this year or not; I was still pissed about losing to the tranny (Still, after an entire year? Oh yes.) but I enjoy making and wearing costumes, and if there was a good prize I figured I'd go for it. But, then the prizes were announced and the grand prize for the costume contest (a $50 gift certificate) was less than inspiring.

But, since I'm a good sport, I dressed up anyway:

Yep, I was "Bitter." My costume was a big hit. There were a surprisingly large number people who still remember last year's costume and think I was robbed.

Which I was. Yep, still bitter.


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#259 In which our hero discusses fairies, hard-boiled eggs, big-eyed anime girls and Benito Mussolini.

I love Halloween.

I like dressing up, I like eating candy, and I like seeing all the little spankers in costume. And, since I’ve become a father, I absolutely love dressing up our kids. Last year Lily went as a chicken (her choice, don’t ask me) and Macey went as an egg. It was very cute.

This year, Lily decided she wanted to be a fairy and Macey decided she wanted to be a deviled egg. This was her stated choice… I have no idea where it came from or, more importantly, my youngest would choose such an odd food choice.

So we went to the Halloween store to get Lily a fairy costume. We were looking at the standard: gauzy shirt, butterfly wings and a magic wand. Why do fairies carry magic wands? Aren’t they inherently magic? Anyway, once we started looking around, Lily fell in love with another costume on the rank: Stephanie from Lazy Town. Unless you have kids around the age of four, you’ve probably never heard of Lazy Town. It’s a odd show that stars Magnús Scheving, an Icelandic gymnastics champion as the back-flipping Sportacus, who patrols Lazy Town high above in his tricked out blimp (oh yeah, you read that right).

The show features a mixture of live action actors and dough-faced puppets fighting arch-villain and incompetent Robbie Rotten. It’s truly odd (and strangely watchable). His young sidekick is the pink-haired Stephanie.

So we ended up paying $30 for a pink stripped polyester dress and a pink wing. But, I have to say, she looked good. We also picked up a pair of devil horns for Macey (“deviled” egg, get it?) to go with the rest of the costume we recycled from last year.

And since the girls get to dress up, it’s only fair that The Scientist and I get to have fun, too. We were invited to a Halloween party and were excited about getting a sitter and both of us getting to go for a change.

This particular friend of ours throws a party every year with a theme. Last year it was “Steampunk,” and I had fun dressing up for that (my wife couldn’t go for some reason). This year the theme was “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” or “Bad Cosplay.” Hilarious.

The Scientist dug out her old prom dress (which looks more like a wedding dress) and I made her a giant foam sword. The result was both bad cosplay and a new force of good to fight bland food and ne’er-do-wells: Wasabi Bride!

Her eyes were awesome.

She basically closed her eyelids and painted giant anime eyes overtop them. Fantastic effect that really freaked out people at the party.

I managed to find an amazing deal that day on an old military jacket that fit me remarkable well. I went as Mussolini:

The medals I’m wearing? The bars are from high school band, the medal is my 3rd place Voice of Democracy award, and there’s a couple anniversary pins from when I worked at Max & Erma’s.

The party was a blast. And so was trick or treating.


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On the way to work this morning I heard a commercial for a website called “Ashley Madison.” It’s a hook-up site for married people. I’m no prude, and I guess I’m not surprised that such a thing exists, but I was floored to hear it on the radio.

Dating sites are one thing, but one that caters to people wanting to have an affair? That’s more than a little creepy.

So, naturally, I had to check out the site.

First thing that hit me was the tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair.” I’m like no shit? This is appealing to people? Clearly, I’m not the target audience.

The whole thing bugs me. Oddly enough, I’d be considerably less offended if a married man went on a traditional dating service or Craig’s list or something similar and pretended to be single.

And it’s not like I’ve never cheated on a girlfriend before, ‘cuz I have. And it’s not like I’m not open to personal ads, even though I’ve never done anything like that. Well, I take that back: there was a brief, dark period in my life where I dabbled in AOL personals (ugh, I know) and even got a few responses… but I never followed up and certainly never went out on any dates. I was single at the time, for what it’s worth.

Anyway, I dug around a little on the site; mostly to see if anywhere it mentioned that having an affair is most likely illegal in your state and we’re not liable if you get caught and lose half your stuff. The TERMS OF USE did include this:
In your use of our Service, you agree to act responsibly in a manner demonstrating the exercise of good judgment. For example and without limitation, you agree not to: (a) violate any applicable law or regulation…

Let me stop you there, because hey? Having an affair isn’t generally thought of as exercising good judgment. Also, isn’t adultery illegal? That would be violating an “applicable law,” right?

But, eh, what do I know? Maybe having an affair is the best thing that could happen to some couples.

I also enjoyed this portion of their FAQ (answering “I'm planning on meeting someone. What should I remember?”)
Try and tell at least two people where you're going to be, the name of the person you're meeting, what they look like and when you expect to be home. You can provide this information without revealing the purpose of your meeting.

Hey, Bob? I’m going to be meeting a blond-haired woman, 5’3”, at the Starbucks on the corner of Green and Cedar this Saturday at 7:30pm. What? Oh, no reason, just wanted to let you know. In case I, y’know, go missing or something.

There’s even a money back guarantee if you don’t hook up! Apparently you may not be able to guarantee the stability of your marriage, but you CAN guarantee your chances of having an affair.


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#258 In which our hero talks about bad times when dropping off the kids at school.

Being that The Scientist and I both work, Lily and Macey go to day care. It’s a good day care, with a good mix of kids, and our children seem to enjoy it and actually learn something while they’re there.

However, in the past couple of weeks, Lily has developed a real problem with drop off. As in, she cries and carries on, doesn’t want us to leave, and generally makes everyone miserable. This is heartbreaking for my wife, and a pain in the ass for me (oh, I feel bad, too) and we really didn’t understand the change. When asked, Lily claims that some of her schoolmates tease her or hit her… some of these tales are probably true to one degree or another, but nothing that would elicite this reaction.

We talked with the day care owner, who’s been watching our kids since, well, since before we had kids, and she thought that Lily was just playing to our sympathies, and hoping to get us to stick around for another 15 minutes or so. Which usually worked. So we worked out a plan.

We told Lily that she’d get ONE hug and ONE kiss from each of us, and then that would be it. She had to march into class without crying or having a fit. She was none too sure of this, and asked if she could practice. Um, sure? we thought. So, we pretended the living room was school, and we walked Lily (and Macey, who had to be in the thick of things, even though she wasn’t having any difficultly is seeing us off) into class, gave her her one hug and one kiss, and left.

As extra insurance, I wrote Lily a note on the back of an old business card. I told her that she could keep it in her pocket, and if she got sad during the day she could pull it out and look at it.

“Can you read it?” I asked.
“Yes!” Lily replied. “’Daddy plus Mommy loves Lily.’”
“That’s right, sweetie,” The Scientist said. “We do.”

And naturally, Macey had to have a note, too. But she insisted that both she and Lily appear on her note.

And the next day we dropped off, gave her the one hug and one kiss, reminded her to look at her note if she needed to, and that was that. No crying, no fuss, no bother.

I’m constantly amazed at how a little planning and preparation can make such a difference with these kids.





This morning a blog topic popped, unbidden, into my head. It was perfect: something I could write a reasonable length post about, didn't require me to edit photos to make it interesting, and would be easy to write. It was so perfect and obvious, that I felt no need to write it down on the spot, being that I'd easily remember it for later when I had time to write.

Then I forgot it.

On my drive home, I remembered what it was but, being in the middle of traffic, had no means of recording it. Since this was the second time it came into my head, I was sure I'd remember it this time.


I've been racking my brains for the last hour an hour, trying to remember just what the hell it was. No luck. At one point it did come to me, complete and perfect, and I thought Yes! That's it! Then, something on TV caught my attention and it was gone, just like that. Crazy how the brain works (or maybe, just how my brain works).

So, instead of the thoughtful, funny and moving post that should be here, you get this. Blame my brain.


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Lily calling me from the bathroom:
LILY: Daddy! Daddy!
ME: What is it?
LILY: Come here!
ME: (walking over to the bathroom) What's wrong, honey?
LILY: Daddy! You gotta smell this!

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that Lily is potty trained. But I don't feel the need to experience the pooping with her, y'know?

PS: Blah, forgot to post yesterday. So much for NaBloPoMo.


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Still working on that novel. Well, not even the novel, now I’m trying to write the necessary BS that comes with trying to sell a novel. Namely, the cover letter and synopsis.

This is critical. A good cover letter and synopsis are just as important as a good book, if you goal is to get published. The reason being that no matter how awesome your novel is, if your cover letter is shitty the agent/publisher is going to chuck it into the trash, unread. And the reason for that is that there’s a lot of wannabe writers (myself included) and all of them are sending submissions.

So you have to grab their attention right away, get them interested enough so they actually read the sample pages you’ve sent. And I think I’ve finally written a pretty decent cover letter.

But the synopsis has been kicking my ass.

It’s no easy task… my book is 74,000 words long. I need to express the entire plot in two double-spaced pages… about 600 words. And it needs to be exciting and engaging. When I first sat down to do it, I thought “Good Lord, how can I ever do that in two pages?”

But I did finally manage to bang out a synopsis, even if it was twice as long as it should be. Re-reading it just now, I see that it’s terrible… a lot of and then this happened, and then this happened, etc. It seemed insurmountable.

But then I came to my senses.

“What the fuck?” I thought to myself. “You do this shit EVERY FUCKING DAY!” And it’s true. As an advertising writer, I am forever being told to condense a three-page specifications sheet into a two line benefit statement. Or expresses the entire concept of a three-month multi-platform advertising campaign into a quick sound bite. I do this all the time, and I’m good at it. So what’s my problem now?

Truth is, it shouldn’t be a problem. And it’s not going to. I am going to bang this damn thing out, tonight if I can. That is, if I can stop blogging for a minute and get to work.


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#257 In which our hero desperately attempts to forget the goings-on of the past 24 hours.

Bad day, yesterday.

It started late Tuesday night. While The Scientist and I were still high from watching Obama’s resounding victory in the presidential election (aside to Ohio: thanks for not fucking this up) our three-year-old, Macey came into the bedroom. Earlier she told me that “I drank too much water” and I sat her on the potty, where she successfully peed. But now she was back for more. Which is her way… she seems to like to pee, then wait a half hour or so, then come back to poop. Which is fine; as long as everything is going in the potty and not her pants, I don’t care.

So I take her back into the bathroom and sit her on the potty. She sits there for a moment, then pukes, big-time. It hits the wall, it covers the floor; a significant amount covers my hands and arms. I’m a little slow in whipping her around to face the toilet, but much of the second round ends up in the bowl. And it’s a lot. Poor kid ate a big dinner, and here it was all coming back.

I strip her down and The Scientist takes her into the shower with her to clean her up. Now, this is amazing… that my wife is able to function in this situation. See, she has a puke phobia. She doesn’t like to see it, hear it or smell it. Watching it on TV is okay, I guess, but in person is right out. She’s warned me about this endlessly in the nearly 10 years we’ve been together, but it’s never really been an issue (baby spit-up didn’t seem to fall into the no-puke category). I knew she didn’t like it (who does?) but I wasn’t really clear on the extent to which she’s not okay with it--and wouldn’t be until the next morning.

Anyway, so The Scientist can take our kid into the shower--crossing over the puke zone--without incident, so I figured everything was okay. I mean, Macey wasn’t okay, clearly, but it was probably just a stomach bug and now that she threw up we were hoping the worst of it was over.

I cleaned up the puke in the bathroom, we got Macey all changed into clean jammies, and all seemed well. And all WAS well, until the next morning.

I got Macey out of bed, and she made some comment that she felt sick, and then she was. But I was ready with a basin, and her barf was completely contained. The Scientist came in and got clean clothes for her and we started the morning getting-ready-for-school routine. Then, the smell hit her or she saw it or something, but she sat down on the floor and said, “Craig! I’m not doing okay!”

I came back into the room and she was laying down saying, over and over, “I’m not doing okay! I’m not doing okay!” And I’m a little pissed because this is her stupid puke phobia, and there’s no real reason to be freaked out about puke, and little kids puke all the fucking time, so it’s dumb and you should really just get over it. But, I’m not a complete asshole, so I say, “What’s going on?”

And my wife doesn’t answer. So I repeat myself. “Hey! What’s going on?” She’s flat on her back, her arms in an awkward position, and she’s not saying anything. A little alarmed, I crouch down and give her a little shake. And she is as stiff as a board.

This is when I realize my wife is having a seizure.

Now, this should have been scary as hell but, honestly, The Scientist has spent much of the previous decade preparing me for this very moment.

Here’s the deal: when my wife was much younger, she went through a phase where she woke up unexpectedly, felt ill, had a seizure, passed out, woke up, and vomited. This pretty much scared the hell out of me when she first told me about it. Mostly, because for the first five years or so of our marriage she would wake up feeling a little sick, then wake me up so I could be there “in case I have another seizure.”

And I was all Joe Concerned at first… then it because apparent that she hadn’t really had a seizure in 10 years… then in 15 years… then in 20 years. And at this point I said, “Y’know, I don’t think you’re going to have another seizure any time soon. Can you please let me sleep through the night?” It’s possible I was a bit of a dick about this.

So when she went all stiff, I though “Well I’ll be goddamned, she really is having a seizure.” It lasted maybe 10 seconds or so, then her eyes rolled back in her head and she went limp. I grabbed another basin and waited for her to wake up. She recovered in about 20 seconds or so, confused. Then, true to form, she rolled over and started to heave.

The good news is that she didn’t have anything in her stomach, so she didn’t have anything to puke. The bad news is that the dry heaves suck for anyone, just recovering from a seizure or not.

So, she's heaving, and it occurs to me that I’ve never actually heard my wife puke. Well, she did puke after the horrible tattoo incident (I’ve written about that, right? I can’t seem to find anything about it in my archives) but that was fairly quick. Anyway, she heaving into the basin, and come to find out that she makes this funny noise when she’s puking. Kinda like “Uggghhh--hehk!” There's this odd little coda to her heave--and it strikes me as really funny. And I know I can’t laugh at her in this situation, so I try to stifle it. But my laugh pops out as a strangled little snort, which my wife misinterprets as me gagging.

So I just let her collapse on the floor, brought in a pillow and covered her up. She certainly wasn’t doing well, but she seemed stable.

Macey, on the other hand, was FULL of energy. Apparently the puking got out the last of whatever was bothering her, and she wanted to play, play, play! Naturally, I had to call The Scientist’s work and tell them she wasn’t going in (said she was sick, didn’t feel the need to add the seizure part) and I had to call my work and tell them I wasn’t coming in. Then I called the daycare and told them neither of the girls was coming in. Lily seemed fine, but we kept her home just to be safe.

And honestly, both girls were fine all day. They were actually overjoyed to get to stay at home and play with daddy. My wife was finally able to crawl into bed after a couple of hours. I set up the baby monitor next to the bed, and spent the next several hours running up and down the stairs to check on her, then to make sure the girls weren’t fighting. Plus I washed all the puke-covered stuff from Macey’s first round of vomiting.

The worst part of the seizure BS turns out to not be the seizure itself, but the after-effects. The Scientist was sore, but she was also nauseated and dizzy for hours afterward. Neither she nor Macey really ate anything all day. Well, Macey ate a couple freeze-pops, and The Scientist had a Slurpee.

All in all, it was inconvenient, but not horrible. The big fear, of course, is what if I’m out of town and one of the girls gets sick? That’s going to be a big problem. I think my wife would agree.

But that, like the previous 24 hours, is something I don’t want to think about right now.


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I am thrilled that Obama won the election. While I hoped, I secretly doubted it could really happen. I certainly didn’t expect Ohio to go Democrat… my fellow Ohioans have well and thoroughly dashed my hopes on Ohio being regarded as anything but a hick backwater in the past (constitutional ban on gay marriage anyone?).

But this time, this most important time, the state got it right. The country got it right. It’s hard not to get all sappy about the “future of America,” but I like to believe that yesterday’s election really was us coming together as a nation and saying, “Okay, this is bullshit. We’ve endured enough. We’ve voted for--and received--the president we deserve for nearly a decade now, but we’re willing to elevate ourselves this one time and take a chance on something new. Look past the safe and known and give this young guy a go.”

Fired up? Ready to go!


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Two things of note happened today: I voted in what may be the most important presidential election of my generation; and my cat puked on me. Knowing you, my audience, as well as I do, I’ll relate that incident that is more interesting to you.

It was 12:30am. I was sleeping, and the cat was sleeping on my head, as usual. Now, when I say “sleeping on my head,” he wasn’t really on top of my head. Rather, he likes to sleep at the top of my pillow, close to the wall. This benefits both of us. He keeps the bald spot on the top of my head warm and, presumably, the heat radiating from my skull keeps him warm. So, y’know, win-win.

Now, we have a couple of rules, this cat and I. He get two trips around… he likes to jump up on the foot of the bed, walk completely around my perimeter, then settle down on the pillow. He does this twice, then we’re okay. But if he goes for three, he gets chucked off my bed, because that’s annoying.

Sometimes, he licks my face in the middle of the night. He gets the brush off once, then if he comes back for me he gets tossed. Nothing is more alarming that getting an unexpected and uninvited lick.

Note to self: holy crap, you sound like crazy cat guy.

Anyway, the cat (“Ash,” if you’re wondering) obeyed all the rules and was sleeping and purring peacefully, as was I (sleeping at least, I don’t purr in my sleep that I know of). And he’s the kicker: if he had started to choke up a hairball, I would have woken up and got him away from the bed. But no, there was no warning noise, just a sudden BLARGH! and my neck and shoulder is covered in cat puke.

I jump up, of course. “Goddammit!” The Scientist jolts up, saying “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”

I strip off my shirt and toss it in the hamper. Next is the pillow case, and the one blanket he managed to tag. The puke itself was mostly water, but holy lord did it stink. Enough that I took the foul load straight to the washer downstairs and started a load.

The rest of the night was uneventful, and I woke up with the perpetrator purring contentedly on my pillow, like nothing ever happened.


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#256 In which our hero discusses parenting methods, typically favoring the more hard-assed ones.

I’m not positive about this, but The Scientist and I might be, when it comes to parenting, what you could call “mean.” We’ve been called that by other adults (in jest--I think) and, much more often, by our children. We don’t think we’re mean, of course (mostly) but we would rather reckon ourselves “consistent.” As in, if we say something, that’s the way it’s going to be, and no amount of begging or screaming is going to change that.

Early on in the “let’s have some babies!” discussions, we both agreed that we needed to play it straight with our kids. No promising one thing, then doing something else. Or, more importantly, no promising to take away something, only to cave then they start to cry.

Our hope is that it will lead to better adjusted kids. Ones that are willing to give up the fight because they know that mommy and daddy aren’t going to go back on what they said. Theoretically (because this is very much an experiment in progress) it will lead to less screaming and fewer fights. But as of last night, the experiment hasn’t bourn fruit.

Here’s the deal.

Yesterday was Lily’s birthday (and I’ll write about that it all it’s glory later). It was a pretty low-key day, being that we hadn’t planned a big party, and The Scientist had to work, anyway. During the day I went to the grocery store with the girls.

A little aside. These grocery store trips used to be… not bad, or challenging, exactly, but just not a lot of fun. The girls would be bored halfway through, and Macey would want to get out of the cart, or get back in, or Lily would want to look at the candy, then pout when she didn’t get any, etc., etc. However! Now that both girls are potty trained (as I type this I must remember that both girls crapped their panties once in the past three days, so, maybe 99% potty trained) they can go into the most wonderful thing ever created in the history of grocery stores: the play room.

The Scientist and I were both a little iffy about the concept, in the beginning. It’s just a room where you can dump your kids while you shop. There’s a store employee there, and plenty of games and crafts and what-not. But we’re not dump-and-run sort of parents, so I, at least, wasn’t 100% sure of the concept. But, Lily got wind of all the new toys, and started asking to go in, and I finally relented one day.

Now, it’s awesome. The girls demand to go shopping with me, and they are, of course, perfectly fine in there for the 30 minutes or so it takes me to find everything on the list.

So, it’s Lily’s birthday and I drop the girls off at the playroom while I shop. I go to pick them up afterward, and the friendly attendant asks if they can both have a snack. So sure; both girls get a bag of chips and a juice box. So far, so good.

Then, it comes up that it’s Lily’s birthday, so again the friendly attendant says she can choose from the Birthday Box. Now, ever so faintly, a warning bell starting ringing in the back of my skull. But I ignored it.

A big plastic treasure chest is produced and opened, and Lily looks at the toys within. She chooses a stuffed frog. Macey tentatively reaches into the box. Of course, I say “No, Macey. Lily only gets a toy because it’s her birthday. Maybe we can come back on your birthday and you can get something from the Birthday Box.” Macey is disappointed, but simply says, “Okaaaay” in the cute fashion she does.

So. No big fight. No big meltdown.

I am patting myself on the back for being such an awesome parent, and secretly congratulating my kids for being so mature in front of the grocery store employee. As we’re putting on coats, Macey makes noise about wanting to hold Lily’s frog. Lily, who really is the sweetest kid on Earth, says they can play babysitter, and the frog can be her baby and Macey can be the babysitter. And she lets Macey hold the frog the whole way home.

Things started to go south pretty quickly from there.

Back at the house, Macey wanted to hold the frog even longer, and Lily started to get whiny that it was her frog, etc. And she’s right. So I tell Macey that it’s Lily’s birthday toy, and she let her hold it for a little big, but it’s really hers to play with, and hey! Look at all these other stuffed animals!

But Macey wasn’t having it.

As the night wore on, Macey’s demands for frog time intensified, and Lily decided that it was HER frog, and she didn’t want to share it at all. At bedtime, Macey wanted to sleep with the new frog, but naturally, Lily wanted to sleep with her new toy.

So, by 9pm, the house sounded like this:

Frogie! Frooooooogie! New froooooogeeeee! I wanna sleep with new froooooooog-eeeee!!!!

Very pitiful.

These was no comforting her, or diverting her attention (I’m hoping this laser-like focus pays off with great SAT scores) and finally the only thing that calmed her down was allowing her to crawl into bed with her mother.

When I came to bed much later, she was completely sacked out.

Of course, all of this could have been avoided just by saying to the grocery store lady, “hey, y’mind if my youngest grabs something out of the box, too?” I’m sure this $5.15/hr. babysitter wouldn’t have cared.

But I didn’t. For the same reason that we don’t buy Lily gifts on Macey’s birthday, and vice versa. It sets a bad precedent. And we’re trying to keep our eyes on the prize: more level-headed kids in the future.

But, to our children, we’re big meanies.


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As reported by AP:

A suburban Detroit woman decided to scare up the vote by just offering candy to John McCain supporters Friday. Shirley Nagel turned away other children empty-handed. Nagel called Democrat Barack Obama "scary." TV station WJBK says a sign outside Nagel's house warned: "No hand-outs for Obama supporters, liars, tricksters or kids of supporters." Asked about children she turned away crying, she said, "Oh well. Everybody has a choice."

And with that one simple story, the difference between McCain supporters and Obama supporters is made clear.

PS: Ohio, try not to fuck me on Tuesday.





Hey! What do you know, it’s NaBloPoMo again! And what better way of celebrating an entire month of not posting by a month of posting every day?!

And it’s not that there’s been any shortage of things to write about. I could use the excuse that things have been busy at work (and more than a little odd, too… but I probably shouldn’t write too much about that), and finding time to sit down and write is difficult, or that there’s been other things commanding my attention in the past couple months, or that I keep posting updates on Twitter so it’s not like I’ve completely abandoned this blog… but those are all just, well, excuses.

I really want to get into the habit of writing more. I want to, but it’s so easy to just sit down in front of the TV or Internet and let the entertainment (i.e., porn) wash over and not have make any sort of effort. Add to that my normal lazy tendencies, and you have a recipe for looong stretches of no updates.

And remember that book I wrote? I finally went through it one final time and made final edits, and it’s as done as it’s going to be. I think it’s good. The few other people I’ve shared it with think so, too. Now I need to make the effort to get it out to the wider world. Maybe I’ll post an excerpt here.

Anyone, I’m going to take NaBloPoMo as an opportunity to get off my ass and write.

Here goes.


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