Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adventures in Parenting: Milk Run

The other night I was getting in bed, it was a little after midnight, the missus was at work a little more than an hour into her overnight, and the kids were asleep. I had checked on Ava a couple hours before when she started crying, and I knew she was fine, but I wouldn't be able to sleep again until I checked on her. I got up and crept into the kids' room. Of course as soon as I set one foot inside the room she sat up and said "Daddy, more ba-ba." Tired and ready to fall over in exhaustion, I trudged down the stairs to warm up a little more milk so she'd go back to sleep.

I poured out the milk, which left not enough milk for the next morning. So I sent Brandi a text letting her know she'd have to pick up milk in the morning and laid down, figuring she wouldn't get the message until I was on my way to work and leaving her no option but to stop at the store on the way home. Not my best move, I know. Of course, just a couple minutes later, she texts me back that I'll have to get it. She won't have time in the morning because she has to take Logan to school when she gets home.

I throw on some jeans and a t-shirt and run out for milk. Brandi's dad's up, so I let him know that I'm running out, and I go to find some milk. It's 12:30 by now, so Walgreen's is out of the question. The one by us is only open till 10:00. I run over to Jewel, but that's apparently only open to 12:00. Gas station? Nope, that's closed too. I'm trying to figure out where I can go to get milk this late at night, and decide on going to the 24-hour Wal-Mart in the next town over when I pass by a 7-11 that's still open.

When I get there, there's one car in front of the store, one person pumping gas, and another car off to the side. There's a woman in the car in front of the store waiting for one of the guys inside. As I walk in, a tall skinny guy is leaving. I get the milk and approach the counter where a guy with really short hair but a rat tail about half way down his back is trying to decide between a Hustler and some other hard-core porn mag, which I didn't happen to catch the title to. After looking over the covers, he decided to go with the latter. After he paid, the cashier rang up my milk and rolled his eyes at the guy leaving with his porn.

I exited the store and saw the first guy and his girlfriend hunched over something in the car, concentrating intently on something. I figured it was one of two options, drugs or scratch cards, and really it probably wasn't scratch cards.

I returned home with the milk and crawled back into bed, now completely awake and unable to fall asleep.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Breaking Musical Law

On my way into work this morning, as I was switching out CDs for the audiobook I'm listening too, the radio station that came on (94.7) broke musical law. It was a horrible atrocity and I was genuinely surprised, especially by the sequence of songs that was played.

The song that was playing as I switched out audiobooks was none other than Queen's Another One Bites the Dust. Musical law dictates that this must be followed by the We Are the Champions. But that wasn't what happened. Instead, Another One Bites the Dust was followed by The Hustle. WTF? The Hustle? There are only four unique words in that fucking "song." This will not do. Admittedly, I wasn't really in the mood to listen to either Queen song, and in fact I ended up popping in an Eagles of Death Metal CD because the audiobook I'm listening to right now is making me a little stabby. However, it is musical law, and I must rectify it.

Understand that if you listen to one, you must listen to the other.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Eels!

This is where I'll be tomorrow night. Watching these guys.

I haven't seen them since they came to Chicago for the Shootenanny! tour in 2003. Can't wait.

And while we're at it, have another song.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blizzard Survival Depends on Garbage

So the other night, Logan and I were sitting on the couch watching an episode of Shaun the Sheep before he went to bed. My father-in-law was sitting on the recliner next to us. The house was silent except for the antics of the above mentioned claymation quadruped. Without any kind of preamble, my father-in-law says “If I were stuck out in a blizzard and there are garbage cans out like we have here, I’d dump one out and then climb inside. If you pack some snow around it, it’d be like an igloo.”

I remained silent, waiting for more. Sure enough, it came.

“Of course, you’d have to lift the flap a couple times so all the snow doesn’t pile on top of it.”

Again, I paused. When there wasn’t any more forthcoming, I asked why, on a humid, 90+ degree day would he be thinking about getting caught outside in a blizzard.

“Gotta know what you’d do in case of an emergency,” he said. This was followed by “That cools you down, thinking about being stuck in a blizzard,” a minute later.

I may have mentioned here before that we live with my father-in-law and that he is blind. He has been blind for close to three decades now, and consequently, spends a lot of time living in his head. This is not the first off the wall, seemingly spontaneous thing that I’ve heard him say, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I suppose, if I were stuck outside in a blizzard and I couldn’t find any other shelter, I may empty out someone’s garbage can on the street and climb inside. That seems like an effective way to try and keep some warmth contained. The garbage cans we have (pictured above) aren’t roomy, but would provide enough space to squat down in.

It’s not like living in or near garbage cans is unheard of either. There’s at least one high-profile individual I can think of that’s known for residing in a garbage can. Maybe it’s not such a bad idea after all.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

David Bowie: Most Versitile Musician EVAR, or Secret Controller of Pandora

So I'm listening to Pandora on my station that is cleverly named The Kinks Radio, and what comes on? David Bowie. More specifically, it's Space Oddity. And I know if I were to switch it over to Tears for Fears Radio (what?) I would be hearing one Bowie tune or another within a half hour, an hour at the most. It might take a little longer if I were to switch over to George Harrison Radio, but I'm pretty sure I've heard Bowie there too. I haven't listened to the other stations in a while (Flaming Lips Radio, Eels Radio, Blues Traveller Radio, Eagles of Death Metal Radio), but honestly I wouldn't be too surprised if David Bowie popped in on one of those other stations. What does this all mean? The way I see it, it goes one of two ways, either 1) David Bowie is the most versatile musician ever, or 2) David Bowie secretly controls Pandora Internet Radio. I'm not totally decided either way. What I do know is that while I'm not a huge fan, I don't mind Bowie's music, but I don't need to hear it everywhere I go. To me, it's one of those things that's better in small tastes that you have only on occasion so you don't get sick of it. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Bowie, with all his sounds and styles, is the most adaptable and musical act to come around in some time. What do you think?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Adventures in Parenting: What the Hell is with all the Screaming?

For those of you following along at home, we have a four-year-old and a one-year-old. Sometimes they are quiet and play nice. Sometimes.

Most of the time, though, that isn't the case. I'm sure any of you that have more than one child know what I'm talking about here. One could be playing with a toy and the other has nothing to do with it, and then sees the other one playing with that toy and now they've got to have it.

For example, Ava's playing with a train that Logan hasn't looked at all day. He sees and needs his train back. Or Logan's playing with one of Ava's toys and she wants it back. Since she doesn't understand yet, she screams and hits. Logan knows he's not supposed to hit, so he can't do anything about it and so he cries and tattles and yells. And of course if they're actually playing together, Logan's usually concerned that Ava's going to break or knock over or somehow wreck whatever they're playing with and so he starts getting vocal as soon as she gets near him.

This afternoon they were playing okay. They were at the train table, and as long as I was sitting right there everything seemed to be fine. Sure, Logan would hover protectively over Thomas and the 12 or so train cars he had trailing behind, afraid that Ava would knock them over, but I was able to keep him calm. I went upstairs to check on something and was upstairs for no more than two minutes and there was screams coming from both sides.

Then there's the fact that they just won't listen. Ava understands a surprising amount for her age, but there's a lot she doesn't understand. Plus, when she wants something, she doesn't give a rat's ass what you're trying to tell her. She just wants you to fork over whatever she wants NOW. Logan is a little stir crazy from being inside most of the winter, and he's testing his limits, seeing how far he can push us.

I really don't know what the point of all this is, other than to rant a little bit. Okay. I feel a little better now.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Some Thoughts on Snow Removal

Living in the greater Chicagoland area, we were hit by Snowpocalypse 2011 on Tuesday night/Wednesday. The official total for O'Hare airport, which is only a few miles away, was 20.2 inches. Due to all of the strong winds, accumulation on our driveway alone ranged from a couple inches to about chest high.

That's my car there, the drift next to it completely covered our garbage cans. The shallowest snow bank was directly in front of the car. The tallest was just past that. Between the garage in the far back and the tall drift in front of the car everything was 2-3 feet deep. All the stuff the plows pushed up on our driveway made the snow about 2.5-3 feet deep at the end of the driveway.

I managed to cut a single path from the garage to the street, clear a single path on the sidewalks, and start to clean out behind my car when the snowblower broke. From that point, it was shovel or be stranded. It took about 3 hours after the snowblower broke for us to clear just enough room to get the cars out onto the street.

While I was throwing shovelful after shovelful of snow over increasingly large piles, I had some thoughts about other methods of snow removal. Let me share them with you.

1. Pour out the rest of the gas for the broken snowblower, light a match and walk away. Possibly effective in the short term, but it wouldn't cover much area.

2. Take my father-in-laws space heater out of his room, plug it in, and set it on one of the drifts. His space heater isn't one of the ones that rattles and blows hot air and will cause a fire if you look at it wrong. His is one that's more like a radiator and creates ambient heat. While this might be somewhat effective, I didn't want to short out the heater, and wouldn't have had enough time for it to melt all the snow.

3. Dig out our little fire pit thingie, start a fire next to a snow drift, and move it around as the drift melted. The two big problems with this right off the bat would be digging out the fire pit and then digging out dry wood (if we have any at this point).

4. Body heat. When I got tired, I just sat down in the snow. While this was kind of comfortable, I was too bundled up for my heat to get through, and I was just compacting the snow instead of melting it.

Anybody have any good, or even not so good, ideas for snow removal?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

St. Jude Tike-A-Thon

Logan participated in the St. Jude Research Hospital Trike-A-Thon at this preschool last week. They were late getting the fund-raising packets so we were not able to collect donations before the event, but we are now! Logan completed 12 laps for the Trike-A-Thon and learned all about bike safety and earned his Trike License! He also learned about the incredible kids at St. Jude and how the Trike-A-Thon was going to help them get better!

If you are able to make a donation on his behalf we (and St. Jude's) would greatly appreciate it. I can't image what those parents and children go through and anything we can do to help, I am sure they will be forever grateful for.

Click on the link below to donate:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adventures in Parenting: What Time is the Right Time, for Star Wars?

The other day, Logan and I were in the basement and after some flipping around of TV channels, Logan said "That's just like Star Wars." I don't know exactly what was "just like Star Wars" about changing channels on the TV. Maybe it was something he saw that flashed by on the screen, who knows.

Then I wondered where Logan had come across Star Wars before. I've never really introduced him to Star Wars. It's not that I've tried to keep him away from Star Wars, but it's not something he's really had much exposure to. I have no problem with him enjoying Star Wars, I was quite the Star Wars nerd back in the day.

So for the past couple days now I've been wondering if it's the right time to introduce Logan to Star Wars. Some of you may have seen this before:

All joking aside, is now the right time to introduce Logan to Star Wars? He's four years old, and primarily, I'm worried about him getting scared and then getting turned off from the movies. I would obviously start with A New Hope. We'll save the prequels for another time, perhaps the next time we have a bonfire.

I don't think there's too much in A New Hope that will scare him. Sure there are a variety of aliens in the bar and there's the monster in the trash compactor in the Death Star, but I can't think of anything that's downright scary.

I think Empire with the wompa, the bounty hunters, Han Solo's torture, etc. will have to wait. Likewise, Jedi, with the rancor, sarlac, and other creatures. But I'm really tempted to sit down with him one of these days and watch A New Hope.

I think I'll play it on the safe side, though, and wait until he's at least five. But I don't know, what do you think?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Puzzle is Coming Together, a writing post

I’m still chugging along on my current writing project. As of this writing, I’m at 41,408 words, all hand written. I’m setting monthly goals, and so far have been able to make them. For the current writing project, it amounts to writing at least 400 words per day. Some days I make it, some days I don’t. Friday, I didn’t write anything, but have gone over my daily goal most other days this month.

Why am I writing it all out longhand? I don’t know if there’s one really good reason. It started that way, as most of my writing projects tend to. There was something that seemed to work about writing it all on blue paper, folded into quarters and carried around in a pocket or book bag. It made me really think about the story. And I didn’t have to rely on being able to get to the computer, which I don’t always have access to since we have one for the household.

I’m nearing the end of the story, and as things come together, I’m seeing that the picture I originally thought was there is very different from the picture I see now. I have lots of sections written in red pen that completely change some of the story that has come before it and will call for major rewrites later. This is where I’m kind of kicking myself in the butt, because if I had been typing this from the get go, I could easily put those notes in the proper places or even do a little revising now to make the process easier later. As it stands, I have a lot of rewriting and expansion to do during round two. But even that isn’t bothering me too much.

The original word count goal for the first draft was 80,000 words. But I’m thinking that it will really be more like 50,000 with a lot added in later. I know in On Writing Stephen King said that the second draft = first draft - 10%, but that never seems to be the way it works out for me. Usually the first draft is quick and dirty, I’m getting the story down so I don’t forget it and adding the details later.

After this first draft is done, I think I’ll be revisiting my NaNovel from 2009 and writing some short stories. It’s time to get serious about the writing life if I want to see my name in print (outside of when I was on someone’s payroll doing magazine work that is). I think I’m headed in the right direction, but only time will tell.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adventures in Parenting: I've Created a Monster

That's right, I've created a four-year-old, 42+ pound, snap happy monster. And this really, truly is all my fault. Let me 'splain.

Sometimes to get Logan's attention, or to try to get the point across that X needs to happen now, as in right now, I would snap my fingers. A typical exchange might go thusly:

Me: Logan, it's time for bed. Let's go brush your teeth.
Logan: No.
Me: Let's go now. *snap*


Me: Logan, what do you want for lunch?
Logan: ...
Me: *snap* Hey, Logan, what do you want for lunch?

Logan was fascinated with the finger snap, the simple application of pressure of the middle finger upon the thumb causing the middle finger to slam into the palm of the hand. He wanted to learn how do to it. At first he just tried to imitate, rubbing his first two fingers together. Then he asked how to do it, so I would show him how, first showing him with my hand and then putting his fingers in the right position and trying to explain so that a four-year-old would understand where the application of pressure should occur. After a week or two of showing him and him trying to get it on his own, one day we're sitting on the couch and he snapped his fingers.

I congratulated him on learning a new skill. That was a few days ago. Now, the boy is punctuating *snap* everything *snap* he says *snap* with a *snap*. He'll even be in bed snapping his fingers as I try to get him to go to sleep; the two of us in the dark, and his little fingers snapping away.

Needless to say, it's gotten old really quickly, and now I'm working on what so far seems to be the more difficult task of explaining to him that it's not necessary to snap his fingers about everything and that it's rude to snap his fingers in someone else's face. At least we haven't gotten any notes from his preschool teachers yet. And, it's made me seriously pause and consider before snapping my fingers when I'm trying to get his attention.