Three Things

Yesterday I had a piece of candy without knowing what flavor to expect. It was white, and I usually like candy that's white, because it tastes like vanilla or something. But no, it was a cursed sour apple candy! Oh, green apple, we've met before, but you've crossed the line now. From now on, no green-apple-flavored food (again, aside from green apples themselves, which are delicious) will ever pass my lips!

This morning I formally noted the law that there is a correlation between the thickness of the material of a necktie and the disparity in length between the ends when you begin to tie it. I'm betting this is something everyone who wears a tie knows, but I just wanted to make it a formal law. Can I call it the Hiller law?

I thought it would be fun to swap guest posts with anyone who is interested. We could potentially make new friends and bring new readers to our blogs that way. Is anyone interested?

My Creative Contribution to the World Today

Todd, you really put the “odd” in “Todd.”

(He made me post this. The rest of you have my apologies.)

Milestone

This week it finally happened. There are certain words you always wait for your children to say. For years you keep your ears perked, hoping that the parental dream might be fulfilled. And on Monday night it was for me. Sam came over by me and uttered those unforgettable words: “I want to go to bed.”

Okay, so he didn’t actually go to sleep for another hour or two (although he did lie in bed for a while), but for any child to even mention a desire to get into bed is a huge victory.

Excuses, Excuses

I used to think that once I got married I would escape the majority of socially awkward situations, but sadly this has not been the case. How do you politely continue to turn down invitations issued by someone who is more than a little creepy? I won't elaborate on the situation in case this individual has some indirect connection to someone who reads this blog.
What's the worst excuse you have given or received from an invitation? My favorite was when I once asked a girl out and she told me she couldn't because her uncle was in town. That was awesome in its craziness. I mean, I had to give her props for originality.

So, You Like Spring, Do You?

What is it about the weather that makes it seem like a living being? We had had some relatively warm temperatures recently, including rain, that were finally getting rid of the ugly black "road snow," and some of us were starting to think ahead to spring. Then BAM! We get hit with more snow. Somehow it seems more cruel than if it had just been snowing constantly for the past few weeks.

Living in the Sticks

This week Sam has been sick, and what with all the vomiting our house hasn't been the best-smelling place in the world. So we were spraying everything we could to improve the odor, and I eventually decided to burn some incense I picked up in Hawaii a few years ago. I noticed that there were several sticks that were stuck together, and when I pried them apart I noticed a small (dead) larva of some kind nestled in a little hollow between the sticks.

My Next Crazy Idea

A number of thoughts came together for me this morning, which was rather unexpected given how tired I have felt this week. Anyway, buckle up—we’re in for a bumpy ride today.

First, the internet revolutionized (killed and then resurrected) the music industry. Now there need be no corporate middleman between an artist and the fans. Artists can distribute their own music however they wish, for however much or however little they wish. Also, as much as movie piracy has become a problem, people are making their own videos and actually making money from them.

Now, our society as a whole moves at unbelievable speed when compared to a few decades ago. Everything has to be done now, and we cram as much into our lives as possible. So I’m wondering if this will ever carry over to the stodgy and steeped-in-tradition publishing industry. Some people have already broken out in new ways, with blogging and web comics, and some have found commercial success. I’m wondering if the medium of the short story is about to come into its own, as people continue to stretch themselves thin. That way you might go days or weeks without sitting down to read, and you won’t have forgotten what’s going on in a novel. (Yes, I know that short story collections are sold, but they’re not exactly top sellers for the most part.)

Next, I really enjoy writing, but I don’t have the patience (or, at this point, the skill) to write a complete novel, much as I would love to see my work at a bookstore. So here’s my idea: distributing short stories via the internet. Now, I know that some of you were invited to my private writing blog, which I obviously haven’t maintained very well. What I want to know is, hypothetically, if an author bundled a set of short stories so people could download it for a very small charge, could such a process work?

Think about it. A very few people download the book, then spread the word to family and friends, and eventually the process snowballs. Other writers join in, and we all have the potential to be successful, without an admissions editor at a publishing company to decide what people will and will not like.

I know that people already write and read for free via blogging (duh, look at where we are now), but this is a way to combine fiction writing (which is far less common online) with the convenience of the internet. And there are plenty of hurdles that would have to be overcome, such as people just passing along the stories to others rather than sending them to buy another copy, not to mention word of mouth actually spreading. But what I’m really wondering is a) if such a system could work, b) if my writing is actually enjoyable enough that someone somewhere might someday hypothetically pay for it in some way, and c) if anyone else would be interested in participating.

Hmm, I guess I’m more long-winded than I thought.

Peanut Butter

The recent peanut butter recalls have made me think about the role of peanut butter in my life. Isn't that profound? Seriously, though, I have a strange relationship with it. Growing up I never cared for it all that much (I blame my mom, who doesn't like it). I would put it on sandwiches, but not by itself, and I only used a thin layer.
Well, I'm still pretty much the same. I have never eaten peanut butter out of the jar. I really like peanut butter cups, but I don't like peanut butter in anything else, really (aside from that thin layer in sandwiches). Peanut butter cookies? No thanks. Not even no-bake cookies.
So, needless to say, the recalls have had little effect on me personally.

Last Night I Dreamed...

... that someone said to me, "Children are not a gift; they're a favor."The implication was that you repay the favor by treating them well.

Choke

For the last week, the meteorologists here have been telling us how bad the air quality is right now, due to an inversion that has trapped the layer of pollution in the valley. In fact, my parents called me crazy for running outside the other day. But I honestly couldn’t tell the difference.

But this morning I can almost imagine my throat burning a little bit as I breathe. Is the air quality that much worse, or have I finally let it get to me psychologically?

Watch This

As I was getting in the car this morning, I realized that I had forgotten my watch. I can't remember the last time I went a whole day without wearing a watch. All day I'm going to be sort of shaking my wrist, expecting my watch to slide back down.
I remember the first watch I ever had. It was this little blue plastic digital watch that my parents got for me. A few years later it would occasionally turn up somewhere, still going. I'm not sure why I wasn't still wearing it. I also remember a Marvin the Martian watch that I had for a while.
Anyway, the point I really wanted to make is that I'm not sure why I still wear a watch. I mean, I always have my cell phone on me, although it somehow seems weird to just take the phone out of my pocket to check the time. It certainly would take some adjusting, because I've probably worn one almost every day for at least 20 years.
What do you think? Are watches now superfluous, or will they be around forever?

Sniff—yarg!

A few days ago I noticed that it seemed like my car needed to be aired out. But as the week has progressed I realized that there’s some funky smell in there that keeps getting worse and worse. At this point, allow me to beat you to the punch: Maybe it’s me!

But seriously, it smells like rotten fruit or something. Yesterday I realized that my wife had done last week’s grocery shopping in this car instead of the other one, so I wondered if something had been left behind. But a quick search revealed nothing. I don’t eat in my car, so it’s not old fast-food wrappers with uneaten remains or anything like that.

It’s a strange mystery, and I’ll let you know when I figure it out. In the meantime, think twice if you ask me for a ride—how long can you hold your breath?

You're Cruisin for a Bruisin

On Sunday we were having dinner at my parents' house, while Sam was busy running from room to room. We heard a big thump in the living room, and then he came running into the kitchen. Someone asked him if he hurt himself.
"No," he replied. "I better go try it again."

P.S. The post title is what my mom used to say to us when she was mad.

Three Cherries!

I’m not a gambler by any means. I’ve never so much as pulled the lever on a slot machine, or bet nickels in a poker game. I think gambling is stupid. But I do enjoy randomness in my life. One example of this is the mail.

I love bringing the mail in every day. There’s something about it that is very exciting to me. After all, you never know what is going to be in the box. Will I get a letter from a long-lost friend? Was I expecting a check I forgot about? Probably not. In fact, the mail seems to bear bad news far more often than good news. I imagine that’s not a good trait in a gambler, because I probably wouldn’t “know when to fold ‘em.” But the fact remains that I eagerly anticipate the mail every day.

Listen, Mr. Tooth Decay...

Yesterday I found myself at the dentist for the second time this week, to have a filling replaced where decay had worked its way underneath. So they got to work numbing me (the shots are the worst part, of course). But after two shots I had not sufficiently numbed, so he gave me another shot in a slightly different spot. Still, that particular tooth wasn’t numb. So the dentist said “I’d better go get my gun,” at which point I promptly apologized for being a difficult patient.

The gun was just another tool to inject septocaine, a stronger anesthetic than the standard lidocaine, which finally did the trick. So, after 40 minutes in the chair, they were finally able to do the work.

When the anesthetic hadn’t worn off completely 5 hours later, I was a little worried about permanent numbness (the fact that the dental assistant’s mother suffered from it didn’t help). So I called the office (they are actually open until 7 p.m.), and they told me that sometimes this stronger anesthetic didn’t wear off for 12 hours.

A couple hours later it was finally all gone, and I was left with just that pleasant feeling that always follows dental work. And by “pleasant,” I mean of course “achy and annoying.”

Banana-fana-fo-foel

This morning I was chatting with friends about their middle names. My middle name is Newman, which is my mother’s maiden name. It was also ruined forever by the character by the same name on Seinfeld. Now whenever anyone learns it, they immediately exclaim “Newman!” à la Jerry Seinfeld, thinking they are oh so clever.

Then people always begin singing The First Noel with my name in place of “noel,” also finding this entirely original.

As for my last name, all you have to do is cross the first “l” and you have “Hitler.” Or you can find a more obscure connection, as Korean people did for some reason, and call me “Hillary.”

How has your name been made fun of?

You Will Become a Nonsensical Whiner

I’m a little confused by fortune cookies these days. It seems that just a few years ago, they were still “fortune” cookies with messages such as, “You will soon be visited by a potato from space.” In other words, they told you your fortune.

But sometime in the last 10 years or so, they started becoming more “advice” cookies (last week I got a fortune telling me to eat my vegetables) or, even worse, “general statement” cookies—“Today in Pittsburgh it is sunny and 63 degrees”.

I don’t need advice. I have plenty of people to offer me little pearls of wisdom. What I really need is a piece of paper in an individually wrapped cookie that gives me a glimpse into my alleged future. Is that so much to ask?

Brr (Sigh)

Unpleasant: Having to be at 6:00 a.m. meetings.

More unpleasant: Having to go to the meeting when it's 7 degrees out.

Most unpleasant: After 2 1/2 hours in the meetings, coming out to find that your car has frosted over a second time. For some reason this struck me as tremendously unfair. I probably would have cried, except I'm not sure my tear ducts would have worked at that temperature.

Seasonality

I consider myself a "summer" person. I'm not one of those people who can't commit to a season and love it in spite of its faults, like all the people who only enjoy those two weeks in spring of perfect weather. I love summer, with its uncomfortably hot nights and sizzling afternoons.
That said, I can understand why it's important to have winter too. I imagine it gets really tiring to live in a place that's warm all year long. And the first snowfall is always enjoyable. I also like wearing warmer clothes.
But it always seems like winter and its snow can only really be enjoyed through January 1. After that the world just seems gray and dismal until spring. When I think of February I have a mental image of the last dirty gray lumps of snow clinging to the sides of the road.
So, my proposed weather perfection is to have it be cold and snowy in November and December, and have it warm and sunny the rest of the year, with the occasional warm rain shower. Would somebody please start implementing this plan?