The Negotiator

Sam is really quite the negotiator, always trying to make deals with us to get what he wants. Sometimes it works, and he does something we want and gets something in return. And then there are those times that the conversations go in an unsettling direction:

Me: "You need to eat your yogurt, and then you can have fruit snacks."


Sam: "I won't eat the yogurt until I have my fruit snacks."


Me: "How about I just put you in time out until you have the yogurt?"


Sam: "Well, I'll put you in a house that's on fire!"

Knit Picking



Sweaters are strange things. If you go to a department store in the winter, they are everywhere. But if you look at everyone on the street, the proportion of people wearing one is much smaller. I imagine we all have several sweaters that maybe get worn once a year, but we keep giving and receiving them. Where do they all go? Are they just stuffing the dresser drawers of the world?

Those were my thoughts as I stood in line to exchange a sweater vest I got for Christmas. And I had a lot of time to consider the subject, as the woman in front of me exchanged several sweaters for different sweaters, which all had to be their own transaction for some reason. I guess the bottom line is, if you were an alien and wanted to take over the earth, you could do worse than somehow finding a way to involve the sweaters of the world.

A Hiller Christmas

We were actually going to print and mail a Christmas letter this year, but laziness won out once again. So here it is for your enjoyment.




Season’s greetings to friends, family, and court-appointed investigators! To celebrate the holiday season, rather than as part of any rumored plea bargain, we decided it’s high time we inflict an annual Christmas letter on our loved ones. After all, we enjoy hearing from so many of you every year, and we rejoice in your not-at-all-suspicious good fortune, attractiveness, and ever-increasing accumulation of worldly wealth.

This year has been an eventful one for the Hillers. As the year opened, Joel decided it was time to move on to another job, to better support the family and keep the lawyer on retainer. So after some months of careful planning, a few rolls of duct tape, and some surprised bank employees, we have seen our efforts bear fruit. And through some off-the-record rental agreements, we’ve been able to remain in our lovely home this year with little trouble from the authorities.

Katie has been especially busy this year taking care of the home and preparing for a new arrival. Yes, our little family has expanded to four, following many prayers, a generous “donation,” and the very accommodating headmistress of a certain orphanage in Ireland. We are very pleased to have little Allison in our family, sharing her laughter, smiles, and helping us avoid any official attention from any law-enforcement officers or nosy neighbors who may be on the lookout for a family of three.

Sam is growing like a weed, and his dexterous little hands are becoming increasingly skilled at working with fuses, triggers, and complex wiring. He loves animals almost beyond description, which came in very handy in moving some valuable tarantulas from one country to another under his clothes without raising suspicions from any customs officers. He is also quite the performer, having perfected his “stick ‘em up and nobody gets hurt” glare.

And of course Allison is delightfully charming, holding the attention of everyone who meets her, including law enforcement officers, who never seem to remember why they wanted to talk to us in the first place. She loves playing with any paper she can find, from board books to large, unmarked, nonsequential bills. And she should be crawling any day, freeing up her parents’ hands for carrying “groceries.”

Yes, this last year has truly been a gift. We feel very blessed to have such wonderful, talented children and unimpeachable character witnesses as friends. This coming year is shaping up to be pretty busy as well, with Sam starting school, more travel, and various court dates. We wish you all a happy holiday season and a prosperous new year.

Love,
The Hillers

Coincidences

Last week I noticed a car with a headlight out and thought to myself that of all the car woes I've had, I've never had a headlight burned out. Then the next morning I got to experience it.

Life is strange.

Table Turning

The other day, Sam and I were in the car on the way to the store. I had music on, but it was fairly quiet and only on the front speakers, but he wanted me to turn it off. I explained to him that sometimes we just have to deal with things we don't like.

A few minutes later we pulled into the parking lot, and it was packed. I was muttering about having to park really far away from the store, and Sam took the opportunity to remind me that we sometimes have to just deal with things we don't like.

Yeah, I wonder if this kid will grow up to be a lawyer.

Time Vacuum

Why is it that we are willing to devote so much attention to utterly useless tasks? Last night I spent the better part of an hour trying to untangle a string of beads for the Christmas tree, when I really have no plan to put them on the tree. I could probably have found a dozen more productive things to do with my time.

What pointless task have you completed lately?

Outerwear Undercurrents

I've previously chronicled my affinity for jackets. But I think it's getting more serious. I've gotten two more in just the last month. Last night I opened the coat closet and counted 14 jackets and coats just for me. Is that wrong? I mean, it's not like I'm collecting little knickknacks that serve no purpose, or anything to do with Twilight or whatever.  Don't judge me!

We the People

I think we should all get a chance to draft a law. Mine would demand the death penalty for anyone throwing cigarette butts on the ground. And if you throw it out of a moving car, you are tortured first.

What would your law be?

Patterns

It's odd the patterns we notice in our lives. One pattern I notice in my family is that our sleep tends to be cyclical. Sunday nights are the worst, for some reason, setting us up for an exhausted week. Then we do a little better through Thursday, and then we end up getting to bed late Friday, because we're too beat from getting the kids to bed during the week to care too much when we don't have to get up early.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Sundays are the worst nights for us, which I decided again at some point last night. Here's how it went down:

8:30—Allison is asleep. Hooray! She never goes to bed that early.

9:30—Sam is asleep. Finally, a chance to get 8 hours on a work night...

10:30—Allison gets up. Katie gets up with her.

1:30—I finally realize Katie hasn't come to bed yet, and that Allison is still up. We trade off.

2:00—I get Allison to sleep and go back to bed. I toss and turn for 30 minutes or so.

2:45—Sam gets up. I go down to his room with him.

3:30—I'm still awake with Sam, who can't go back to sleep for some reason. Allison wakes up again. Katie get up to help her, while I continue to try getting Sam to sleep.

4:00—Allison goes back to sleep. Sam is still awake.

5:00—Sam is still awake.

5:30—Sam is still awake. Allison wakes up again. Katie gets up to feed her. I give up on Sam and get in the shower.

6:00—Allison is asleep again. I send Katie back to bed and let Sam come downstairs to watch some cartoons.

7:00—Sam is still awake, watching cartoons when I leave for work.

Usually there's a reason when he is up for a long time, like he has to go to the bathroom and won't admit it. I had him use the bathroom, I got him a drink, I put some lotion on him to help with itchy skin, and I even gave him some food around 4. But all for naught.

Anyway, I imagine this is a really boring post, but lack of sleep tends to cloud my judgment. You can't unread it!

All That Jazz

Last night I had the good fortune to be able to attend a Jazz game with my friend Rob, who was given the tickets by someone in his ward. And I feel spoiled, because our seats were on the 7th row. It was a really fun experience, although in a way it was bad because now I'll never be satisfied with the nosebleed seats again. Thanks for ruining every game I ever go to in the future, Rob.

Here's a photo to show that the players looked like people rather than ants from this distance.

Thanksgiving

Per our bi-annual custom, we went to Toquerville this year for Thanksgiving. We like trying out different places to stay in the area, and this time we decided to try a motel right outside Zion National Park. When we got there at 10:30 Wednesday evening, this was our first look at the view:

[caption id="attachment_1010" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption=""I'd like a room with a view of the big, dark blur, please.""][/caption]

While enjoying the sights (or unloading the car, anyway), I heard leaves rustling behind me.

[caption id="attachment_1001" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption="If you look closely at the center of the picture, you can see a darker blur."][/caption]

It was a deer that didn't really seem to care that I was there. I took a video of it on my phone, but it wasn't playing nice with WordPress. Anyway, the deer just calmly strode across the silent parking lot, munching leaves.

In the morning, here was the view.

[caption id="attachment_1004" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption="Not too shabby"][/caption]



The next morning I was signed up to run the Toquerville Turkey Trail Trot, along with Katie's brother. It was the third year in a row I have done a 5k on Thanksgiving morning. I think it's a fun tradition. Anyway, it was a surprisingly low 20 degrees out, with an Arctic wind blowing at 30 mph. It was unbelievable. Plus it's all running in sand and rocks and up hills. It was definitely the hardest run I've done.

[caption id="attachment_1002" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption="This was after the race. We weren't smiling, the wind just froze our faces like that."][/caption]

Then we had a lovely Thanksgiving. The weather got a little better just in time for us to leave, but at least we got home before the next snowstorm hit Saturday night.

http://joelhiller.net/2008/12/01/sore-drumsticks/

Alli-Gator

I have a feeling that most tomboys have an older brother...

[caption id="attachment_986" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption="Yes, that's some sort of crocodilian"][/caption]

McDonald's Girl

Katie and the kids came down to Provo today, and we went to McDonald's for lunch. Allison was trying to grab our food, as usual. We finally gave her a couple of fries to gum on. Here she is with one clenched in each fist.

[caption id="attachment_979" align="aligncenter" width="169" caption="Nom nom nom"][/caption]

Get 'em started early, I always say.

See My Zest

I learned something new today. I was really tired this morning, so I was tempted to drink a caffeinated soda. But instead I decided to try an experiment. I had some grapefruit juice instead. I figured the sour, bitter taste would do a good job of keeping me awake. And it worked! My friend Rob had this to say about this particular beverage:

I like grapefruit juice, because it feels like it's fighting back.


Now I do enjoy eating grapefruit, but I've never before actually just had the juice by itself. I nursed it throughout the day, and by the afternoon I was surprised to find that I was actually enjoying it. Sort of an alimentary Stockholm syndrome, I suppose...

Let's Take Some Time to Think about This

So my new drive is an 80-mile round trip every day. I was a little worried about getting sick of listening to the same music over and over, until I did the math. If I just let my iPod shuffle through all 3500 songs, I actually won't repeat anything for at least 5 months. Amazing.

The other thing I've noticed about the drive is that they have a bunch of new billboards that tell you the current estimated waiting time at the emergency room for local hospitals. Am I the only one who thinks this is ridiculous? Would anyone on the entire planet shop around for the emergency room with the shortest wait? "Hang in there, honey—the hospital on the other side of town can get you in 5 minutes sooner! Just keep that tourniquet on there!" Seriously, what's the point of advertising an emergency room, when everyone just goes to the one nearest them?

Better Late Than Never

I know there are thousands of people out there wondering where I have been. Don't worry, I'm not dead. I actually started a new job a couple of weeks ago, and it's a long commute, which leaves my evenings shorter and reduces the time I have for blogging.

Anyway, here are a couple pictures from Halloween.

This is supposed to be a monkey, which everyone knows have pineapple rings surrounding their navels.


This is a dragon, from How to Train Your Dragon. Getting into character was not an issue.




More updates will follow soon.

Reverse Halloween

While Sam and I were trick-or-treating tonight, he asked me this:

What if trick-or-treating meant you visited other people’s houses and brought them candy?

Awesome.

Like, Whoa, Man

This little thought (thoughtlet?) has been in the back of my mind for a while. And it's ridiculous, but I need to get it out of there. So here it is.

Babies are fascinated with shiny things. Also, they can stare at their hands for a long time, just watching them move. So... babies kind of act like potheads? Am I terrible for thinking that's funny?

R.I.P.

After much soul searching, I have decided not to dress up for Halloween. First of all, it's on a Sunday this year, which immediately takes about 90% of the fun out of it. Then, if I were to dress up at work, it's 2 days early, which makes me feel dumb walking around dressed up. Also, nobody at this company dresses up, apparently. Like literally nobody. So the only way anybody would see me is when I take Sam trick-or-treating on Saturday. But it's all dark then anyway, so it's pointless. Instead I have decided to focus my creative efforts on pumpkin carving. I'll keep you posted.

Taboo

One day while I was carpooling with Rob, I found a buzzer from the board game Taboo in his car. It didn't take me long to realize that it could be used to effectively interrupt the speech of others. So I decided I need to carry one of those around with me at all times and use it when people make nonsensical or blatantly untrue statements. I predict awesomeness. Or a black eye. Only one way to find out!

New Addition

Meet Dortmunder, named after the character mentioned in this post.



We got him yesterday from animal services. After a day of being really skittish, he settled down this afternoon and has become pretty affectionate.

The Storyteller

Last night I asked Sam to tell Allison a story. Here's what he said, as best as I could get it written down.

Once upon a time there was a frog, and he wanted to be a reptile instead of an amphibian. So he hopped home to his log. One day a predator came and moved to the log, but he got away. And then he was happy to be an amphibian.

If he had just made a connection like the frog hopped away from the predator and that helped him realize that being an amphibian was great, it would be publishable as a children's story.

Meow Meow Meow Meow

It's interesting to me that the subject of cats is, like politics and religion, a polarizing one. Most people I have talked to have strong feelings one way or the other.

"Cats are evil!"

"Cats are cute and cuddly!"

"Cats hate me!"

"Cats are just good at detecting those who hate them!"

"Cats are crabby and self-centered!"

"Cats are sweet and loving!"

Anyway, I'm thinking of getting a kitten in the next week or so. Jer is going to get a puppy, and we'll house them together to socialize them and so they'll have company. I'll keep you posted on what happens.

The Naked Truth

Okay, here we go again.

Some of you may remember my post about how breast cancer gets all the media attention. Today I'm going to take issue with a different aspect of the same media coverage. My problem now is that every time there's a story about breast cancer, there is an accompanying photo of a naked woman with her hand over her breast.

Seriously? First of all, will we really not know what they're talking about without that photo? What about a photo of a (clothed) average-looking survivor, or a doctor holding a mammogram? And second, doesn't that sort of cheapen the cause by associating it with sex? I bet everyone would object if, adjacent to a story about prostate cancer, they had a photo of a naked man with his hand over his crotch.

What's for Lunch Wednesday: Week 2

This week's experience: Navajo Hogan

Go check it out. The blog entry, I mean.

Well, actually, you should go check out the restaurant too.

For and Against

I'm not a terribly competitive person, and I challenge anyone who disagrees to a sack race. But even with my mild temperament (I only placed third in my age division at the annual tri-county Jerk Festival last month), the animosity that often accompanies sporting competitions and even politics disturbs me.

Now, to a point this makes sense. I understand that our brains are lazy, and it's easier to just cram everything on one side or the other of the us/them fence, rather than consider multiple viewpoints. But the weird thing is how we'd rather spend our time throwing flaming bags of dog poop across that fence than building an awesome bowling alley on our own side.

Case in point: the 2004 presidential election. When I asked any supporters of John Kerry why they were voting for him, this is sort of how it went:

"So why did you decide to vote for him?"

"Bush is terrible! He's gotten us stuck in a useless war, and he's secretly in league with
the Ku Klux Klan!"


"Um, okay. But you must like what Kerry wants to do for the country, right?"

"And he's going to sell our children's organs to zoos for meat!"

On a related note, last weekend, when the BYU football team was being humiliated by Utah State, I saw a fan wearing a shirt that said "Buck FYU." I wish I were making that up.

In conclusion, because I don't know where else this post is going, children are the future.

Punch Drunk

The first real communication we've had with Allison, as far as her really responding to something we say, is for her to "punch" us. She's especially willing to do it to Sam, for some reason. Anyway, this isn't the best example, but it sort of illustrates how it works. She usually does at least wave her arm around a bit when we tell her.

Punch

What's for Lunch?

My friend and coworker (and soon to be famous author) Rob started a new feature on his blog which involves us eating out and reporting on it in a witty manner. You can read the first entry here.

And on an unrelated note, I just had to delete 35 spam comments that came in overnight, so I am going to have to make some adjustments to the commenting procedure. I'll keep it as simple as possible, only escalating the procedure when the spambots overwhelm the current settings.

Snoozequest

All parents have tricks they use for getting babies to sleep (at least, the ones who haven't yet been committed to a mental institution), and one of the most popular methods involves rocking your baby to sleep with soft music. (Pro tip: In my experience, horror movies are less than ideal for getting your kids to sleep.)

With Sam, we used a CD of gentle piano music. And now we've found something that seems to work for Allison. Your job is to guess what it is.

a. Greatest Military Marches - The Very Best of John Philip Sousa

b. Stunt by Barenaked Ladies

c. The Phantom of the Opera (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

d. Nacho Libre (The Motion Picture Soundtrack)

e. Now That's What I Call Music, Vol. 29

Go.

Halloween Indecision

Tonight I took Sam to a Halloween store to look at costumes, so he could start deciding what he wants to be. Here's our conversation on the way home.

"Sam, what do you want to be for Halloween?"

"A snake spider bat chipmunk squirrel ghost."

Kernel Knowledge

Most people in my family, including me, eat corn on the cob in rows, like a typewriter. But some eat rings around it. What do you do?

Dream # Whatever

There was a giant robot composed of many parts held together by magnets that crashed to earth as a meteorite, and I had to stop it. Stopping it involved sand and water, and then for some reason I got a snake to wiggle inside of it and eat its heart, which was apparently something akin to a mouse, or something equally desirable to a snake.

And the earth was safe again. But for how long?

5 Favorite Candy Bars

(in no particular order)

Caramello

Milky Way

Kit Kat

U-no

Almond Joy

What about you?

Yuck

Last week we started giving Allison rice cereal. Here's how she reacted.

Treed Off

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to lie down for about half an hour, but as I prepared for my little nap I heard a strange scraping sound. A little investigation revealed that some branches from the neighbor's tree were scraping along the eaves of our house. I had to get up on the roof to be able to trim the branches. While I was up there I noticed just how overgrown their trees are. Some of the branches overhanging our roof will require a chainsaw to remove.

So, combined with the additional plumbing problems we experienced a week ago courtesy of roots in the pipes (yes, plumbing problems again), I think it may be time these trees have a little... accident.

Arachnophilia

My dad gave Sam a toy scorpion. He's been sleeping with it for the last week. It's actually very cute to see how attached he is to it.

Spambots 1, Fleshbots 0

I can't believe how many spam comments I get on this new website. They outnumber real comments, which is kind of sad.

Stealth Bomber

I feel that we were reasonably well prepared for child #2. I know that the second child is always the complete opposite of the first, but in Allison's case that just means she sleeps at night. There haven't yet been too many experiences that surprise me. Nevertheless, she managed a doozy yesterday.

She was pretty cheerful in church for the most part, taking a nap for a while in my arms. Then in sacrament meeting Sam wanted to take a trip out to the drinking fountain. While we were out there, I decided to check Allison's diaper. And that's when I realized that she had managed to sneak one by me. Despite her tendency to be rather obvious when she has a bowel movement, she apparently went into stealth mode for church, perhaps in a bid for reverence. And it had happened a while before, because it had had time to get all over her clothes, and also all over my suit pants.

Katie, being the wonderful wife she is, had packed an extra outfit for her in case such a situation should arise. Now I need to see if I can cram an extra pair of slacks in the diaper bag each week...

Be (Over)Prepared

We've all occasionally been in roadside emergencies. It's impossible to prepare for every contingency, but I think we can be ready to deal with the majority of things. So here's my list (so far) of things you should always have in your trunk.

Spare tire and jack

Jumper cables

Small socket set

Portable compressor that plugs into the cigarette lighter (or a can of slime, I guess, but these compressors are cheap and awesome)

Blanket

Gallon of water

Basic first aid kit

Quart of oil

Windshield washer fluid

Coolant

What else?

Confessions of a Twit

A week or so ago, someone signed me up on Twitter because he was convinced I would enjoy it. He had me follow a bunch of people he finds amusing. And for a few days I checked it out, thinking it was kind of fun. But then I realized it's really just annoying. In order to understand what anyone was talking about I had to make sure I went back to read everything they posted previously, and many of them aren't as funny as they think they are. So this morning I deleted my account. Consider me de-twitted.

Do any of you use Twitter, for good or ill?

Test

Test

The Hike

On a whim, Katie and I decided to take the family up Mill Creek Canyon yesterday for a hike. Here's what I learned:


  • Nobody who is coming down has any idea how much farther you have left to go. It's perpetually "half a mile." But the view is "totally worth it."

  • When the sign at the beginning of the trail says it's a two-mile trail, that apparently means vertically.

  • Carrying a 15-pound baby in a harness for 4 hours is kind of tiring.

  • A child can complain for hours coming down the mountain about how much his feet hurt, and then when you get home he will still have enough energy to demand that you play with him.

  • Next time we will look for a trail with an escalator. Those exist, right?




Next time I'll remember to bring a real camera. This kind of looks like we were looking at a painting or something.

Keyboard 2: The Sequel

Pretend for a moment that you remember this post. Now, consider this:



This is a new keyboard at a new job. I guess my typing habits are predictable.

Seriously, This Time It's Fixed

Look, I know you're sick of reading about the plumbing thing. But we've got to see this thing through!

So, yeah. The plumbers thought they had things fixed. But once I got around to reconnecting everything under the sink, I discovered that it was a no-go situation. So they had to come back. Even with their rooter machine or whatever it is, it took them over an hour to work their way through our goofy pipes to clear things out. But I'm so happy that I no longer have to descend to the basement to brush my teeth.

I'm the King

... of leaving the oven on after I take the food out.

What are you the king or queen of?

Housekeeping Note

If you want to leave a comment here on the blog, you don't actually have to provide any identifying information, despite the asterisks by the fields. I still recommend you put your name in, so I know who is mocking me, but none of that is required.

Sunk

The pros showed up. They hooked up a hose to the plumbing vent on the roof and flushed the clog out, without having to directly mess with any of the plumbing at all. It took about 15 minutes. And as soon as we get the pipes hooked back up in the bathroom, I'll be able to fully verify that claim.

I Sink It's Time We Call a Professional

In part 3 of our ongoing series What Lives in the Pipes, Jer and his dad came by last night to snake the drain. They worked for quite a while, and found a lot of sludgy goodness, but no cohesive clog manifested itself.

We found out later that they did at least manage to make a difference, as now the other drain pipes in the house are backing up. So there could have been a clog that just got pushed farther down the line, past the point where other pipes intersect it. Or it possibly would have happened anyway. Or, alternatively, bits of food washing up your bathroom sink are actually a good thing.

At any rate, professional plumbers are (allegedly) on their way as I type this.

Bad Juxtaposition

I was just watching one of those survival shows on the Discovery Channel, and one of the characters announced that they were going to have to drink their urine for any hydration.

Cut to a commercial break. And the first commercial is for... Mountain Dew.

That Sinking Feeling

You know that scene in Finding Nemo in which *spoiler alert* Marlin and Dory get swallowed by the pelican, and Marlin digs in to keep from being swallowed all the way? The clog in our bathroom seems to be doing the same thing. Jer came over last night and we attempted to blast through the clog by jamming a hose down the sink. Now our bathroom looks like an ancient river deposited silt, and maybe dinosaur bones, all around the room (if dinosaur bones are made from hair and mystery gunk).

Next step: the snake

Things I Care about More than I Should

En dashes

The amount of peanut butter in my sandwich

Getting all the inner peel off when I peel an orange

Sink Me

A couple weeks ago we noticed that our bathroom sink was not draining well. And, as is the way with such things, it eventually progressed to the point where some sort of action was necessary. So, being the extremely manly man that I am, I decided to see if I could fix it myself.

I decided to start by looking under the sink. Check. My manly instinct as to where I might find the plumbing was dead on. Next comes... hmm. What is next? When gently tapping the pipes failed to immediately resolve the issue (note: fixing a plumbing problem is not like fixing a TV), I decided more drastic action was necessary.

"I guess I could try taking a look at that funny-looking pipe under there," I thought. This was the P-trap, a likely place for clogs to congregate, or so I thought. But as soon as I touched the thing, I discovered something startling. Something was wrong. I performed a quick Google search and discovered that pipes, in fact, are usually supposed to connect to each other. In this case, the two pipes were touching but not actually attached in any way. Writing down this new discovery for future reference ("Pipes should connect"), I decided to at least proceed with my plan to find the clog. In fact, since I now had to disconnect only one end of the pipe, my work had been cut in half.

Sadly, the search for the clog was fruitless. Not only that, but by moving the pipe I disrupted the delicate seal of greasy nastiness that was providing an ad hoc seal to keep water flowing without leaking out all over the bathroom.

Satisfied that by making things worse my job was done, I gave up and called Jer, who will come fix it for us soon.

Rule of Decline

I'm going to make up a new rule of business. Maybe someone has already thought of this, but as far as I know it's original. I call it the Rule of Decline. That means that as soon as you start a job, the benefits (and usually the atmosphere in general) are only ever going to decline. That is, the longer you stay at one job, the worse things generally get.

What do you think? Am I right?

Note: I'm not complaining about my job; I like it. It's just something I've been thinking about for a while.

Hair

Hair is a funny thing. We want it on top of our heads, but on other places it's really annoying. In our food, gross. In the drain, gross. On your back, gross. And it takes forever to break down, so those clogs in the plumbing require serious work.

On a more-or-less related note, hair is made of protein, right? Keratin is the main protein in human hair, which is made up of amino acids that the body could use, except that in hair form they are not digestible. I would like to see a commercial product that campers and hikers could carry with them to use in case they get lost to be able to break down their hair to make it digestible. It beats cutting off your arm and cooking it, right?

This post has taken a disturbing turn. I think I need to end it now.

Redhead

People always always ask us where Allison got her red hair. Here are some responses I'm considering:

"Her DNA, of course."

"The milkman."

"Huh, I never noticed the red hair."

"The box called it 'Autumn Sunset.'"

"She got switched at birth. We're just taking care of here while we look for our real baby."

"Babywigs.com"

What else could we say?

Hello New Day

Welcome to the new—and if not improved, then at least quality-consistent— blog. I hope this proves to be the same reliable source of entertainment that the previous blog was. And if not, the fault probably lies with you somehow.

The End

Well, my friends, it's time to close up shop. Our time together here at Blogger is drawing to a close.



...but that's only because I'm moving to a brand-new, shiny, full-fledged website! Sorry if you thought last week's post was referring to anything personal like having another baby or moving or something like that. Rumors of anything interesting happening to me are greatly exaggerated.

Anyway, the new site is joelhiller.net. Here's a direct link to the blog. Right now I've just got basic functionality going, but it has imported all my posts and your insightful comments (and the rest; let's face it, the insight filter is curiously lacking). I'll be adding a lot more content in the near future, particularly related to my professional experience. Let me know of anything that doesn't work. Right now it might be a pain to leave comments; I'll probably change that in the near future.

See you there (or else)!

Thirty Thoughts

1. Is that more hair in the shower drain every morning?

2. What's the big deal? It's just a number with a zero at the end. Why should we consider that significant?

3. Am I still allowed to wear shorts?

4. I need to buy a house within the next five years or we won't have it paid off by retirement age. Then again, my generation won't be able to retire until age 80, so I shouldn't worry.

5. I really should be eating more green, leafy vegetables. If I leave potatoes in the fridge long enough, will that count?

6. Going back to school is getting less and less likely. Then again, sending kids to school will be enough trauma.

7. At least I no longer look like I'm 12, which I did until I was about 23.

8. I will never wear my cell phone on my belt.

9. For some reason, there's a big difference between having a kid and having kids.

10. You kids get off the lawn!

11. I wonder when my memory will start to go.

12. Inside of me beats the heart of an 18-year-old. At least, the doctors claim he was 18 when he had the skateboarding accident...

13. As the years go on, should I feel increasingly ashamed for watching cartoons?

14. I don't feel the urge to buy a Mazda Miata.

15. Cold cereal is still awesome for any meal.

16. At least I can still fit into the suit I bought in high school.

17. It's hard staying up past 11.

18. This actually is pretty much how I pictured my life would be... except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

19. I'm becoming disturbingly comfortable in slacks and a button-up shirt, and wearing t-shirts less.

20. So far I have no intention of getting a minivan. Although they are an efficient way to get the kids around... No! I must resist!

21. I still put olives on my fingers.

22. Sadly, I have come to recognize the wisdom of my parents, and I even ask their advice on occasion.

23. Let's see, what historical events was I alive for? The fall of the Berlin Wall, September 11, and Al Gore being made first emperor of the moon.

24. Fauxhawks? Has it really come to this?

25. Back in my day, we didn't have fancy shoes with wheels that popped out of them.

26. Video games may be more complex now, but the NES ruled. Your girlfriend got kidnapped; what more storyline do you need? Go bust some heads!

27. Whatever happened to Square One? I loved that show.

28. I wonder when my memory will start to go.

29. What's this "information superhighway" I keep hearing about?

30. I'm still younger than most of the people who will read this.

Thirty Thoughts

1. Is that more hair in the shower drain every morning?

2. What's the big deal? It's just a number with a zero at the end. Why should we consider that significant?

3. Am I still allowed to wear shorts?

4. I need to buy a house within the next five years or we won't have it paid off by retirement age. Then again, my generation won't be able to retire until age 80, so I shouldn't worry.

5. I really should be eating more green, leafy vegetables. If I leave potatoes in the fridge long enough, will that count?

6. Going back to school is getting less and less likely. Then again, sending kids to school will be enough trauma.

7. At least I no longer look like I'm 12, which I did until I was about 23.

8. I will never wear my cell phone on my belt.

9. For some reason, there's a big difference between having a kid and having kids.

10. You kids get off the lawn!

11. I wonder when my memory will start to go.

12. Inside of me beats the heart of an 18-year-old. At least, the doctors claim he was 18 when he had the skateboarding accident...

13. As the years go on, should I feel increasingly ashamed for watching cartoons?

14. I don't feel the urge to buy a Mazda Miata.

15. Cold cereal is still awesome for any meal.

16. At least I can still fit into the suit I bought in high school.

17. It's hard staying up past 11.

18. This actually is pretty much how I pictured my life would be... except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.

19. I'm becoming disturbingly comfortable in slacks and a button-up shirt, and wearing t-shirts less.

20. So far I have no intention of getting a minivan. Although they are an efficient way to get the kids around... No! I must resist!

21. I still put olives on my fingers.

22. Sadly, I have come to recognize the wisdom of my parents, and I even ask their advice on occasion.

23. Let's see, what historical events was I alive for? The fall of the Berlin Wall, September 11, and Al Gore being made first emperor of the moon.

24. Fauxhawks? Has it really come to this?

25. Back in my day, we didn't have fancy shoes with wheels that popped out of them.

26. Video games may be more complex now, but the NES ruled. Your girlfriend got kidnapped; what more storyline do you need? Go bust some heads!

27. Whatever happened to Square One? I loved that show.

28. I wonder when my memory will start to go.

29. What's this "information superhighway" I keep hearing about?

30. I'm still younger than most of the people who will read this.

Prevenge

I have already forgotten much of what Sam was like as a baby, but I really think Allison has a much louder digestive system. Seriously, I can hear when she does her thing several rooms away. It's actually rather impressive.

And if you're wondering about the title of the post, it's because I plan to show this to her friends and dates when she's a teenager.

Prevenge

I have already forgotten much of what Sam was like as a baby, but I really think Allison has a much louder digestive system. Seriously, I can hear when she does her thing several rooms away. It's actually rather impressive.

And if you're wondering about the title of the post, it's because I plan to show this to her friends and dates when she's a teenager.

Big Changes

Coming soon: Awesomely exciting happenings. Stay tuned.

Well, rather than sit staring at this page for days, I guess you could just check back periodically. Or get smart and subscribe to the feed. Whatever.

Big Changes

Coming soon: Awesomely exciting happenings. Stay tuned.

Well, rather than sit staring at this page for days, I guess you could just check back periodically. Or get smart and subscribe to the feed. Whatever.

Pollywog

When we were in southern Utah last weekend, I took Sam down to Toquerville park. Quite unexpected for that part of the state, they have a nice little wetland area going on there. Sam and I spent a while chasing lizards and catching frogs and tadpoles.

I've almost lost my tail!

Pro Tip #2

If you ever travel in time and bring Nikola Tesla* back with you, be careful not to let him see that General Electric products are everywhere (G.E. having been founded in part by Thomas Edison, who was kind of a colossal jerk toward Tesla).


*I dreamed about this last night, including turning it into a Pro Tip post. But it was Edison in my dream, which didn't make too much sense.

Junebug in July

As with last year, we had a visit from a junebug tonight, apparently wanting to join us as we set off a few fireworks. Even more amazingly, this guy liked to stand erect for some reason.

Polyphylla Erectus?




Look ma, no hands or hands!


One Person Can Make a Difference!

Sam doesn't eat a great variety of food. One of the few things he will eat, though, is orange creme yogurt. Katie eats them too, so we probably buy 30 to 50 of them a month. And in recent months, I have noticed at the stores we frequent that the space for that particular flavor of yogurt is expanding. In at least one store there is more room for that one than any other flavor.

I Don't Say Evasion, I Say Avoision

The other day someone at work told me he can't eat any food that is pink, as a result of associating Pepto Bismol with being sick. I've heard from other people that they can't take that medicine anymore because of having it when they were sick as a kid.

Do any of you have an aversion to Pepto? How about other foods?

The Good Old Days

Last night some of my old high school friends came over for a barbecue. It was really fun to see them again and get updated on their lives, as much as that is possible within a couple hours. And as we sat there chatting, it suddenly struck me: When did we all become responsible adults? Gone are the days of the random road trip and sitting on the porch talking late at night, throwing snails out into the street. (Oh, like you never did that.)

So here's the question: Is is possible to fulfill your adult responsibilities and still have time for spontaneous shenanigans once in a while? How do you plan to be spontaneous?

The Painful Truth

Admit it, you know this is true.


The Hugging Fern

Sam is such a boy. I mean, obviously—he's a boy. But it's funny that he's already learning to hide his emotions like a real man.

There's an episode of the cartoon Garfield and Friends, which he likes to watch, that has a meat-eating fern with tentacles that grab people. Somehow we adapted that into a game in which I am the fern trying to grab him, but instead of a man-eating fern I'm a hugging fern. He struggles and struggles, but then he puts his foot back where I can grab it again and reel him in for another hug. Eventually he sort of goes limp and accepts the hugs. This is the sort of instinct that will serve him well later in dating, where he learns the link between emotion and making excuses: "Sorry I stepped on your foot there. Can I take you to dinner to make it up to you?"

Empathy

Have you ever been yelled at by a customer or client? If not, congratulations—you're probably the jerk doing the yelling. I think there are a few jobs that we should each have to do at some point in our lives in order to be less of a jerk:


Janitor

Server at a restaurant

Customer service by phone


What else?

Unsolved Mysteries

We each have mysteries in our life that we hope to have solved some day. Some of us wonder how our lives would have been different if a decision had been made differently. But I don't care about that. All I wonder is where my stuff has gone. Several years ago I lost my favorite tie, given to me by a family in Korea. And then later I lost a nice pair of brass chopsticks someone had made for me. These events simply don't make sense; I simply can't imagine what could have happened to them.

What are the mysteries in your life that you hope to solve some day?

Web of Truth

Every morning when I walk outside I see a few strands of a spider web strung across the porch. And every morning I have no choice but to break it as I go to the car. But despite these daily setbacks, the spider doesn't give up. He rebuilds it every day.

There's a lesson here about perseverance. Specifically, the lesson is that there's a point at which perseverance becomes stupidity. Just build the web somewhere else, you dumb spider.

Pro Tip #1

Never make punctuality the first item on the agenda for a meeting.

Draft

I was looking through my blog posts and noticed a lot of drafts that I never finished. Either I ran out of ideas, or I realized they made pretty boring posts. Here's a smattering of my incomplete thoughts:

---------------------------------------------------------

For some reason, I've been thinking lately about how to rate bands. I think the best way to boil it down to a single number is to use the ratio of songs I listen to vs those I habitually skip when they come up in a playlist. I call this the Rockin' Ratio, or RR. For example, my RR for the band Guster is 98%, because of the 61 songs I have of theirs, there's only one that I usually skip. On the other hand

I'm probably the only person in the world who would care about this.
---------------------------------------------------------

The hardest things I've ever done:
  • Toilet training a child
  • Running ten miles with an injured knee (incidentally, this also ranks high on the list of the dumbest things I've ever done)
  • Learning Korean
Interesting list, but I never could figure out what else belonged on it. I guess "Finish this list."
---------------------------------------------------------

Things that make me smile:
  • That little squeaking sound newborn babies make
  • The lady with the limp who still put her cart back in the cart return
  • Easter candy on clearance
Why did I give up on this one? I suppose it's not a cynical enough post.
---------------------------------------------------------

I sometimes see a piece of trash on the street such as a wrapper


Profound, aren't I? I'm sure glad I saved this one.
---------------------------------------------------------

I just had an amazing movie title pop into my head. I'm not going to photoshop a poster, though, because the results would be a little too insensitive even for me.


I wish I could remember what this was. It sounds awesome.
---------------------------------------------------------

Timing

We all know that what is attractive changes. White skin, tan skin, child-bearing hips, skinny hips, and so on. Whatever you look like, there's a fair chance that at some point in history you would have been considered at least somewhat attractive.

As far as my appearance, I suppose skinny pale guys are as popular now as ever, what with all the hipsters running around, and sparkly vampires and whatnot. What about you? When would your golden age be?

Seeing Red

1. I woke up this morning with a weird red mark on my arm like I was bitten by a spider, or an extremely small and overzealous Twilight fan.

2. I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to getting new bath towels. Katie got us some nice red ones, but even if you wash them several times before use they still leave lint on you for weeks. So I'm probably going to look like I'm constantly shedding chicken pox or something over the next few days.

Ow!

Do you ever find yourself automatically saying, "Ow!" when you bump into something, even when it doesn't hurt? I've been noticing lately that I do*, and it bugs me.


(something about whales)


*Actually, I've been saying "Owie!" which is even worse.

A Whale of a Meal

I often drive past a Mexican seafood restaurant, which I suppose is a fun idea. What puzzles me, however, is why they chose to paint a giant whale on the side of the building. Am I the only one who thinks that's not the ideal image of seafood? I'm pretty sure eating whale is illegal in this country.

What do you think of when you think of seafood? Should they have painted a giant crab or lobster on the building?

Equivalents

Apparently, I need more realistic goals in life. Theoretically, you could eat a whale "one bite at a time," right? Well, it looks like your entire food consumption throughout your life only be (at most) a quarter of a blue whale's mass. You could probably make it through a humpback whale, but it just wouldn't be the same. Go big or go home.

Costcoffensive?

Sorry for two family-related posts in a row, but I need to record something Sam said last night. We were at Costco and decided to get some ice cream on the way out. With the smell of various foods in the air at the counter, Sam said, "It smells like barbecue in the garbage." Fortunately, I don't think any of the employees heard.

Random Pics

Any questions? Yes, you in the back.




Not yet old enough to fight


I'm coming for you!

Conifer 2: The Revengening

Remember last year's ranting about the pine cones? Well, I decided to count them this time. It has been 13 days since I mowed the lawn, and I just picked up 504 pine cones. And that's just the grass, not the landscaped area directly under the tree.

Pineapple Philosophy

This morning it occurred to me that the world is like a pineapple. When getting a pineapple ready to eat, you obviously cut off the skin (peel?). But you usually end up with little bits of the skin left. If you cut enough of the skin off to remove all those last little bits, your pineapple is a lot smaller that it would be otherwise.

Similarly, you can avoid a lot of the terrible things in the world, but you can only do so much without shutting yourself away completely, in which case you also miss a lot of valuable experiences. And those unpleasant things you have to deal with just make the rest of the life-pineapple that much better.

When Cheaper Is Better

Kites (Sam's grandpa bought several fancy kites, but none of them would fly. We bought a $2 one at K-Mart, and it works great.)

Hot dogs (Honestly, I prefer the $.88 packages over the expensive all-beef ones.)

Cereal (Some kinds, like Malt-O-Meal's cinnamon toasters, are better than their expensive counterparts.)

What am I forgetting?

Who Doesn't Enjoy a Good Book?

Nobody, that's who.

Double Teamed

We were just accosted by the worst salesmen ever. The first one apparently tried to open our door, and immediately upon my answering he launched into an overly friendly condescending spiel about how he wants to demonstrate his carpet cleaning. When I told him no politely, he continued to ask me what is the most trafficked carpet area in the house.

While he was ignoring my attempts to be civil, a second salesman walked up to the door and asked what the first guy was selling. Apparently he has something against magazine salesmen and kicks them out of his neighborhood when the come around, because "they're all thieves."

As I refused to let the first one in the house, the second one insisted that he wouldn't take more than a moment. When I insisted that it was an extremely bad time (which is the truth) he second man asserted that he had no choice but to come by on Saturdays because nobody was home during the week. He also pointed out that they are paid on commission, trying to play the pity card. Eventually I had to flat out tell them both to leave immediately.

There's a quote from Calvin and Hobbes that is especially pertinent in these situations: "There would be a lot more civility in this world if people didn't take it as an invitation to walk all over you."

Getting Stoned

Last night Sam swallowed one of these:

We were surprised because he's never done that before. But hey, sometimes you just get a hankering for a small piece of glass. And in a day or two we'll have a souvenir and an embarrassing story for his future dates.

Things I Don't Regret

Never eating the little dried anchovies that they serve as a side dish in Korea

Memorizing the theme song to Duck Tales

Keeping the stray kittens we found when I was a kid

Being a nerd in school

Skipping my own college graduation ceremony

Tasting pineapple for the first time

Buying that three-piece suit for $40

Knowing nothing about American Idol


What about you?

Anachronisms

Today I heard two phrases which made me wonder if I had traveled back to 1995:
"Whaddup?" and "Peace out."

We Should Probably Have This Looked At

Katie walked into the room the other day to find that Sam had done this to his sister:

That's the bulb from a baster. He discovered a while back that he could squeeze it and make it stick to his own face, and then he decided to share that joy of discovery with his sister. I can't wait to see how things like this play out once she's old enough to defend herself.

Spa-toola or Spa-chula?

I think we have four spatulas in our kitchen ( I admit I failed to properly research this topic by counting, but I can distinctly think of four). I feel a little guilty about it. Do we really need all those spatulas? How many things need to be turned over at once? Should I donate one or two to a third-world country where kids have to grow up in a world without spatulas? We are indeed fortunate to live in a place where these wonderful utensils are in rich supply. The next time you are cooking pancakes, eggs, or grilled cheese sandwiches, take a moment to spare a thought for those who aren't as fortunate.

How many spatulas do you have?

.

What is your favorite punctuation mark and why?

Alarming Clock

It's not just smoke detectors anymore. Somehow a clock in the baby's room has been set to go off at 4 a.m. And it's a weird little clock without any clear method for disarming the alarm, so it took me 10 minutes to turn it off this morning.

Day 10

I have never felt better.

My vision is clearer, the very air
Is sweeter, and there is a
Spring in my
Step.

Dinner last night was tempting, with delicious chocolate cake being
Offered. But I resisted, and
Now I feel free.
Under no circumstances will I find myself
Taking the last eclair.
Success!

So, as difficult as it has been,
Everybody should try to reduce their sugar intake
Now and then.
Don't you think?

Happy with the way it is going, I recommend it to
Everyone. I think this experiment will have a
Lasting effect on my life.
Perhaps you should try it too.

On My Kitchen Counter

A street hockey ball

A tube of super glue

A ball of rubber bands

A travel alarm clock

A lighter for the gas grill

A roll of duct tape

Two watches with dead batteries

A basket of light bulbs

Confession de Mayo

I like to read articles that discuss quantum physics, in the vain hope that someday I'll understand such concepts as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and Bell's inequality. Seriously, how can observing a particle affect its quantum state?

Which reminds me, when I get a cat I'm going to have to name it Schrodinger.

Day 3

There are some Rolos on the kitchen counter. After a couple hours they are audibly calling my name. I refuse to acknowledge the voices, for fear the Skittles will think I'm crazy.

I awoke from a lovely dream of eating Twizzlers this morning to find a shoelace missing from my sneakers. I suspect it was the fun-size Snickers that knocked on the door last night, asking for a glass of water.

The Last Day

While I don't have dreams of drinking Willy Wonka's chocolate river, I still think I have more sugar than I should. And yet if I ever refuse a treat, the person offering notes that I'm not exactly ready for the big time as a sumo wrestler. Still, I don't think I should wait until I am fat before I start to watch my diet. So, for my health (and to prove that I really can stop any time I want to) I am going to go sugar free for the month of May. That means no chocolate, ice cream, cake, soda, or anything else that is a delightful, sugary treat that melts in your mouth and is sooooo sweeeeet... Sorry, I kind of zoned out there for a minute.

Anyway, I'll be sure to chronicle my adventure here. And if my blog entries get even more erratic for a while, blame the oompa-loompas.

Scale

I'm just amused at how small Allison's pinkie fingernails are. Smaller than a grain of rice? How are we supposed to trim that?

More Dreaming Awesomeness

In my dream last night I heard a song by The Offspring that was about beating up the Founding Fathers. All I remember is this line:

Jefferson was a comedian
Let's see if he thinks it's funny when I beat him down

Jefferson was a comedian?

A Matter of a Few Degrees

Katie has a pork chop recipe from her mom that has never turned out the way she would like it. The rice never seems to be cooked all the way. You know how it is when you cook someone else's recipe; it never seems the same. Anyway, last time we were down at their place Katie found out that her mom has been cooking it at a temperature 15 degrees higher than the written recipe stated. So we'll see how it goes tonight.

Bastardosity

*Warning: This is a vituperative post intended for venting purposes only. On the other hand, the rage mixed with the sleep deprivation might be amusing, like mixing prescriptions.

Before the baby was born, I contacted the hospital to get Katie registered, because I didn't want to get blood on the stack of forms I would no doubt have to fill out before they would allow the baby to enter the world. ("Push her back in, he hasn't finished form 863-C yet!") They told us we could prepay for the delivery, which would give us a 25% discount. While that sounded suspiciously good, I said okay, so a few days later we got a bill. The bill assumed a two-day stay, free from complications. With the prepayment discount, it was only about $1,000. I knew we'd still get a bill from the doctor (probably $500 or so for what ended up being a whole 30 minutes of work), but I figured that would take care of most of it.

Today we got a couple bills in the mail, adjusting the actual amount due upward slightly. And by "slightly," I mean eight times the original amount. Among the interesting tidbits is the nursery charge for the baby: $1,452. Guess how long, over the course of two days, the baby was in the nursery. Ready? One hour, so Katie could take a shower. Again, $1452 for one hour. How do I earn $1452 for an hour of watching a baby sleep? That's over $3 million a year, multiplied by the number of babies in the nursery. For that kind of money, I'd even change their poopy diapers.

Now, the good news is that this is probably not the final bill. And if that's the case, I have an entirely different complaint. On the bill is this statement: "Your insurance if listed below has been billed." This doesn't tell me whether they have already paid for anything or not. And the statement, which is nowhere labeled "this is not your bill," conveniently includes an envelope in case I want to go ahead and cut them a check, which would save them the trouble of dealing with the insurance. And once you've paid an insurance company, good luck getting your money back in case the insurance pays out too. Is it any wonder people ignore medical bills when they get four different statements for one procedure?

So I was thinking...

Baby monitor:



Baby monitor:

YES, send me my Pope John Paul II Collector Pin for FREE examination

The people who used to live in this house (who are both dead and therefore unlikely to take offense at this post) get some interesting mail. They get a lot of catalogs from mints and other places that sell (let's face it) useless junk. Today's offering of the Pope pip was especially noteworthy.

Two Other Things

A couple nights ago, I awoke to lights flashing from a police car outside our house. There was also one down at the other end of the street. They were there for a good half hour, with lights flashing, then they drove away. So it was sort of one of those situations I'll always be curious about.

Last night some friends of ours were kind enough to bring us dinner, including spare ribs which I heated up on the grill. When I took them off the grill, I noticed that something hot had dripped out and missed the grease catcher, and some dried leaves under the grill caught fire. Some of the lovely astroturf on our patio may have gotten singed. Sorry, Jer.

Quote from Sam

"Sorry, I can't hear you. I have the net on my head."

Nugget

"The way you see the dawn helps determine the way you see the light."

Last night I dreamed that I said that, and in my dream I felt it was very profound and should be remembered for posterity. One more reason the dream world and the waking world are not the same.

Allison Wonderland

At 2:00 this morning, Katie started having contractions, but only every half hour or so. We packed the hospital bag and decided to wait until they were closer, because they would just send us home, even though we remembered that Sam came quite quickly. At 5:30, the contractions appeared to be no closer, so I hopped in the shower. When I got out 5 minutes later, I found Katie lying on the bed having pretty much continuous contractions.

We didn't get Katie inside the hospital until 6:45 (Props to Jer for his willingness to watch Sam until my parents got to our place). There was no time for an epidural, so the baby was born the old-fashioned way at 7:10. For the stats nuts out there, she was 6 pounds 5 ounces, and 18.5 inches long. We were extremely fortunate in that the doctor was already there for another delivery. So it was definitely a close call (although someone apparently gave birth in the lobby a couple days ago).

After much deliberation, polls and circular discussions, we threw away the previous finalists and decided to name our little redhead Allison.


This hat does a good job of hiding my fauxhawk.

Narrow Your Eyes


I think everyone should have an arch-nemesis. It gives a focal point for the murderous rage we all feel. (The rest of you feel it too, right?) If I had to pick an enemy, it would be a certain neighbor I once had. She was saccharine to the point of insincerity, sanctimonious, and incredibly judgmental. (I am aware of the hypocrisy of my own judgment of her, by the way—please refer to this post for my feelings on the subject.) She was incapable of understanding that anyone may not have grown up in the same perfect family circumstances she did, which led to a lot of inadvertent bragging. And I know that, deep down, she despised me too, even if she could never admit such negative feelings to herself. I wonder, if we were in a movie, which of us would be the supervillain and which the hero.

Who is your enemy?

Everyone's a Critic

On the freeway this morning, I noticed long, thin strings of some sort flying toward me periodically from somewhere up ahead. Eventually one caught itself on my side mirror and came along for the ride to work. When I parked, I discovered that it was a strip of tape from an audio cassette. I guess someone didn't like what they were listening to anymore.

Bravo

I wouldn't have thought mother nature would get into the whole April Fools thing, but non-stop snow for over 24 hours is a pretty good joke.

Faith

We all tend to hold our personal beliefs close, and we defend them fiercely in the face of detractors. We know that, however ridiculous they might seem on the surface, they play an important part in making us who we are. These intensely personal views give us strength of character and form the basis by which we make our decisions. I am, of course, referring to cold remedies/prevention.

Seriously, people really have deeply held beliefs about how to avoid or treat a cold, and they will preach their cure as devoutly as any missionary. My problem with these cures is that it's not possible for me to know how things would have gone without their echinacea and zinc cookies; it would take a large controlled study to evaluate their effectiveness. Over the years I have tried zinc lozenges, nasal rinses, vitamins, and herbal supplements. And I'm not saying they don't work. What I am saying is that I'm lazy, and I'm going to get better eventually regardless.

Frustration

/frus•trashun'/n The feeling experienced when a four-hour car trip is extended by an hour due to a traffic jam on the freeway, and the cause of the delay remains unknown.

Dear Me

One interesting thing about my line of work is that I sometimes get something from myself in the mail. Yesterday, for example, I received a membership packet for our company's organization, with a membership certificate that I had made. I guess I still felt a little bit special.

The Anatomy of Laughter

Yesterday I had Katie show this to Sam (thanks, Rob):



This was his reaction:

"It was so funny it makes my whole body laugh, even my lungs, even my heart, even my stomach, even my skull, even my bones and brain and muscles." Then he added gallbladder to the list as well.

Another Double Standard

ItalicFor some reason, it's socially acceptable for a woman to comment on another woman's appearance:
Wife: That woman is so beautiful. Her skin is so nice, and she has great legs.

Husband: (Knows that if he agrees he's in trouble for looking at another woman, but if he disagrees he's accused of starting a fight, so he feigns a sprained ankle.)




But if a man does the same thing (talking about another man, I mean—talking about another woman is beyond the pale) serious doubts are raised concerning his masculinity:

Husband: That guy is handsome. He's got a nice square jaw and broad shoulders.

Wife:Um, honey? Would you like to go watch a football game or boxing match or something, you know, manly?


You're Welcome

I was going to post a picture of this awesome blood blister I got on my foot while running today, but at the last second I chickened out.

Masculinity

Shameful confession: Today I have had the song "A Whole New World" from Aladdin stuck in my head.

Needlessly Complicated Ways to Kill Someone

• Buy someone a pet milk snake, then later secretly switch it out with a coral snake.
• Feed them ostensibly fat-free food over (that is actually full of fat) over the course of decades.
• Secure for them a high-paying job as an executive. Later, drive the company to financial ruin, then give them a tour of the roof.
• Periodically rub poison oak on their clothes. Over the course of multiple exposures, sensitivity increases. Eventually, they might become sensitive enough to die.
• Lace the edges of every book in their house with poison. Eventually they'll probably get a paper cut.

Precision

On Saturday I participated in the Rex Lee run in Provo. This was the first race I had participated in that distributed timing chips to the runners. The point of the chip is that it just tells the amount of time between the start and finish line, so if there's a big crowd waiting at the beginning you aren't sabotaged by being back in the crowd.

The point is that the organizers of the race were obviously concerned enough with accuracy to distribute the chips. But that attention to detail was somewhat lacking in a more fundamental aspect of the race. I was running the 10k, which, the last time I checked, equals 6.2 miles. The course, however, was a good 2/3 of a mile short. I can understand if it's a little bit off, but the better part of a mile? Is this a product of the same conspiracy that keeps making clothing with labels showing a smaller size than it really is, to make us feel better about ourselves?

Baby Surprise

Thank you all for participating in the name poll, even though little good was accomplished because there was no clear winner. But hey, it's not like we were bound to abide by the results anyway.

In other news, the official due date is around the 26th of April, but we did the math ourselves and came up with a much earlier date, and at her last appointment Katie measured a week ahead of where they expected. So there's a new element of excitement to this now, since basically the whole month of April is a distinct possibility. Looks like we're in for a surprise, at any rate.

Well, I Never!

Why is it that we enjoy round numbers? I imagine there is something in our brains that prefers things to be orderly (even if our bodies never comply by picking up our dirty socks). Case in point: On Saturday I ran a full ten miles for the first time. For some reason that is much more significant to my brain than my previous best, which was 9.5 miles. And since a mile is just an arbitrary distance anyway, it's pretty irrational. But irrationality kind of seems to define us anyway.

Apt

For those of you who watch The Office, yesterday they aired the episode in which Pam had her baby. I missed it, so I went to NBC's website to catch up. And the episode was sponsored by... birth control. Awesome.

Vote Early and Vote Often

I posted a poll with the final 4 baby names we are considering. I apologize for the black text on brown background; it's a widget and I have no idea how to change that.


P. S. For those of you seeing this on Facebook, the poll is on my blog.

Family

Last night I dreamed Hitler was chasing me around in the branches of trees.

Apparently I am afraid that we are somehow related.

Thespian or Sociopath?

Sam and I were playing with some toy guns, and I let him "kill" me. He then went in the other room and informed his mother, saying, "Your husband is dead!"

Unleashed

Have you ever had something you enjoy totally ruined by one bad experience? Say, for example, you can't eat a meal you enjoy because once you threw up afterward, or you can't watch a movie because someone pointed out that the actor you found so attractive looks a lot like your dad. Well, I think I did something like that to someone tonight.

There's a park near me where I have been running lately. It's the nearest place to our house where I can run on dirt, which I feel might help the shin splints I have been getting, so I'm reluctant to give it up. But people are always there with dogs. Lots of dogs. I wouldn't care, but they are never on leashes, despite the posted sign mandating otherwise. Still, most of them are well-behaved, so I generally ignore them.

But tonight someone's over-excited dog jumped up on me and nearly tripped me, so I told the owners (not terribly kindly, but not yelling either) that the dog is supposed to be on a leash. Then I felt guilty, and when I passed them a few minutes I told them I was sorry if I sounded rude. But they just gave me the dirtiest looks I could imagine. Maybe they won't stop going there, but I imagine I still ruined the place for them.

The Beginning

One day when I was in sixth grade, a girl in our class handed me a small Christmas tree decoration she had obviously made. I had a serious crush on her, so I thought she was giving me a Christmas present. What I failed to remember was that I had been put in charge of an ornament contest for our class. It was several weeks before I realized my mistake, but by then it was too late. Mortified, I brought the ornament back to school and hid it behind something so I could "find" it and apologize to her for having lost track of it.

And thus began a lifetime of awkwardness around women.

Did You Know...

... that if you do a google image search for "membership certificate" the first entry is for the International Ghost Hunting Society? Awesome.

Mohenjo-Daro

For most of last week I had that mysterious phrase in my head. It sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't figure out what it was. Eventually I gave in and googled it to see what came up.

I'm fairly certain it's a relic of my world civilizations class in college. So I guess the brain retains more than we think, because I'm pretty sure in the intervening 7 or 8 years I haven't thought of it once. Not that it's unimportant: I mean, after all, "Mohenjo-daro in ancient times was most likely one of the administrative centers of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization." I would be foolish to ignore its historical significance by worrying about such trivial things as feeding my family…

Maybe it's my brain's way of asking if it's okay to delete this old file. Go ahead, brain. Make room for me to memorize more facts about Chuck Norris.

Raisin' Kids

Sam insisted that I take a picture of the "fish" he made out of raisins. He is excellent at finding more creative things to do with his food than eat it.

Oh, you guys. You really nailed him.

Milestone

A while back I predicted it, although I don't know why I thought it would happen so much later. But Katie told me that today was the day Sam first said, "I hate you!"

What Did You Call Me?

I have noticed something puzzling. At some point, every person I know calls me "Mr. Linguist," especially if they want to ask me some sort of language-related question. It's kind of puzzling to me. If I have a question about my computer, I don't call Jer "Mr. IT," so what is it about my particular area of academic study that gives rise to that particular epithet? Answer me that, Mr. or Mrs. Know-it-all.

Image


Why do pirates have birds perched on their shoulders? Is that really going to strike fear in the hearts of their victims?

Child Psychology


"Sam, would you like your hair spiked up?"
"No!"

Would you like horns like a triceratops?"
"Okay!"

Sam Quote

"I'm one of the world's great golfers!"

Non-Prophet

Last night I dreamed that I had several terribly witty blog entries I was writing.

How sad that it did not prove prophetic.

Mitosis

Tonight when I was cooking dinner, I noticed something:



Yeah, I haven't been getting very good sleep lately.

Raising a Question

Is any woman out there satisfied with her eyebrows? Because every woman I have talked to about it (which, I admit, isn't really that many) thinks hers are too thin or too thick.

No!

I was a horribly picky eater growing up. Spending a couple years in Korea helped; now I can eat anything, although many of my dislikes remain. If I had to pick one food I dislike most it would be onions. I will eat whatever if someone is feeding me, but on my own I will usually not eat them.

Now, however vehemently you may claim to not be picky, there is probably at least one food you strongly dislike. What is it?

The Lions Lied!

Today a coworker and I decided to go get some Chinese food. We were going to go to Panda Express, but we spied a buffet with lions out front. Thinking the lions were sure indicators of quality, we decided to go for it and dine at Buffet City.

At first glance, they really had a good variety of food. And there were certainly a lot of people there. (As a side note, it was cute from a purely linguistic perspective to hear the Chinese servers saying “gracias” to the Hispanic patrons.) So we loaded up some plates.

I started with some General Tso’s chicken, usually a good choice. Wow. Terrible. Not just not good; this ventured into the realm of “practical joke” bad. I wanted to look around for a camera. Thinking that bite was a fluke, I tried another and immediately wished I hadn’t.

Well, surely the fried rice would be better. Nope. It tasted like cardboard. And not the fancy stuff, either. This was like the cardboard you might find on the ground in an alley after it has been soaking in garbage water for a while.

After trying a few more entrees (ironically, the stuff that looked like a rat on a stick was one of the more palatable options), I gave up and decided to go for some fruit. They had a nice spread, so I grabbed some cantaloupe, pineapple and, as a back-up, I got some jell-o. And it was a good thing I did, because only the jell-o was edible. I will forever wonder how they actually made pineapple taste bad.

All in all it was an awesomely horrible meal, enjoyable only for the unusual level of entertainment it provided. I couldn’t help but wonder how they stay in business, since nobody could handle that level of gastronomic punishment twice. In the end I decided they must be receiving government funding to develop ways to destroy food, which would prove a powerful weapon to demoralize enemy troops in wartime. Assuming that’s not against the Geneva Convention, I don’t feel too bad about the experience, knowing that in my own small way I helped serve my country.

Scrub-a-dub

On Saturday I got to spend some time cleaning several more-or-less-public bathrooms. While that's never a terribly pleasant prospect, something occurred to me as I scrubbed those toilets. I think I'm a better person because of the janitorial work I have done (which, given my many less-desirable traits, makes you wonder how truly reprehensible I would be if I had never done any at all).

So I think everyone should have to spend time cleaning, and more than just your own home or room. In particular, teenagers should be forced to spend at least a few days cleaning up other people's messes. They might end up as more responsible adults.

I guess I'm officially entering that phase of life during which I complain about young people... There's no going back.

Predictability

Katie has been getting the series Bewitched from Netflix, and Sam occasionally watches episodes with her. Tonight they were watching an episode and, when something strange happened, Sam said, "Maybe it was Samantha's mother."

When a four-year-old can guess your plot line, you know you're not winning any awards for creativity.

Pobody's Nerfect

Today I was talking to my friend Todd and he mentioned someone who was complaining about something stupid. It occurred to me that some people are simply not capable of being satisfied with pretty much anything. I mean, growing up we probably all think our parents are like that, but some people seem to be like that in any situation.

So here's the question: Is it because they just have an urge to make things better (and if that's so, why don't they work on themselves first?), or is it some crazy mental illness? Do you have any examples?

Ice Holes

This morning I went ice fishing with my dad and my uncle. This is pretty much what it consists of:

Sitting, changing bait when the fish don't bite, and sitting again.

It was actually a beautiful day for it, and eventually it warmed up to a tolerable temperature. There were a lot of other people fishing on the lake, and one crazy pilot somewhere in the area who flew a small plane over us at a height of about 50 feet.

Hole, sweet hole.

My perfect record continues (that is, never having caught anything ice fishing). My dad eventually caught one after a couple hours, though. Naturally I forgot to take a picture.

The end

Unexpected quotes from a four-year-old

"I want to bring my carrion."

The Revenge of the Billboard: The Offending

Now that I'm no longer heading home from the south in the evening, I don't get to see Doctor Heidi's tasteless billboard. Imagine my surprise, then, at finding a fresh, even more tacky billboard gracing the freeway on my new route.

This one entreats the insecure women of the world to "turn lemons into lemonade," complete with a couple suggestively placed lemons.

Can I just reiterate that our society is doomed?

Trash of the Titans

I started a new job on Monday. It's been really enjoyable so far, despite the fact that I have a couple million things still to learn. The company has been expanding pretty quickly, especially given current economic realities, and therefore office space and supplies are at a premium.

It's funny to me how in an office environment people have sort of a primal instinct to scavenge, sort of like the kids in Lord of the Flies dressed up in Dockers. I remember seeing people leave a job; soon their empty cubicles were stripped bare of anything useful, not unlike a carcass in the desert (not that I would ever participate in such an activity, however nice that pen holder may be...).

At any rate, I now have a garbage can after four days.