We Spared No Expense


Remember that scene from Jurassic Park when the gamekeeper spots the velociraptor and covers Ellie while she runs for the shed, and then the other raptor swoops in from the side and attacks him? That kind of happened to me last week. Except instead of murderous dinosaurs, it was a virus. And instead of me saying something witty like “Clever girl,” I was mostly saying “COUGH COUGH HACK WHEEZE.” I got this weird chest cold, and I thought I was getting better when it decided to storm the castle, the castle being my head. And so I got to enjoy a second wave of irritating illness. I can only hope this story doesn’t end with a tyrannosaurus defeating the raptors, because that would probably be a flesh-eating virus.

Sneaky Sleep

Sleep is such a strange thing. And for me, it's two strange things, because sleeping at night and sleeping during the day are completely different prospects. For one thing, I can lie down for a nap on my back and go to sleep that way just fine, but at night I have to turn over onto my stomach to go to sleep. Also, napping during the day seems to count double for me. If I sleep for an hour during the day, for example, it can take me an extra two hours to get to sleep that night. One of these days I should try sleeping for 4 hours during the day and try staying up all night, in the interest of science.

Lastly, sleeping at night is unpleasant when I'm sick (which I am right now, so it's on my mind). When I'm sick, I can't wait for the night to be over because I'm uncomfortable, but napping in the day seems to be fine.

Um, I guess that's it.

The end.

In the Long Run


Have you ever accomplished something that you had wanted to for a long time, and it's so unbelievable that you can't really process it? Maybe you finally got rid of the Christmas tree from 1987, or maybe you counted the number of licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop. For me, running a marathon occupied a significant place on my bucket list. Specifically, under the "insanely pointless" heading. But isn't that the best kind of goal?

Also, like most pointless things it took far longer than it should have. I had shin splints, a stress fracture, and a bunch of other little injuries over the last five years. Not to mention my stupid brain. The psychological aspect of the running was arguably the hardest part, and a few times I psyched myself out too much. But on Saturday I finally did it. It was harder just doing it myself (it's always easier to run a race with other people), but it was my main resolution I set for this year so I wanted to do it even if I missed the actual registered races for the year. And I'm reasonably pleased with my time of 3:41. I would love to break 3:30 sometime, so we'll see if I have the guts to try for it again. Meanwhile, I'm that much closer to being prepared to die. Wait, what?








I Give Up

I was going to write a post about how it sucks to run in the dark winter evenings, and how I can choose between being murdered on the creepy dark parkway or hit by a car in our neighborhood. But then I realized I posted something similar last winter. I was set to link back to the other post, when I noticed a spam comment on there. I tried to delete it, but accidentally deleted a real comment from a human being, and I couldn't figure out how to get it back. And it was all downhill from there.

So instead, here's a picture of my cat sleeping on a stuffed gorilla. Enjoy!


The Cat's in the Bag

Last night I went out to the garage to feed the cat before bed, and I noticed the trunk of the car was open, probably because one of the kids was playing with the remote. So I closed it and fed the cat. Oddly, though, he didn't come greet me like he usually does. I knew he was in the garage, because I'd put him out there a little earlier. I looked all around, and started to wonder if I had just put him outside.

Then on a hunch, I opened the trunk, and a bolt of orange lightning flashed out. I'm glad I didn't leave him locked in there all night, to go on a ride to Sam's school in the morning. "Is the engine making a funny noise?"

The Pun War Goes Global

Michael was telling me to submit our last pun war to So Much Pun. And that led to Round 2. We started off with Africa, and then… things kind of went off the rails. Seriously, I LOVE puns, and some of these make absolutely no sense. But it was Friday afternoon. Consider yourself warned.



Michael: Kenya do it? Or do you not want to?

Michael: You Rwanda punch in the face huh?

Joel: Hey, we Congo outside any time you want.

Michael: You really want Togo?

Michael: Uganda lose!

Joel: What’s a Malia with you?

Michael: I’m gunna Steven Senegal your butt!

Joel: And you’re Ghana see what happens when I get Madagascar!

Joel: Oh, I've been meaning to ask you about your car. I was thinking of getting a Sudan like that.

Michael: You and Somalia friends can come at me and I’ll still beat you up!

Joel: In a fight I’m like a Tanzanian devil

Michael: And my car? Harry Potter showed up and used his stupid Rwanda and made it fly away.

Michael: Thats Libyating

Joel: Wow, Uganda go with that pun?

Michael: OH MAN, you Guinea get it!

Joel: I’ll tell Bill to grab his Cameroon, to take pictures of your black eyes.

Michael: Imma kick Djibouti and Bill’s Cameroon

Joel: Don't Gambia with your life like this. It’s not worth it.

Michael: I Congo through with it if I want. It’s my life.

Michael: I Benin the back all day just ready to strike.

Joel: You ain’t nothin but a little Chad when it comes to fighting.

Michael: There is Norway you know how good of a fighter I am

Michael: I’m gunna Russia so fast you won’t know what hit you

Joel: What kinda Angola you workin, changing continents like that?

Michael: Serbia right

Michael: Ukraine cry all you want

Joel: I've got some New Zealand I'm totally going to win!

Michael: Italy a long time before you ever win a fight

Joel: You're such a Laos for saying that.

Michael: I Andorra your spunk, but that was mean

Joel: That's what you get. Frankly, I’m starting to wonder if Uruguay. Oh, yes. I went there.

Michael: You Singapore song there, mate.

Michael: Here you are, all Sweden you go and say something like that

Joel: I wouldn’t want to Austriacize you, though.

Michael: You dishonor your Suriname

Joel: I'm sorry this has been such a Spainful conversation for you.

Michael: Tuvalu nothing anymore

Joel: There’s Norway you're going to win.

Michael: You want Tibet?

Michael: You and Bill are a Paraguays

Joel: That's Chile, man

Michael: Mon, golia home and just stay there

Michael: I'm sorry. I feel like I have been very Malaysias

Michael: We should be nice and get donuts, Lesotho's want to go with us too...then they can

Joel: Yemen, that’s a good idea

Joel: Something with a lot of Greece

Michael: Hmmm....all that talk is Jamaican me hungry

Michael: As long as we don’t get all Comoros after

Joel: Or Iceland cream

Michael: Or Aruba'n sandwich

Michael: I can Belize we have been talking like this for so long

Joel: If Italy the number of puns, I'm sure it would be huge.

Michael: You are a smart Guyana know how to count to!

Joel: You're too kind. Would you like a Tunisia sandwich?

Michael: I Guatemalow if you wanna make smores

Michael: We really have Guam off the edge with this whole conversation

Joel: I've got some ribbon over here. You should Taiwan in your hair. You'd look so pretty.

Michael: You are Guinea make me mad again

Michael: Iran from ribbon my whole life. Maybe I should try it

Michael: We could go get shakes or Malta's

Michael: We can take a Poland see what people want to do

Joel: On second thought, I'm not Hungary.

Michael: Syrias?

Michael: Ukraine tell me sooner next time.
Joel: Well, it’s really a money issue. I Singapore man’s song.

Joel: And don’t mention how bad that last pun was, or I’ll Estonia.

Michael: I will hit you with Iraq before you hit me

Joel: Denmark it off of my final score.

Michael: I will, and will play you a Qatar song as well

Joel: I didn't know you played, but I Bolivia

Michael: Peeru you stink

Joel: It’s too hot in my Cubacle


The Pumpkin King. And Queen. And Prince.

In hopes of our pumpkins not melting into gross, moldy puddles before the holiday itself, we waited until last night to carve them. Sam was very excited to really carve one himself for the first time, tempered quickly by the gooey, smelly reality that is cleaning the pumpkin out. Also, the constantly bending and breaking carving implements is a tradition. I am going to buy this for next year.

Anyway, on to the results! Sam wanted to use a stencil that came with our carving kit, but it proved to be rather complicated, so he ended up designing his own scary face that I helped him implement. Behold, look on his work and despair!


To even gaze upon this visage is to stare into the depths of madness. And the madness stares back.

Katie had a small pumpkin given to her by her visiting teachers, and carved an appropriately cute face on it:


Wh-what are you doing with that toaster oven, little pumpkin? Stay back! Back, I say!

Moving on. I decided on something a little less traditional. The photo is a little fuzzy, but surely that's just because it is dematerializing:


Yes, that is the TARDIS. No, you can't buy it. It is going on my porch for the enjoyment of all. Yes, I am a great humanitarian.

It's over!

*Special shout-out to Allison, the Pumpkin Princess, who was very interested and wanted to help us, but was not quite ready to tackle a pumpkin of her own.

Dark and Metric

On Saturday Sam woke up with a severe sore throat and a fever. I decided to take him to the nearby Instacare, which was fortunate because he was diagnosed with strep throat. When I went to the pharmacy to fill his prescription, I was getting the dosage details from the pharmacist when I inadvertently created a new unit of measure: the teablespoon.

And it was at that moment that I decided to join the dark side and embrace the metric system. So I burned a yardstick as an offering to the gods Meter and Liter. Then I changed the settings on various electronic devices to display temperatures in Celsius, and the conversion was complete, down to the last gram of my being.

Cookie Monsters

Last night we made and decorated Halloween cookies. Let's see what we ended up with:

Here we have a nice, normal pumpkin. I think Katie did that one. Then there's the evil cat with red eyes that I did, and a witch complete with nasty (licorice) hairs on her chin and her nose. I'm pretty proud of the hat with the buckle, though. Moving on.


Here we have a fanged pumpkin, I guess, and a... I have no idea what that other one is. I think it's safe to say the kids were involved there, though.


Here are a couple of the cookies after Allison got to them, dipping her finger in the frosting and licking it.


Here is my angry ghost. He's a ghost of a star-bellied Sneetch, as if it weren't obvious. And a house that has a ghost in the window, blood oozing from under the door, and creepy eyes to let you know that to enter this house is to welcome death.


And here's a bat that Sam went to town on. I like it. If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing.

Bonus picture!


This insanely huge tumbleweed ended up in our yard last night. Presumably from Texas.









Slytherin

"Well," I thought as I picked up the staple gun, "At least this will make an interesting blog post." Such was my thought at 3:30 this morning.

Perhaps twenty minutes earlier, I had been awakened by a noise in the room. I stumbled out of bed and wandered over to the door in the dark, to see what it was. It sounded like something rubbing against a cardboard box. And as I tried to focus in the dim light cast by the nightlight out in the hall, I saw something moving across the top of a small box next to the wall.

"Is that... Monty?"

Monty, of course, is our pet ball python. We've had him for three years now, and he did escape once before, turning up behind the dresser in Allison's room. So I picked him up and returned him to his cage, placing a few books on top of the lid. I wasn't exactly sure how he had gotten out, but there were some gaps between the wooden frame of the lid and the screening that it held. I tried to return to bed, but I realized after a few minutes that I'd rather fix the problem now.

So I took the lid downstairs, along with Monty so I knew where he was, and I stapled the mesh to the frame in a whole lot of places. By then, of course, Monty had gotten up into the recliner, which has a motor and all sorts of nooks and crannies inside where he can hide. It was impossible to get him out of there (and believe me, I tried), so I had to wait a while before he decided to keep exploring somewhere else, and finally got him and the reinforced lid back upstairs. I have no idea how long it took me to get back to sleep, but it felt like it was right before my alarm went off.

I guess what I'm saying is, "Free snake to a good home."

Mad Cow

On the Jordan River Parkway in Lehi there is a section that is fenced on both sides, where cows are often out grazing (privately, I call this stretch the Bovine Highlands). Last night while running I happened upon a young cow standing outside the fence on the path. I didn't see a break in the fence or any other indication of how it had gotten out. I decided to ignore it and run by. But my presence spooked it, and it started running in front of me. I was nearly at the point where I would turn around, so I decided it wouldn't hurt for it to jog a couple hundred yards.


And that was when I heard the upset "Moo!" behind me. Mom was coming.

Now, fortunately Mom was still behind the fence. But can a couple strands of barbed wire really stop 2,000 pounds of angry beef? Fortunately, I didn't find out. I turned around a little early and ran past the mom without incident. But for a minute there I was a little nervous, and visions of all the burgers I've eaten in my life made me wonder if I were about to become the victim of a little payback, Bossy style.

Horde of the Flies

Okay, I had to write this post just to use that title. Seriously, though, in our neighborhood there's been a crazy plague of houseflies lately. When I go out in the morning there are dozens in the garage, and they all end up getting in the house. Last night I hunted down 8 of them. I try to snatch them in my hand and just throw them out the door, but the especially tricky and persistent ones get swatted with this:


It is awesome, like an electric tennis racket that makes the most satisfying ZAP sound when you get one.

Saturday Overload

Here's my Saturday, because I'm sure you all care. But sometimes I think it's fun to see the daily goings-on in someone else's life.

Get up at 7:30 and go running. The weather was perfect and I was feeling good, so I made it 16 miles, which is about the max I will do without bringing any water or energy gel thingies. Then I had breakfast when I got back. For some reason, I crave plain oatmeal after a long run (with a big scoop of brown sugar, at least—I mean, I'm not a monster).

Then Allison was begging us to go see the fish at the store. So she and I went to the pet store and we got some  frozen rats for Monty, and Allison oohed and aahed at all the animals, even though she has been there many times. When we got home, Sam insisted that I play Battleship with him. If I won, I would be allowed to finally go take a shower, and if he won we'd have to play something else. He got frustrated halfway through the game and quit, so I got to go shower.

Katie wanted a chance to exercise as well, so I sent her on a bike ride for an hour. Allison was napping at that point, and I decided to put up a shelf in the garage to clean things up a bit. It actually went fairly well, and, feeling satisfied with my handiness that day, I tackled another project I had been wanting to do. I had a small TV stand that is really old, but I took it apart and repurposed it to make a shoe organizer for our kitchen, because the back door is usually blocked by shoes. It could probably use a coat of paint to look decent, but I was proud of myself for sticking with it despite my previously recorded handicap in the woodworking department. Meanwhile, Katie made dinner. She had spent much of the day cleaning the house, and was understandably tired as well.

After that, I don't really remember anything. I guess we eventually got the kids to sleep and collapsed into bed ourselves. But it was a nice day.

Crushed!


A couple weeks ago, we had some new neighbors move in next door. They have a girl Sam’s age, and we thought it would be nice to have someone his age live so close, since he usually ends up playing with younger kids. I noticed that he seems to act differently around this girl than other people, though, and I decided he must have his first crush. This was further substantiated when he told me that he wrote a note for her yesterday, which said, “I hope to see you again soon. I like you. From, Samuel.” 

Awwwwwww, my little man is growing up. No doubt he'll be just as smooth with the ladies as his dad. 

(Good thing I don't have to keep a straight face when typing.)

Cool Times

Last week our air conditioning suddenly stopped working. The thermostat indicated that the AC unit just needed a few minutes to cool off, but it wouldn't ever kick on again. Wondering if it was the thermostat, I went and borrowed the neighbor's (the same model) and stuck it on my wall. that didn't work either. So I tried to turn on the heat instead of the AC. Still no dice.

I was reluctant to call a repairman, because I just knew it would be some stupidly simple fix. So I talked with several people, including Jer, who realized that the problem must be with the blower fan in the furnace, which is used both for heating and AC. I poked around in the furnace until I found what looked like the blower reset switch and pushed it. Bam, working AC!

Still, I didn't think about what had originally caused the fan to struggle enough that it reset. So later that night the AC started acting funny again, as though it were struggling to come on. And I finally took a look at our furnace filters. Yeah. It was like trying to breathe through a pinched straw. So I went to Walmart at 10:30 for furnace filters, and this time bought enough for a few months. Let's hope I learned my lesson enough to save me expensive repairs int he future.

The Cat's in the Bag

On Sunday we were out on a walk. And by "walk," I mean that I was pushing Allison on her tricycle, and she steered us to the park. When we came home, there was a strange brown and white cat leaving our garage. This isn't terribly unusual, because Dortmunder lives in there and other animals get in sometimes and help themselves to his food. This cat ran out back and hid under our porch.

I usually try to scare cats away so I don't have to feed a community of strays, but this time I decided to get some cat treats and see if we could get it to come out. As it did, we noticed that it only had one ear. that seemed normal for a stray, so I didn't think anything of it, until Katie came back and said that there was a notice taped to the mailbox that someone had lost a one-eared, brown-and-white cat. She went and got their number, and we called the guy. And yes, oddly enough, the one-eared, brown-and-white cat we found was the same one-eared, brown and white cat they had lost. What are the odds? And as it turns out, the ear was just a deformity from birth, rather than the result of an awesome cat street fight. A couple days later the family brought us some cookies and an awesome card the kids made, thanking us for finding him.

So there you have it. Never say I don't write heartwarming stories on my blog.

I Wood If I Could

I've always had a fascination with woodworking. The idea of taking raw materials to create something useful is very appealing, and for years I've thought about how great it would be to have such a useful skill.

Then I tried it.

I wanted to build this great bookcase that looks like the TARDIS that I saw online. I made a plan, and I started working on the base one day, but I quickly realized that I was in over my head. And the other day I made a primitive shelf that I mounted in the closet under the stairs to hold our modem and router. That ended up ugly as well, but it's out of sight so I kept it.

The way I figure it, there are two problems. One, I don't have the right kind of tools. A jigsaw isn't great for long, straight cuts, and I never know what kind of screws or fasteners to use. And nice tools are really expensive. But the real problem, I'm sure, is that I need more experience. So, as foolish as I feel, I think I'll keep working on these silly projects and see if I get better over time. In the meantime, if anyone needs a good laugh, come have a look in my closet.

No, I won't be posting any photos just yet.

Monkeys!


Last night I dreamed that a friend (I can’t remember who, unfortunately) gave us a pair of howler monkeys as pets.



From Wikipedia:
Howler monkeys are widely considered to be the loudest land animal. According to Guinness Book of World Records, their vocalizations can be heard clearly for 20 mi (32 km).
“While seldom aggressive, howler monkeys do not take well to captivity and are of surly disposition…”

I was very nervous about having monkeys around, and resolved to take them back to the pet store.

Impending Fall

Driving in to work this morning I noticed for the first time that the leaves in the mountains are changing color. I think it's a little early this year, like the trees are thinking, "Well, we didn't get any rain at all this year. Might as well pack it up and wait for next spring."

It's always a little sad, though, when summer is on its way out. It feels like a friend is leaving for several months. While I recognize the importance of having colder weather to appreciate the warmth when it's here, and snow is pretty between November 1 and January 1, I'd still like winter to only last about that two-month period. But I'm getting a little ahead of myself, because it will still probably be hot until mid-October, at least.

Here's to you, summer. Aside from all the crazy fires and complete lack of rain, you were a good one.

There's No Substitute

Last year in kindergarten, Sam's teacher was pregnant at the beginning of the year. She left around Thanksgiving to have the babies (twins), with plans to be back for the new year. Then, when she was gone, she decided to stay home with the kids, so he ended up having the substitute for the rest of the year.

Fast forward to yesterday. We went to back-to-school night and met his teacher... who is pregnant and apparently due "in August." She swears she is coming back after, but her sister is going to be the substitute in the meantime.

I guess what I'm saying is, if you're trying to get pregnant, you have one year to get a job as a second-grade teacher at Sam's school.

Spilling the Beans


Imagine going in to McDonald’s and ordering a beef patty that weighs exactly 3.7 ounces, cooked until the internal temperature is 142.3 degrees, then is served with 2/3 of a slice of whole-milk American cheese, on a whole-wheat bun that is toasted at 400 degrees for 90 seconds, with 1 tablespoon of ketchup and one teaspoon  of mustard, and two slices of dill pickle exactly 3 mm thick placed 1 cm apart on the bun.

That’s how I view people who drink coffee from places like Starbucks. A coworker who wishes to remain anonymous came in this morning livid that they had gotten her order egregiously wrong. It was not the hazelnut latte with half a pump of syrup served at 170 degrees she ordered, but some super-sweet cinnamon vileness. Not being a coffee drinker, the fast food analogy is the closest I can come to understanding the specificity of these preferences.

Flour Power

Last night I dreamed that for some reason the new trend was stripping mostly naked, watering yourself down, and covering yourself with flour. I remember taking a long time to meticulously coat myself like a piece of soon-to-be-fried chicken, and have someone take my picture. I think people were posting the pics online, because why else would we do that kind of thing?

What Fun Is

This year I decided to continue an old tradition from my childhood. We used to go to Lagoon every year on my birthday, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to take the kids. We had Katie's brother and his girlfriend come with us, to help take turns with the kids so we could all go on some rides. Sam had been dying to ride a roller coaster, so we headed right for the old white one. He was pretty terrified during the ride, but thought it was great afterward. He felt the same way about the scary rides, mostly keeping his eyes closed. We all really enjoyed the train ride, and Rattlesnake Rapids. Katie had never been to Lagoon either, having only Disneyland as a point of comparison, but she really enjoyed it, although she didn't want to go on the really crazy rides. I enjoyed my old favorites like the Colossus and the Rocket, and the new coasters they added recently were great, especially Wicked. But the real surprise of the day was Allison. Out two-year-old is apparently quite the daredevil. Whereas Sam was asking if every ride would give him "that stomach feeling," Allison had this expression on the kid rides:


But on this ride, she was laughing.


Please excuse the 90-degree angle on the video. The point is that it's a fairly fast ride for a two-year-old to be on.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun. We were there from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., so we really made a day of it. It was probably the most fun I've had on my birthday since I was a teenager.

Liar!

Someone just called me and asked for a person named Kim. Not knowing anyone by that name, I informed the person that she had the wrong number. Her response: "Ooooookaaaaay..." in a suspicious tone. She didn't seem to believe me. It's odd, now that most of our calls are made by speed dialing contacts stored in our phones, that wrong numbers are almost unfathomable for us. Calm down, lady. Try it again, and if I end up answering, I'll look around and see if I can find a Kim for you. Maybe I'm the one who's wrong.

Scary Morning

Imagine this. You're sitting quietly at the table eating breakfast in the morning, all alone. The house is dim and silent. Then all of a sudden you hear a thump. You listen for a moment, then forget about it. But then, another thump, sightly louder. And it continues every few seconds, and now you can tell it's getting closer. Thump, thump, thump. An finally, slowly emerging from around the corner is the face of your two-year-old, who just came down the stairs. I was pretty sure it was her, but it was still surprisingly creepy.

I Love You, You Love Me...

I was visiting with some friends last night, and we discussed how sometimes we do things for them and sometimes they do things for us. It occurred to me how much of a give-and-take relationship friendship is. True friendship is not about keeping score to see who has done more for the other, or that you owe or are owed something, but it’s about giving what is needed when it is needed. It’s similar to marriage in that way. Then this morning I thought of a comparison that seemed apt: Friendship is the give-a-penny/take-a-penny tray of life. Sometimes you need help moving something heavy, and sometimes your friend needs a ride to the airport. When we give because we care about people, rather than from a self-centered desire for them to owe us a debt, we become more than we were. This isn’t particularly profound, or even original, but it’s been on my mind.

Whuh?

Tonight we went over to help our good friends next door load up a few things as they get ready to move out. As we went back and forth, I noticed some other neighbors a few doors down wander over to our yard. I finally went to talk to them, and they said they had noticed that the two-year-old who lives on the other side of us had been wandering around outside unsupervised. And, as it turns out, he had opened our front door and gone in our house, where we found him stark naked. I grabbed him, and we took him over to his house, where the only person who greeted us was his seven-year-old brother. I don't have a clue where the parents were, and I was so bewildered by the situation that I didn't think to ask. But I was tempted to call the police, as this is not the first time he has been wandering around outside without an adult.



Better Never than Late

Allison turned two in April, and she didn't immediately become terrible. Unfortunately, however, that side has come out in the last few days. I'd forgotten how two-year-old tantrums were.

On the other hand, there's this video of her acting like a cat:



So I call that a net win.

It's Good to Be Back

Well, the other site was fun, but I like the simplicity of Blogger. Plus, I've actually been posting little things on Facebook that I might normally put here. But Blogger plays nicer with Facebook anyway, so I can more easily post in both places. The result is that I hope to be posting a little more often, for all two of you who might read this. Stay tuned!

Sunshine Blues

I love the summer. Love, love, love it. I love the warm evenings, and I even love the scorching hot days. I love having it light until after 9:00. But I always get a little sad the last week of June, because the solstice is over and the days are starting to get shorter again. It's irrational, because it takes a while before it's noticeable, but I do mourn the peak of summer slipping away.

Auto Draft

Attaboy, Brain!

I like to drink water at work. But our dispenser needs to be cleaned, and the water coming out tastes horrible. And because I’m used to the filtered stuff, tap water tastes like chlorinated pool water to me now. But last night I had a dream that I took a bottle that I have in my desk drawer and filled it at home from our filtered fridge water, bringing it in every day. Yay, brain!

Revenge of the Pathogen

All right, this is hilarious. I wasn’t sure whether to add this to the last post or what, but I think it’s funny enough for its own. Here I have been mentally preparing myself for weeks of illness, sitting around all “Woe is me.” Then once I got healthy I would have to take weeks to slowly regain any semblance of fitness so I could start running again.

Then this morning I get a call from the doctor’s office, informing me that I in fact have salmonella poisoning. It wasn’t the crohn’s. It was never the crohn’s. It was freaking bacteria. I either screwed up cooking some meat or eggs, or someplace I ate made me sick. A few days before I got sick, I went out to this little burger place with a friend at work, and he also got sick last week, which we assumed was unrelated. But now he’s waiting for test results from the doctor, and we’ll see what they have to say.

Is this the first time anyone has ever been happy to hear they have a thriving colony of malicious bacteria in their gut?

Ooooooooh, I'm Gonna Eat and Eat and Eat and Eat and Eat until I Die

Thoughts going through my mind as I prepared to write this:


  • I can literally eat anything I want and still lose weight. Some people would kill for that ability. Can that be a superpower?

  • Six weeks ago I could run for more than three hours. Now, if I stand for more than five minutes I get light-headed. That’s pretty humbling.

  • Whoa, that’s a little bit dramatic. It’s not like I’m dying. Then again, if I lived a hundred years ago, I would be.

  • (I actually posted this on Facebook) I feel like I swallowed a tiny karate class, and they've been pummeling my insides for the last two days.


Well, it appears that the moment I have dreaded for the past six years has finally come. The infamous Crohn’s disease has apparently decided to rear its ugly head again in my life. I know I’m far luckier than most people who have had to deal with it, since I went so long with no symptoms. For the first couple years I was worried if I ever had even the tiniest pain in the gut, but then I took my recovery for granted. I started running after I recovered, and I thought that might have been helping to keep me healthy. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t ever get sick again (from this, I mean—duh).

The first time I got sick was early in 2006. I was in my last semester at school, working two jobs, and Sam was just a few months old. In the midst of trying to get things wrapped up for graduation, I was trying to figure out how to be a dad, and find a grownup job out in the real world. I first went to the BYU health center, by which point I weighed 118 lbs (though to be fair, I only weighed 130 to begin with at the time). The first doctor made a preliminary diagnosis of celiac disease (but being a bit of a pretentious prick, he called it “gluten-sensitive enteropathy, or non-tropical sprue”). He referred me to another doc for further testing. Doctors’ schedules being what they are, it took almost two months and a couple more doctors to nail down a diagnosis and begin treatment. In the meantime, I was very blessed. I finished school, found a job, and made preparations for us to move up to Salt Lake. I got better within a couple months, and things were good.

Then a couple months ago I started feeling some minor symptoms again, while I was training for the marathon. I hadn’t been taking my maintenance medicine very well (after all, I had never been sick again, and it’s hard to spend over $100 a month on something you can’t be absolutely sure is necessary). I started taking it again, but I messed up my knee and missed the race anyway. Then, just as I was getting back into the running and started thinking about a possible September marathon instead, this hit me suddenly last weekend. We’re still waiting for some test results to be sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s my old arch-nemesis come back. I imagine this is a similar (but a million times less intense) feeling to what cancer survivors feel. Again: I am not claiming I understand what it is like to have cancer. But it is a feeling of having a disease stalking you that could strike again at any time. Then again, that’s really possible for all of us, isn’t it? At least my monster has a face.

*Bonus point if you recognize the quote in the title.

Fat Fat Fat Fat Fat Fat Fat Fat

Okay, let’s talk about how we’re all tremendously fat and unhealthy. Everyone wants a magic diet pill to lose weight. But there are multiple ways to attack the problem. Losing weight is just what you’d need to do after the damage was done. What about making healthy foods taste better? I’d love to eat mostly vegetables, but I’m no good at cooking them, and they will never be as delicious as a steak with a milkshake chaser. So why can’t science make broccoli taste like chocolate? Science, get on that. Or we could go one step further and modify our brains to like healthy food, instead of just sweet, sweet, sugar. That would be even more efficient. I’m sure if we took some of the billions of dollars spent on treating obesity and related health problems and put it toward a little brain tinkering, we could figure something out. Scientists, suck in that gut so you can reach the test tubes!

Tinker with Your Ticker

Last night I dreamed that some doctor told me I needed heart surgery. But I couldn't get anybody to tell me specifically what was wrong. I was very upset.

Fishin' Accomplished

On Memorial Day, my dad and I took Sam up to a lake for his first real fishing experience. And on his first cast, he caught this little guy:

[caption id="attachment_1838" align="aligncenter" width="523" caption="I defy you to find a more patriotic image than this."][/caption]




In the end that was the only fish we took home. There were tons of little fish biting, but they were too small to keep. Still, our goal was to get Sam a fish, so that was accomplished.

Now, here’s another funny story. Katie had a rough experience at the grocery store on Friday. She locked Allison in the car in the parking lot, but fortunately an off-duty policeman helped her unlock the door. Then, when she got home, she saw that a gallon of milk had broken open and spilled all over the trunk. When I got home, she told me what had happened and said that she had cleaned it up as best she could. Knowing her superhuman cleaning abilities, I didn’t think about it much anymore. The car smelled bad, but I figured it would go away.

Then on Sunday we had some friends over for dinner, and we were outside talking when all of a sudden I realized that there was a problem. I opened the trunk and found that Katie hadn’t thought about the spare tire compartment. I opened it up and found a lovely little reservoir of two-day-old milk that would have rotted throughout the summer. But we eventually managed to get that cleaned up as well, and now I’m hoping the smell won’t last forever.

Rattle Stomp Rattle

I have a very comfortable pair of shoes that I wear even though they have gotten a bit old and ragged. The heels have worn down to the point at which rocks can get into those little air pockets in the sole:

The weird thing is that rocks get into your shoe that are way bigger than the little holes should ever be able to accommodate. But they rattle all around when I walk, making it sound like I'm carrying a ton of Yapese change. So the only way to get them out is to enlarge the holes even more, allowing yet more rocks to get in. It truly is a vicious cycle.

Schadenfreude

I'm not looking up the spelling to see if it's correct. But sometimes it’s fun to take pleasure in others’ misery. What I really want to see, just once, is one of the people driving like an idiot on the freeway every day actually get pulled over. I've never seen it yet. Or how about someone I know, whom I overheard talking about how easy it is to know where the police will be, and how he can’t understand how anyone gets pulled over? Can’t he get pulled over, please?

But that’s my thing. What kind of misery would you like to see others suffer?

You Snooze, You Lose

I woke up at 6:20 this morning, decided "Nope," and set my alarm for 20 minutes later. Then I had a dream in which I lost Allison in a huge, crowded church building and was running around frantically, trying to find her. I was even crying in the dream. Everyone else was being spectacularly unhelpful, and finally I went into the women's bathroom (which was an enormous open room in which the stalls lines the wall and had velvet curtains instead of doors), and she was in there, just fine.

The lesson here is that the snooze button is dangerous.

Too Tired to Think of a Title

I feel like I've been complaining a lot lately. So let's get started.

Last weekend we went down to southern Utah for the wedding of Katie's sister. On Friday we packed up the car, got in and... the car wouldn't start. Eventually we sorted out that the battery had been drained the night before, when Katie had the doors open for a long time vacuuming it. So I got it  jump-started it, and we were off.

Everything went fine until that night, when we finally got the kids to sleep in the motel room (which is always a challenge). I didn't get much sleep because I was in the bed with Allison, and she rolled around all night. In addition, there was a screaming baby in the room next to us that was apparently up all night too. The next day we discovered that it was in fact screaming triplets. And the people kept their door open all morning to more effectively share the joy with the world.

The wedding itself went fine, and they had a nice outdoor reception with beautiful weather. But that day Sam's ear started hurting, and by that evening it was really causing him problems. We got about an hour of sleep before he woke up screaming. We had dosed him with acetaminophen before bed, and not enough time had passed to give him more, so after being up for a while I eventually had to make a pharmacy run at about 2:30 for some ibuprofen. After that we managed another 3 hours or so, until he was up screaming again.

And so Mother's Day dawned with us even more tired. We rushed to get checked out of our room, and finally found an Instacare that was open. The doctor saw how bad his ear infection was (it in fact started draining that morning) and prescribed a couple of antibiotics and Tylenol with codeine. The pharmacy down there was unable to get our insurance to work, so I paid the cash price for the Tylenol, figuring we could fill the antibiotic later in  the day near home.

We said goodbye to the family and headed north again, until we had a tire blow out on the freeway about 25 miles away from Beaver. (The funny thing was, I had been feeling pessimistic earlier and had told Katie that I was sure the car would break down.) So I got to change a tire on the freeway with the cars whizzing by a couple feet from me. (It was one of the 80 mph test areas, naturally. And I learned something interesting. You know how they say when you're up high you should avoid looking down? Well, don't look back at freeway traffic speeding by your head, either.) The spare tire got us to the shop in Beaver minutes before they closed (shout-out to Katie's brother Carlin, who made some calls and found an open shop while I changed the tire). $400 later (another of the tires was close to going, and it had a nail in it too) we were on our way again.

We had planned to go up to Salt Lake for dinner with my parents, but it was 8:00 before we got to Lehi, so that wasn't going to happen. And neither was the last pharmacy run for Sam, which will have to wait for tomorrow. And now I'm going to bed.

I'm torn between gratitude that we survived, and frustration at how generally crappy the weekend was. I think I'll go the "let's forget this experience ever happened, and never speak of it again" route.

A couple other details I forgot: The tire blowout shredded our bumper and destroyed the brake light. On Mythbusters they showed how a tire blowout from a truck in front of you could go right through your windshield and kill you. Also, Sam slept all day in the car, so he wasn't tired at bedtime. Katie very kindly allowed me to go to bed so I could get up for work this morning (insert comment about how terrible I am for allowing her to do that on Mother's Day).

A Toadal Surprise

We spent the weekend in southern Utah, because Katie's sister got married. In the sprinkler valve box at her parents' house, we found a little surprise.

None of the pictures I took turned out very clear, but this is a little toad. It was a cute, fat little thing.


And another cute, fat little thing:

Oh, I'm just kidding. But it made for a nice segue.

Wait, Wait, Wait

One of the advantages of getting a bit older is that waiting a few weeks for something doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Even 7 or 8 years ago, if I had to wait for something, it was a horrible, long ordeal. And now, while I can’t say I am 100% patient and calm, it’s less of a big deal. Possibly because my memory is also less sharp than it once was, so it’s easier to forget that I’m waiting for something anyway.

Also, when I was a teenager my friends told me I sounded like a duck when I said, "Wait, wait, wait."

Saturday Is a Special Day

Are you ready to laugh? At me, I mean.

Last year I got our sprinklers all in, except for our little flower bed in the front. I had stubbed it with a pipe so all I needed to add was a drip line for the plants. Then this spring I decided that I needed an extra part to make it work (a pressure reducer, if you care, so all that pressure going through one tiny area wouldn’t blow out the pipe). So I went and got the parts, which required several fittings to make the right pipes connect. Then on Saturday I had to dig a short distance from the flower bed from the main line and add the fittings there. I hooked everything back up, turned on the water, and… nothing happened. I realized that I had left the valve closed at the main box. I went back to open it and discovered that I had put the pressure reducer on that end of the line last year. So I wasted the money on the parts, I wasted the time on the digging, and then the drip line didn’t seem to be working anyway.

I called my dad, and he suggested that having the extra pressure reducer on the line was maybe making the pressure too low for the water to bleed out of the drip line. So I cut it off and hooked things up again. Still no dice. I knew it had water in the line, but nothing was happening. After some discussion with neighbors, it appears that line doesn’t actually drip the water, but you have to add some little drip lines or whatever right at the location of the plants themselves, for things to work (this was not explained by the guys who sold me the parts). So in the end I bought parts I didn’t need, wasted time hooking them up, and then didn’t even get the parts that I did need. And it was all done on the day I was supposed to be running the marathon but couldn’t because I messed up my knee. Happy day!

Get Rich Quick

Okay, in terms of "the good of humanity" and all that, it's important to cure diseases like cancer. But if you want to help improve the quality of life for a larger portion of the population, and invigorate the economy, someone please figure out a way to safely tranquilize children at night. Whoever does that will become a billionaire overnight, I guarantee.

Spice

I love the variety of life. It’s fascinating to me how many different ways there are to keep me from sleeping at night. Sometimes I’m sick, and there’s an endless variety of symptoms that can keep me awake, from a cough to congestion to a sunburn. Sometimes, as was the case last night, I’m perfectly fine but everyone else is sick and the kids wake up every ten minutes. Sometimes they just don’t go to bed until really late. Sometimes the neighbors’ dogs won’t shut up. Sometimes there’s a thunderstorm. Sometimes I can’t get the temperature right. I really am amazed at the sheer number of possibilities, and sometimes I just laugh at whatever it is on a given day.

My Latest Idea

I'm sure this exists, but I'm afraid to verify it. I'd like some measuring spoons with flat bottoms, so I can rest them on the counter, pour in the vanilla, and leave it there until I'm ready to pour it in.

Whiney Whiney

Saturday was a weird day. I ran 17 miles in the morning. Then I mowed our lawn for the first time ever, which was kind of an interesting experience after all the work I put into things. Then I took Sam to the park for a while.

Then I had a bunch of bricks I bought to edge the flower bed in the front yard, but I decided to take them back and get something different. So I loaded them up and went back to the store. Then I had to load up the new blocks, of which I needed twice as many. Then I had to try to push that huge cart with 400 pounds of stone on it, and it was unbelievably hard. So I had to push it around the store and then out to the car. Then I had to load them in the car (I nearly bottomed it out, which I’ve never done before), then I had to unload them again when I got home. Then I spent a while leveling the dirt and laying out the stones. I honestly don’t know when I’ve been that tired.

Happy Plot Conflict to You

Last week I was reading this book to Sam, and he made a brilliant observation.



I've pointed out before that Sam is surprisingly insightful for a six-year-old. In this case, he very intelligently pointed out that, "There's no problem in this story." He recognized that there's no conflict in this book, unlike most books that we read. I probably would have been in high school (if not college) before I could have made that observation. The kid is pretty amazing.

Three Dreams for the Price of One

Last night I dreamed that I was in a Chinese restaurant. It was kind of like a four-sided deli counter, with a space in the middle that was filled with water and a large alligator. I remember it was very aggressive. I was with several people who had ordered and were waiting for me. I was trying to decide but couldn’t. I asked the man working the counter where the sign was that had listed the daily lunch specials, because apparently I had been there before. He showed me the sign, which was on the opposite side of the restaurant from where I remembered it. The special that day apparently involved whole ducklings served in some kind of sauce or soup. I decided to pass.

Then, at a different point in the dream I had a pet tiger. It was more or less tame, but I was still very nervous around it and was trying to figure out how to get rid of it. I was going to call a zoo up in Idaho, which for some reason I thought might be interested.

I also dreamed that I was involved in the production of a video for work. My best friend John had written the script for the video, and I was nervous that I hadn’t gone through the script to edit it. Apparently I was going to be in the video itself, and there would be some dancing involved as well.

The Great Escape


Monty has been biding his time. For two and a half years now, he's been planning this, exploring every inch of his cage, delicately probing at the lid. And Sunday night he decided that it was time to go.

Somehow he pushed the lid up and got himself through the opening in such a way that it fell back into place. Then he presumably spent some time exploring, before settling down in the nice, cozy spot behind Allison's dresser.

Now, a couple points here. Ball pythons might seem intimidating to people who aren't big into reptiles, but they are super gentle and harmless. If they are bothered they don't bite, but curl up into a ball (hence the name). So nobody was in any danger here. As far as I have been able to determine, there is no record of a ball python ever injuring a human.

The Weekend

It was a pretty busy weekend. Saturday was Allison's birthday, so we finally went out on Friday night to get her some gifts (we're so organized). Then on Saturday we had an Easter egg hunt outside. When we went out, Sam said the weeds in our yard looked bad, and that we should pull them. He went back inside the house to put some gloves on to get working, but we finally prevailed upon him to just do the egg hunt. (I sprayed the weeds later that day, okay?)



Just being two, I'm sure she didn't really get the whole birthday thing, but she did catch on to the egg hunt. And she even tried to blow out her candles.

On Sunday we were stuck in the church parking lot for a while, so we decided to take a couple pictures. I was trying to get one with both kids, but this other random kid came and was trying to get in the picture.

Insert Egg-Related Pun

Last night we dyed Easter eggs together. Sam was a little too anxious, and of the 16 eggs we had, he used at least ten of them. Then, when we had colored them all, Allison started putting them all back in the dye. So we ended up with some interesting-looking eggs, one of which was super awesome:


The one with all the eyes and tails and whatnot is Sam's.

Family: It's about Time

Last night I dreamed about an Asian family, the father of which had invented a method for time travel. But his home was attacked by some bad guy, and all he could do was send his son back in time 90 minutes to warn them all that it was going to happen. The son was successful, and then I don't remember exactly what happened, but in the end both the father and the bad guy agreed that time travel was not a good idea.

Just Because

I haven't posted anything for a while. So here are a couple pics of the kids.

[caption id="attachment_1737" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="Buckets of fun"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1718" align="aligncenter" width="502" caption="She likes Sam's sunglasses, and she prefers to wear them upside down."][/caption]

Super Creepy Dream

Last night I had a short horror-movie dream. I was standing near a dirt country road, when an old gray Ford pickup pulled up with a man inside. Also inside was a doll-sized figure. After a few moments, the doll suddenly turned face up and shrieked “Scarecrow!”  The man was literally scared to death, and his body kind of shriveled and shrunk like the doll. I knew that if we left, the scarecrow doll thing would keep popping up out of nowhere and screaming at us (I was suddenly with an unnamed friend), so we cut off the heads of both bodies and buried them (just the heads, for some reason).

Goals Realized

We all probably have a few things that are mysteriously difficult to do. For example, I have never successfully built a snowman. The whole "rolling the snowball" thing never really worked for me.

On a related note, my dad has been wanting for years to fly a kite with Sam. But, bless his heart, my dad always buys fancy, expensive kites that are just too heavy to fly in anything less than gale-force wind. (Meanwhile, I got a $2 cheapo plastic K-Mart special that worked great.)

Anyway, on Saturday there was finally enough wind that they were able to fly this box kite:

Big Turk

Last night I dreamed that I was speaking with Enes Kanter of the Utah Jazz, who is from Turkey. I asked him how to say several things in Turkish, which I tried to remember to look up and see if my brain was super amazing, but I forgot them when I woke up.

I do remember, however, that he said that Turkish word order was object-verb-subject, which as I recall is relatively rare among languages. But I just looked that up and, alas, Turkish is subject-object-verb. So I'm not subconsciously a genius.

(Note: That doesn't preclude my being a conscious genius.)

Three-Fourths

Here's a boring running post that I'm mostly writing because this is my current version of a journal. So read at your own risk of boredom.

On Saturday I ran 20 miles for the first time, which is 76 percent of a full marathon. It went well, and I'm getting the hang of taking in calories during the run. Most marathon training plans have 20 miles as the longest you do before the full thing, but I am planning a couple longer runs so I'm not in unfamiliar territory on May 5, which is the date of the Provo City Marathon. It feels weird to be so close to this goal that I have been working toward for several years.

Separation of Sleep and State

Last night I dreamed that I was in school, and Rick Santorum came to ask my class to record a radio promotion for him. A few of us objected, and I told him that some people think he is a little crazy, and that I wasn’t comfortable being a part of the promotion. Then Mitt Romney came to our class in response, and he asked me if I was going to vote for him instead. I was a little annoyed that he asked, but I told him that I would if he secured the nomination. Also, I remember the teacher complaining to him, as if he were the principal, that my little group were being difficult in general, and weren’t doing our homework.

In the end it seems like I was in kindergarten, which is funny because it would render the whole voting thing moot.

Instant Nostalgia

Do you remember how exciting it was when you were a kid (or possibly a college student) and you found a prize in your breakfast cereal? Why not relive that magical time of your life? All you need is a child who enjoys playing in your flour canister. Just turn your back for a moment, and presto—a necklace chain in your cookie dough!

No Soliciting

The days of the friendly door-to-door salesman are long gone. Aside from the worry of letting a dangerous stranger into your house, you can get anything you want delivered to your door sans creepy person who won’t leave, through the internet. Since moving into our new house, we have been constantly beset by salespeople, especially for water softeners. I have no idea if “no solicitor” signs really work, but if they do, I’d like to come up with something more creative, that will at least give them a chuckle as they leave me alone. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Abandon all hope, solicitors who enter here.

Solicitors will be subject to merciless mocking.

(skull and crossbones) solicitors

Flowchart: Are you selling something? -->Yes-->Get off my property

He who wishes to sell to me must first answer these questions three: Do you value your life? How much? Do you want to live to your next birthday?

Thanks, I already have a water softener. Or whatever other crap you're selling. In fact, I have two. Now go away.

Any other suggestions?

A New Record

Yesterday morning I went running, then went to the park with Sam, then took him out to practice his fishing skills in the river behind the house, and then played outside with the kids some more. So I was outside for 5 or 6 hours, and I managed to get a mild sunburn. March 10? I think that's a new record for me.

The Purge

One of the challenges of today’s lifestyle is clutter. In this case I don’t mean the accumulation of physical possessions so much as the use of our time. Periodically I find that I need to weed out some of the things I spend my time on, not because there’s anything wrong with them individually, but because I could be doing more valuable things with my life.

To that end, last night I purged a bunch of apps from my phone that I rarely use, which frees up system resources and probably speeds it up a bit. Then, this morning I deleted several of my Google Reader feeds. I had collected a lot of items that I enjoyed reading at first, but after a while it became a chore to read every post.

I have also whittled down my TV consumption over the past few months (having no TV reception and no cable/satellite is great for that). I could catch most of what I wanted on various websites, but it has ended up being enough of a chore that even the few shows I used to watch just don’t seem important to me anymore. These days the TV is mostly showing cartoons on Netflix for the kids.

That leads me to another lengthy train of thought that I didn’t intend to post here, but I will give you the short version. (Warning: cranky old guy alert!) I kind of resent that so much of our society is based on creating and consuming entertainment, and that we have nothing better to do with our lives than to watch and talk about TV and movies. It seems insulting to us, somehow. I think I will lead a much richer life if I get off the couch. Anyway, I know it’s not an original though, so I’ll end that there. But it is interesting to notice the changes in myself as I age and realize that it’s a natural progression to cranky old man, and that’s okay.

Lost

I was thinking recently about some of the possessions I have somehow lost over the years. I lost a couple of important souvenirs from my mission for example: a tie given to me by a great family, and a set of brass chopsticks made especially for me by a wonderful lady we taught. I also managed to lose my original wedding ring, which has since been replaced by a less expensive one. “This is why we can’t have nice things!” (Tangent: I’ve noticed that hand lotion is the cause of 100% of ring losses in my family, as we have had several scares with Katie’s, caused by taking the rings off to apply the lotion.)

What have you lost?

I Scream

We often buy vanilla ice cream, and I usually use it for root beer floats. But we’ve had no root beer for a while, so I’ve been trying a few different things to jazz it up. First I put some caramel-filled Hershey kisses in the cup and smashed them, then mixed in the ice cream. Oh, yes. That was fine. Then, another day I crumbled up some girl scout thin mints and mixes that in. We had another winner! And finally, last night I put a little hot chocolate powder in. Fantastic!

Any other ideas?

You Are Wrong

The world has a lot of problems; I think we can all agree on that point. And each of us, as selfish individuals, contributes to that in our own small way. But we can solve, or at least mitigate, a good portion of those problems, by accepting two simple words: I’m wrong.

Stay with me here as I explain. The odds are, each of us has at least one closely held belief that is completely wrong. It may be something as simple as believing that traffic lights always turn red just for us, or a belief that the trees are secretly controlling our every thought. In particular, the vast majority of our problems in individual relationships are caused by our dogged refusal to admit that WE ARE WRONG in a given situation. Politicians refuse to admit that they made a mistake until they are backed into a corner with photographic evidence. Spouses feel they have to constantly one-up each other. When you’re at the grocery store and something rings up “wrong,” maybe you just read the sign incorrectly. Is that so difficult to believe? Well, we’re all wrong a good portion of the time, and here’s the second part of the equation: It’s okay to be wrong sometimes! Life is about being wrong and learning. Maybe accepting our own mistakes make us less jerk-tacular to each other.

If you read this, I want to you take at least one opportunity within the next 24 hours to say to another person, “I’m wrong,” or at least, “I could be wrong.” And maybe, just maybe, next time you’re in some sort of conflict with another person, you could stop and make an attempt to be objective about the situation. Maybe you really did run the red light when you hit that other car. Maybe you really did put insufficient postage on the package you sent. Admitting that we are wrong frees us from trying to be perfect all the time even at the expense of the truth.

But then, I could be wrong.

Red Light Turn Green... Now!

Can I just say that I love when things happen that make me feel more significant than I am? Last night we were gone for most of the evening, foolishly driving up to Salt Lake in the worst snowstorm we’ve had all winter. While we were up there, we found out from a friend that the power had gone out in our neighborhood. We stayed in SL a little longer than we had planned, but eventually we decided to head back and hope the power was restored soon.

As we entered the neighborhood, it was interesting to see where the outage began. We pulled onto our dark street and stopped for a moment to talk with a neighbor out shoveling his driveway. All of a sudden the whole street lit up, and we got to pretend that it was just because we came home.

Sam, however, was disappointed. He “wanted to see what it was like” to have the power off at home. We tried to explain that it was the same as when we turn off all the lights, but he would have none of that.

You Had Your Breakfast in Bed Before...

Last night I dreamed that I had been traveling somewhere for about a year, and I came home to find that I was now required to serve a two-year stint in the army. Apparently I was to be stationed in Austria, and I was pretty upset. I distinctly remember thinking that I wasn't homesick when I went to Korea for two years, or wherever I had been traveling in this dream for the previous year, but I started to feel homesick in the dream itself. Very strange.

What Is a Friend?

*Please note that this post has nothing to do with Facebook, which in turn has nothing to do with real friendship.

In circumstances such as work and church—instances in which people find themselves in groups they did not organize—we usually find people we enjoy interacting with. Often we don't see them outside of these circumstances, but we still feel they are more than "just" coworkers. But it seems odd to call them friends if we never see each other voluntarily. So what are these people? We need something stronger than "acquaintance," but not as strong as "friend," to describe this relationship. Any ideas?

The Vessel

This is a post more like someone else with a cereal fixation would do, but I still have to mention it. Lately I've been having cereal as a morning snack at work, and I've noticed something. Cereal eaten from a styrofoam bowl, with a plastic spoon, tastes way different from cereal eaten from a stoneware or glassware bowl with a metal spoon. And it's less enjoyable.

A Glimpse into My Brain

In a box I just ran across a list I made as a teenager, entitled If I Ran When I Run the World. It consists of rules for society. Here it is, copied directly, along with my current feelings on the issue in red:

Anyone talking on a cellular phone while driving will be killed on sight, or possibly kept in cages for our own amusement. I still feel this is the correct stance, although I have been guilty of it myself from time to time. I suppose the best option would be to change it to texting while driving.

All dogs not used for official purposes, such as police dogs, rescue dogs, etc., will be destroyed, probably hung as piñatas and beaten with sticks, or eaten in Korea. Here too, I still agree with the sentiment, but now I realize that the problem is mostly dog owners. So maybe I'd add them to the list.


All Ford Expeditions, and the yuppies driving them, will be catapulted off the edge of the Grand Canyon; cash awards for distance. I hadn't seen Hummers yet.


All teen pop idols such as Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, and all the homosexual 5-boy singing groups will be rounded up and hunted down in a wild game preserve by hard rock bands such as Metallica, AC/DC, Aerosmith, etc.; the proceeds will go to charity. I'm still totally on board with this.


Any car manufacturer who puts random letters on the end of the car's name, such as LS, DX, ES, etc., as a way of charging hundreds of dollars more for nothing, will have their plants napalmed. I didn't understand options packages at the time. I still think they're stupid, though.

People caught using speakerphones will have their vocal cords removed and will never again have anyone speak to them. YES! YES!

Anyone who remakes any Beatles song will have their vocal cords gouged out with a dirty toilet brush and forced to dress as a mime for the rest of their natural life. Yep.

All golf courses will be converted to grazing for cattle. Yes.

Nobody over the age of 50 can wear shorts in public. I don't really care that much about this anymore, but it's at least a good guideline to follow.


Each time an individual is caught driving drunk, they will be required to donate an organ. If any are damaged, i.e., the liver or lungs, they will not be an option. I am 100% behind this one.

Anyone driving a car in which the turn signals work but does not use them will be forced to drive an old Ford Pinto with a leaky gas tank. Yes, but they should also have to watch their car crushed before their eyes.

Those who wear shorts in the winter must wear long pants in the summer. Flip flops count too.

People who do not return shopping carts to the designated places will have a shopping cart permanently chained to their ankle. If I can always put the cart back even when wrangling kids, anyone can do it.

People who do not flush public toilets and urinals will have their kidneys removed, thus spending the rest of their lives needing dialysis. This one still works for me, too.


People who write or say, "What's up, Bro?" will be castrated. I guess I assumed it was always guys who do this, which is probably right. Can women call a guy "Bro"?

Church members whose cell phones ring during a church meeting will be excommunicated—and executed—immediately. Does this count?


The Worst Inadvertent Insults

It doesn't make you any less of a man.

Consequences

This afternoon I went out to a certain section of the trail I run on, carrying a pair of snips. With these I cut the piece of barbed wire that caused this yesterday:

The end

Musical Beds

This comes across as another "complaining about lack of sleep" post, but I really just think it's funny how much we all switch places during the night. I mean, at some point all you can do is laugh (preferably maniacally, as you are carted away in a straightjacket).

Bedtime: Katie goes to lie down in Allison's room to help her fall asleep. I am in Sam's room to do the same (he has a hard time falling asleep in his room alone). Allison is having a hard time too, so Katie sends me to bed once Sam is asleep. She comes in at some point.

At 12:30 or so, Sam comes into our room crying. I get up and go lie down in his room to keep him company as he falls asleep again.

At around 1, while I'm still in Sam's room, Allison wakes up crying. I go into her room for a few minutes and get her back to sleep.

At around 3, Allison is up again. Katie goes into her room to try getting her down again. After a few minutes it's obvious that won't work, so she comes back into our room to let Allison sleep in our bed. Because there's not enough room, I go back to Allison's room to sleep.

I get up at 6:30 in Allison's room and see that Sam has gone into our room to sleep with Katie and Allison. I get in the shower.

When I come out, Allison has woken up again, and Katie has taken her back into her room to avoid disturbing Sam in our bed.

A Few of My Favorite Fictional Characters

The Robot Devil

Ron Swanson

Richard Sharpe

John Dortmunder

Montgomery Burns

Malcolm Reynolds

Harry Dresden

Who are yours?

I Can't Relate

It’s all about context. Seriously, context is way underrated. Allow me to explain.

This happens a lot at work, when someone asks me, “Do I use ‘affect’ of ‘effect’?” Obviously, either might be correct, based on the context. Or I will have to make another decision without knowing the big picture. I was once offered a job that seemed like it included a big raise, until I noticed that the insurance cost four times what I was currently paying.

I’ve already mentioned how I don’t have a favorite color. What might be a good color for a car may not be the best color of clothing. Choosing a favorite food all depends on my mood and what I have recently eaten.

To that end, I ask a lot of questions whenever I talk to anyone. I think I annoy people sometimes, but it’s all in an effort to establish context to know how a situation might relate to other things. So I apologize.

I’m also sorry to post this without any context as to where these thoughts came from.

Last Night

8:30: Allison goes to sleep.

9:15: Allison wakes up.

9:30: Sam goes to sleep.

10:00: I go to sleep. Katie stays up to get Allison down again.

11:00: I wake up to Allison’s crying and, feeling guilty, go to help Katie get her back to bed.

11:45: Allison is asleep again, and Katie and I go to bed.

11:50 to 12:30: The neighbors’ dogs whine and bark. (The neighbors have been gone for 5 days, and the dogs are unhappy to be left out in the cold, because they normally sleep inside.)

12:30: Unable to sleep, I go over to the neighbors’ house to complain. They have just gotten back and were about to bring the dogs in anyway.

12:45 to 1:??: Feeling stupid because I complained just before the problem would have been solved anyway, I am unable to sleep.

2:55: Allison wakes up and won’t go back to sleep in her room. I hold her for a while to get her sleepy again and take her in to sleep in our bed with Katie.

3:15 to 6:20: I sleep on the floor in Allison’s room.

6:20 to 6:50: I decide to set my alarm a little later and doze off and on.

Yes, Soup for You!

I feel like soup is kind of an underrated food. It’s great because you have a whole, (potentially) nutritious meal in one bowl. And it can be pretty simple to prepare. That being said, I had never really tried making my own soup from scratch until this weekend.

Sometimes it’s fun when you are trying to squeeze a few more meals out of whatever is on hand before you break down and head to the grocery store. And on Sunday I noticed that we had some chicken, but not enough for what I might usually consider. So I decided to try my hand at chicken noodle soup.

I looked at a few recipes to see more or less the common proportion of ingredients and spices, and then, in the tradition of male cooks, sort of made it up as I went along. The end result was not bad. It was just a tiny bit salty, so next time I will fix that. Also, next time I might try fettuccine noodles like my dad (the best soup chef in the world) does instead of egg noodles.

Also, I made vanilla pudding last weekend. I usually make chocolate, so I thought I’d try a new recipe. It was pretty good too. All in all, a successful weekend of culinary experimentation.

Monday Morning Confession

Katie and I are both using blue toothbrushes right now; they are just different shades. I felt unusually tired last week, but that still doesn't excuse the fact that two or three times I have accidentally started brushing my teeth with hers.

Pun Overload

Here's a conversation I had with my coworker Michael via email. Eventually I veered from the Middle East toward Africa, before finally getting tired of the puns (which I didn't think was possible).

Joel: And Iran… Iran so far away…

Michael: So, did you hear how most the middle east countries were named? It all happened when Stan came running up to a friend totally out of breath. The friend asks: “Why are you running?” and Stan answers: “I got in a fight!” The friend responds: “well, why are you running away?” in which Stan Responds: “He threw Iraq (a rock), so Iran (I ran)!” “Aren’t you going to get him back?” the friend asks. Out of breath Stan says: “Oh, it Kuwait. (can wait).

Not much later, Stan realizes that the sharp rock had lodged into his leg. The type of rock is technically called af-gan…and so there was an af-gan in Stan. (Afganistan)

Joel: That story makes me Saudi :(

Michael: You are such a Turkey.

Joel: Don’t blame me, it’s Jordan’s fault.

Michael: I hate Jordan. Egypt me the other day.

Joel: Oman, that was the best!

Michael: Well. Maybe for you. But it kind of messed me up. I don’t what Israel and what isn’t anymore.

Joel: Thanks for the lunch invite, but I’ll stay here and eat my Yemen cheese sandwich.

Michael: Are you being Syria(s)? That doesn’t even sound like a real sandwich.

Joel: Well, it is. And I’m adding a bunch of slices of cheese. I’ll probably put ten or Lebanon it.

Michael: If I had a Qatar for every slice of cheese I’ve eaten, I’d be a rich man.

Joel: Be careful outside, with the weather. Bahrain never hurt anyone, though, so I guess you’ll be okay.

Michael: BAH! RAIN is no good! But you know what they say. When life gives you yemens, make Yemenade. I ended up going to Cyprus Credit Union.

Joel: UAE there for lunch?

Michael: No. I’m going to kick Djibouti if you misunderstand my emails again!

Joel: Whoa, take it easy. Maybe a little Qatar music will calm you down. Sorry to reuse one, but Iraq my brains trying to come up with something original.

Michael: Well Somalia have been messin with my cubicle. So…not sure how I feel about that.

Joel: Don’t blame me, I’m pretty sure it was Chad.

Michael: Hmmm. Breaking from the greater Middle East route. That’s like switching from a compact car to a Sudan.

Joel: Give it a try. It’s Libyating.

Michael: Kenya really make the switch that easily?

Terminal Velocity

Last night I dreamed that I went skydiving. I was with some guy who was an expert, and he jumped out without telling me which of the two cords on my parachute I would need to pull. I jumped out and caught up with him in the air, and he let me know which one it was, so I could properly deploy my parachute. It was fun.

Zebra Girl

For Christmas Sam got a superhero cape and mask, with which he changes from mild-mannered (relatively speaking) Sam to Super Strike!

Last night Allison brought them to me to put on her. In addition to the zebra-striped footies she was wearing, it makes quite the costume.

Pointless Anecdote #472

One day when I was in elementary school, presumably in 1988, I was in the bathroom. A boy came in and asked me a question. I can’t remember the question, but it had something to do with Michael Dukakis, the Democratic presidential candidate. The boy then said, “He’s my dad.” The kid had the same bushy eyebrows and dark hair that Michael Dukakis did, and so it seemed plausible enough to my 8-year-old mind.

Every once in a while I think about that odd experience. And today I finally looked him up, to find out that Michael Dukakis has no biological son, just one adopted son who would have been 30 years old at the time. So I have no idea who the kid was.

The End.