Monday, January 30, 2017

Dusting off the cobwebs

just a quick post to keep this blog from vanishing from disuse. Can't believe it's been 8 years since I last posted to it. Man, what a simpler time THAT was.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Guilty pleasures

Since the beginning of the year, I've been trying an experiment of multi-tasking where I work from home while taking care of Lucy. Most of the time, it's quite the juggling act, like bouncing her on my knee while I write emails or feeding her while I'm talking on the phone. A couple of times, I've had to do presentations and had to bring her along and let an audience member hold her while I'm speaking. (Fortunately she hasn't developed the dreaded "stranger danger" or I'll be screwed.

Anyway, by the time Margaret gets home from work on Wednesday, I feel completely sucked dry... like I've had to pull a handcart across the plains, organize the church choir, draw up plans for the Salt Lake temple, AND get 5 poopy diapers changed... all in the same day! The main thing that I want after Lucy goes to bed is turn off my brain, and fortunately NBC has provided me exactly what I need! I'm ashamed to admit that I have been watching the new Knight Rider for a while now. I know, I know... turn away! Don't look at me; I'm HIDEOUS!

Admittedly, the show isn't all that great (hence its "brain candy" status), but just like it's 80's predecessor, I can't help watching because the car is just too cool... although in the 80's I would have said it was "rad." Whereas the 80's version was a Trans Am or something, the new and improved one can be ANYTHING. So far, it's been a Mustang, a F-Series pickup, and a 1973 Mustang. I'm just waiting for an upcoming episode where it will be imperative to the plot for KITT to transform into a Aerostar minivan. I can just see the story panning out something like this:

[Opening credits roll] KITT and Michael Knight are traveling at supersonic speeds through the Bonneville Salt Flats headed to Salt Lake City. They're in the middle of a message from headquarters giving them details about a smuggling ring in Salt Lake that is transporting illegal quantities of Jell-O throughout Utah and Idaho. The smugglers have been disguising the Jell-O as bricks of cocaine, something that the residents of Salt Lake wouldn't be able to identify, even if it was labeled "Cocaine." The cover story to infiltrate the smuggling ring is for Michael to pose as a father of 17 who needs regular shipments of the Jell-O. "KITT, we're going to have to go in stealth. Initiate transformation." And voilá! KITT becomes an Aerostar! The show then follows the usual formula with Michael Knight getting into some bind, some kid discovering that KITT can talk, KITT getting Michael out of his jam, the crime lords being brought down, and the kid getting a free ride in KITT. Only at the end, the twist is that KITT drives the little girl to her own BAPTISM! [Closing credits roll]

Man, people are going to feel the spirit when they watch THAT episode!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Oh yeah, this is what it was like

Last night Margaret and I got the opportunity to go to the symphony here in Portland. We haven't been to an event like that since well before Lucy was born and we were excited but also anxious about the prospect. We made an evening of it, meeting up at a restaurant for their happy hour menu before going over to the box office to pick up our tickets. As we sat down, we started talking... about Lucy doing this and Lucy eating that and Lucy pooping... well, you get the picture. We didn't even realize we were doing it until 5 or 10 minutes had passed of us doing that. We made the decision to not even mention her name, knowing that she was fine at home and we were just out to enjoy ourselves. After we did that, it was amazing. We talked about politics, religion, Super Bowl ads. It was great. We got to have a great dinner, eat dessert at a cool new mod restaurant nearby, browse around in Nordstrom, and see a great Mozart performance. Although the experience made us wish we lived closer to family; the babysitter effectively doubled the cost of the evening.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Schoolhouse Rock goes tin-foil hat

We all grew up with Schoolhouse Rock. I mean, without it, how would we know that a noun is a person, place, or thing. Or that three is the magic number. Anyway, here's a Schoolhouse Rock the government doesn't want you to see. Thanks to Obama's recommitment to freedom of information, it's finally come to light.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Surrealism in Portland

You how every once in a while, you're blessed to overhear the most amazingly random conversations that make you feel happy having overheard it and happier yet that you're not that weird person talking? Well, yesterday I was blessed with such an opportunity. I was sitting in my gym lobby waiting for my workout partner to get out of the locker room. I had gotten out my phone and was browsing around on Facebook checking work emails, when I started eavesdropping on a guy (who looked like COmic Book Guy from the Simpsons, which will make the following story even more cringe-worthy) sitting near me talking on his phone. My ears perked up when he uttered the words "sexy mermaids", as I've always enjoyed the movie "The Little Mermaid" and assumed he was talking about that. Well, surprisingly, he wasn't talking about Ariel. I can only imagine that he was talking with his tattoo artist when he said this: "I need someone to draw me a picture of two sexy mermaids fighting underwater with a narwhal swimming by and one of the mermaids has broken off his horn and is stabbing the other mermaid with it and underneath, in Latin, write 'this pain shall benefit you'." And then to top it off, he followed up with, "the last time I tried to have someone draw that, they gave me SEA HAGS, and I don't want sea hags, I want SEXY MERMAIDS!" Don't we all.

Seriously, overhearing that just made my day.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ummm, I have a question

I saw this on someone's blog and would like to cautiously raise my hand and timidly ask, fearful of the answer, how exactly do you play this video game.

Seriously? Any ideas? Anyone out there in the Internets world played this before? Did you feel guilty afterward or invigorated? Is it appropriate to bring "protection" to the arcade or is it made out of anti-bacterial plastic? I'm dying of curiosity here!

Okay, a friend sent me this information about the game. Evidently it's a Japanese phenomenon called "Kancho" and here is a description of it from an American who teaches English in Japan:

Let me introduce you to a game Japanese kids like to play called "Kancho." It's not as much a 'game' as it is kids clasping their hands together, sticking out their first fingers, and shoving them up your butt. I'm really not joking.

Just about any kid can be a Kancho Assassin. Even the sweetest little girl is liable to jam her fingers up your ass the second you turn around. This happened to one of my friends, which just goes to show - don't trust anyone. I'd say the little girls are the most dangerous because they have natural ways of lowering your defenses.

During JET orientation they told me a lot of ultimately useless stuff: what kind of computer to bring, if my DVD's would work, clothing sizes, that kind of nonsense. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, in the 3-4 months of training did anyone ever mention that at some point, a Japanese kid may try to stick his fingers up my butt. That's something I would have liked to know, personally.

I was pretty lucky. Before I left the US, I bought a really big, really baggy pair of pants. The kids try to Kancho... they just have no idea where my ass is. It's beautiful! One kid tried and his fingers hit nothing but jean fabric and air. Yes! I've also become pretty good at dodging it. Much like Spiderman I have developed a Kancho Sense that tells me where and when it's coming before it comes. I parry fingers like a pro. My record is still 100% Kancho Free. Ha! America 2, Japan 0.

So yes, there is something more dreaded than the Ninja or the Shogun... it's the Kancho Assassin!

Head injuries

This weekend, while chatting with my grandmother and aunt, we were discussing a recent spill that my grandmother took that had given her a concussion. (She's okay, by the way... and curiously the incident was a mixed bag in terms of effects. On the one hand, she has to read large-print books for a week to two, which unfortunately limits her to Reader's Digest condensed books or the Scriptures... eh, who am I kidding... it limits her to just Reader's Digest condensed books. But on the other hand, it cleared up something that had been bugging her for quite some time and that had forced her to drink tea to treat it. Maybe the spill was God's way of helping her obey the Word of Wisdom... you know, like STDs are God's way of helping people obey the Law of Chastity)

Anyway, while we were talking about concussions, my grandmother said that she saw sparkles (which is WAY more exciting than the boring stars that other people report seeing). I told her that I remember seeing sparkles, too, when I sustained the most horrific head injury of my life: The Hose Incident of 1988. I talked about this before, but in case you're a newcomer to this blog and haven't gone back and read every one of my posts to be regaled with it's greatness (and if you haven't, what's up with THAT?!), here is the story:

One day, I got stuck with the task of watering our lawn. I was moving the sprinkler from one location to another and was pulling the hose when it got caught up on something. Being the lazy teenager that I was, I decided to try to whip the hose off the hang-up rather than walking back and freeing it. Unfortunately I grabbed the hose not at the end but about 10 inches from the end. Suddenly, as I stood there whipping the hose up and down and back and forth--expending WAY more energy than if I were to simply walk back and free it-- something hit me so hard on the head that I couldn't hear out of my right ear, my vision went black for an instant (during which time I saw the sparkles against a dark backdrop and was inspired to visit Studio 54), and I could barely stand up straight. I was standing near the road in front of our house and thought that someone must have thrown a rock at me as they drove past! Senseless violence in rural Idaho even in those days! I stumbled back to the house, all the while telling myself my name, address, phone number, preferred brand of bacon bits, and the synopsis to last week's episode of Knight Rider to confirm that I didn't have amnesia. I'd seen enough movies and soap operas to know that even the slightest blow to the head is enough to make someone forget that he's a rich baron that drives racecars and is a double agent between the US and Canada. Unfortunately I could well remember that I wasn't wealthy royalty but a pimply teenager into computers and science--at least the injury could have made me think I was a British agent for a few minutes. When I went in the house and told my mom what had happened, she was (understandably) freaked out and rushed me to the clinic in town. As we were sitting in the examination room, I had some time to think about what had happened and my original thought that someone had thrown a rock at me just didn't seem to add up. One, none of my enemies or nemises had that good of aim, two, a rock thrown that distance would have left more than a series of threaded lines on my forehead, and three, I wasn't even facing the road. It was then that I realized that I had hit myself with the wicked strike of a whipped garden hose. I sheepishly told my mom what I had just realized and she said that we'd stick to the thrown rock story when we told the doctor what had happened. And that's exactly what we did. Now the internets know why I have a slight bump on my forehead, why I'm into whips and chains, and why, for a short time, I was completely obedient to the Third Commandment.

Friday, January 16, 2009


Holy crap! Why didn't anyone tell me that I haven't written on this thing for more than a month! And so much has happened. So much that it's all just a blur and I can't differentiate anything out of that blurry view, so you'll just have to imagine how wild and crazy and amazing and tragic and transcendental the past 6 weeks have been and we'll move on. Go ahead and imagine... I'll wait... Are you doing it? Ooo, don't forget to imagine the part where Obama calls and asks me for advice on something. Oh, and don't forget to picture me negotiating a peace treaty between two warring nations... yeah, that was good. Man, it's too bad it's all such a blur, because you would have LOVED reading about it, but let's just move on.

Today I had to do something I dread: cancel a subscription to a service. I hate it because they always pull out the "why are you leaving us" or "let us offer you a special deal" or "we've got these pictures of you that you really wouldn't like to get out, would you?" I hate that. Anyway, I've found a fool-proof method of stopping them in their hard-sell tracks: tell them you're moving, but not just any simple move will do. They're trained to respond, "Oh, we can just transfer your service to your new address. Where are you moving to?" Here's where the part that throws them comes in. I respond, "Norway." Both times I've tried this, they meekly say, "Oh, we don't offer service there. I'll process your cancellation." Works. Like. A. Charm!

Now if only that trick would work on our home teachers!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Holiday lights

Yes, it's that time of year again. To go find your snarled mess of Christmas lights and get them hung up.

Because nothing says the birth of Christ like the twinkling beauty of tiny lights hanging on your house's eaves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Inexperienced bar-goer

A while back, an accounting firm at the end of our street went out of business and a bar opened in the vacant space. And not just any bar but a classically stereotypical hipster bar with velvet curtains and smarmy twenty- and thirty-somethings who look down on you when you walk by on the sidewalk with your Dutch stroller thinking that you should be using a Radio Flyer wagon to transport your baby. Anyway, this bar INFURIATES our neighbor, as the street in front of our house tends to fill up with the bar's patron's cars. He is always on the lookout for reasons to call the parking authority for any infraction, which endears him to the bar, I'm sure.

Which reminds me of my first Portland bar experience. Now me and bars don't have a long history together. Growing up Mormon, I always had the perception that bars were dark, seedy places that smelled like smoke, stale booze, cheap perfume, and despair. All the men were drunks looking for an excuse to be away from their families and drown their sorrows and worries in cheap whiskey and all the women were caked-on makeup floozies with stringy hair looking to snag a man for the night. The sitcom Cheers only altered my perception a little--bars were also places where people were forced to work if they were imprudent enough to get an English literature degree. My college years didn't afford me any opportunities to glimpse inside a real bar, given that going within 50 feet of one was a violation of the BYU Honor Code and the nearest one to Provo was a biker bar 80 miles out in the West Desert.

Well, finally, after fleeing Utah and moving to Portland, I finally got the opportunity to step foot in a bar... a REAL LIVE BAR! What made it alluring wasn't the alcohol, since I don't drink (although I was curious to find out if you really get free pop at a bar if you say you're the designated driver... if I found that out to be true, I'd never have to buy Diet Coke again and I'd be hanging out at bars all the time! Turns out you have to be in a group of people drinking who actually need someone to drive them home. Stupid rules.). No, the siren beckoning us into this bar was its wealth of pool tables. One day, around 4:30 in the afternoon on a weekday, Margaret and I walked by that bar and saw that the only people in it was the bartender, a couple of waitresses, and a couple of hardcore drinkers who looked like they'd been sitting on their barstools since the place opened at 10:30 am. We furtively looked around to make sure that no one from our ward was in view, then I took a deep breath (the last smoke-free breath I would take for the next 90 minutes) and stepped over the threshold. The main surprise I had about the place was that it had an awful lot of plants. I didn't really expect that, assuming that any potted thing would be quickly killed from being the dumping ground for cigarettes, bad cocktails, and the occasional vomit. Who knew?

We sauntered over to the pool table closest to the door all casual like, trying to project the image that this was something we did all the time. Margaret took care of getting the billiard balls out of the machine and picking out our cues while I got the task of, gulp, going up to the bar and ordering our pops. Believe me, all your cred disappears when you step up to the bar at the local dive and order a couple of rum and Cokes, but hold the rum, and instead of Coke, please use Diet Coke. I told the bartender we were the designated drivers, hoping that would throw him off track. Which it didn't. Damn!

Chastened, I brought our pops back to the pool table and we started our game. Given that this was the first time in years that either of us had played pool, we were absolutely terrible. But we were having fun laughing at how ridiculous we were at our awful pool-playing skills. That game lasted quite a while. It takes a surprising amount of time to sink... um, however many balls are in a billiard set... when each ball takes four to five attempts. By the time we finished, we were getting into it, and so I went and got refills on our modified rum and Cokes and we started a second game, as the bar was still quite empty. Within 10 minutes of starting the second game, however, people started flocking in. I don't know if it was happy hour or the local steel mill 45 miles south of us had changed shifts, but suddenly the bar was a noisy, smoky, crowd of people. Soon all the other pool tables were filled and we were feeling the pressure to finish our game. A guy saw that we had only several balls left in our game and came over to place two quarters under the lip of the pool table. "Um, I wouldn't recommend betting on us," I told him. "We're not very good players." He gave me that, "you're a non-drinking Mormon poseur just faking that you're comfortable in a bar and feeling all rebellious while drinking your Diet Coke-look" (you know the one) and told me that that's how you declare that you have dibs on the table for the next game. I wanted to bolt from the bar in humiliation, but couldn't waste the rest of my Diet Coke and the fifty cents we'd spent on the game. The 35 minutes it took to sink the last three balls felt like an eternity, as I could feel the eyes drilling in on us as we feebly tried to finish our game of shame. After the eight ball dropped into the corner pocket, we gulped down the last of our Diet Cokes, put on our coats, and proceeded to never step foot in that bar ever again.