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.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mixed blessing

I recently bought a pair of those high-tech Gap chinos with the space age treatment infused in the very fibers of the pants that make them impervious to stains and repel liquids like the back of a duck. Well, I've loved these properties up until an event a couple of days ago that have made me rethink the benefits. I was holding Lucy and I heard the telltale noises that indicated that something was going on in her pants. Then I looked down and realized that the substance that escaped the diaper hit my space age pants and instead of soaking in, just ran down them and all over my shoes! Ugh. It is MUCH easier to wash a pair of pants than get poo out of sueded shoes, believe me!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Just call me a hopeful romantic

I am so happy to be ending this drought of posts with such historic news that Obama was elected the next president of the United States. And to say that I am surprised, relieved, and hopeful about it is an understatement. I think for me, the magnitude of this election underscores my hopelessly romantic and idealistic view that America is first and foremost an idea. Unique among nations, it was founded not by coincidence of geography, homogeneity of its population, or benevolence of its ruler but by a simple idea summed up in our Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

Such power was held in that idea that it expanded to much more than the white, male, landowners it was originally meant for to eventually include blacks, women, Indians, indeed everyone. The power of this idea struck me full force a couple of years ago when Margaret and I were in Oslo. Despite all the time I'd spent there while on a mission, it wasn't until going back on vacation that I actually got the chance to visit the Oslo City Hall. The building is quite amazing and the symbolic significance of it being the site where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded each year only adds to its gravitas. Upon the building's completion, the major artists of Norway were invited to paint murals and frescoes inside. All of them were impressive, but one completely reshaped my perception of America.

Åge Storstein painted a fresco in one of the rooms that went from floor to ceiling on all four walls. The fresco is titled "Menneskerettighetene" or "The Human Rights." In it, the concept of human rights and liberty is symbolized by a flame. A flame that is ignited in America at the Revolution, spreads to France, then to the rest of Europe. The flame is almost extinguished by the Nazis, and on that panel, there are a huddled mass of Norwegians hiding underneath debris, carefully guarding only a tiny ember. Finally, in the final part of the fresco, the shackles of oppression are thrown off and the flame is allowed to burn brightly and be held aloft. Looking at this painting, and subsequently thinking back on it, I was struck by the wonderful gift that America gave the world and how thankful the world was for our contribution. But I was also struck by the change in our role in the world. Rather than being a force for good and freedom in the world, we'd become preoccupied by more selfish goals that belied the noble ideals of our founding. I was no longer living in the same America that saw patriots fight for the idea of liberty and justice. I was no longer living in the same America that my grandfather fought for and my grandmother sacrificed for for the sole purpose of bringing liberty and freedom to people on the other side of the world. I was no longer living in the same America that the rest of the world saw as a beacon of hope and possibility. Such were the emotions that I felt upon seeing this painting.


That was a long introduction to why I am so hopeful about the outcome of this election. Seeing the thousands of people gathered in Chicago to hear Obama's victory speech I felt hope. Hearing the fireworks, whoops, and honking cars at my house starting less than five minutes after the polls on the west coast closed and Obama was projected as the winner, I felt hope. Reading the Norwegian paper online and seeing that the top TWELVE articles were about the election and how excited the Norwegians were about our selection gave me hope. The following morning, seeing people still so excited gave me hope. All of these things combined to give me a hope that we can live up to our ideals once again and be a flame that gives light to the dark places in the world.

I don't think Obama can do this on his own, though. We'll all have to work together for this idea called America. The excitement, optimism, and hope that Obama has inspired in so many tells me that America still has it in her to be a source of good for this world in desperate need of our characteristic can-do, idealistic, creative nature to come shining through. And that, above all else, gives me hope. So after reading this post, you'll probably think that I'm just a hopeless romantic, to which I'll respond, I may be a romantic, but after that election, I'm far from hopeless.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Truth in advertising


I wonder if the McDonald's worker places these stickers on in the hopes that it educates people that if you'll end up a pig in a sty if you eat too many hamburgers.

Catching up

Sorry about the paucity of postings lately. What with the Big Event, new fatherhood, and composing my interpretive dance opera "Caffeine!", I'm lucky to find the time to shower. Just kidding, I think I'd rather skip meals than one of my thrice daily showers. It's just one of the debilitating effects of germaphobia. (Although it also has a positive side, in that Lucy is now pushing 6 months and hasn't been sick yet... knock on cyberwood.... and she hasn't even been kept in a bubble or ANYTHING!)

To catch you all up, here's what's been going on: I'm still working to cut down on the amount of Diet Coke I drink in preparation for a trip to Utah in December. (Just in case I get called to work for the Church while I'm there.). Margaret has been going to work on Wednesdays, so I have been using the remaining paternity leave I have to stay home one day a week with Lucy. That's been interesting and enjoyable. Although last week I think I completely pooped her (and myself) out. Here is our day: get up and go to Noah's for a bagel and Diet Coke(s), go in to work for a few hours because The Event was that weekend, go to Taco Bell with a coworker, head home for a minute to refill bottles, etc., go to the grocery store, meet Margaret at a restaurant for dinner. Phew! Then Margaret took Lucy to her craft club. By the time Lucy got home, she practically fell asleep as we were laying her down in her crib. And Margaret and I collapsed into our bed.

The Event went well. My family was here all weekend and they focused all their attention on Lucy, despite the fact that, HELLO! I'm standing right here! You could at least say 'Hi'! Now that The Event is over, things are winding down a bit, although we have trips to Idaho and Utah planned before the end of the year. With that many more flights, trapped in a closed container, I don't know if Lucy will be able to maintain her sick-free streak for much longer!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Yes, yes it does


This sign was on a shop window on my street. (I had to post it to maintain the 'R' rating that my blog received.

Week of craziness

Sorry about the complete lack of posts for the past while. I organize a big event at work that happens this weekend. It generally sucks all my attention, energy, and life force and I'm looking forward to next Monday!

Anyway, to tide you over, there were two interesting things in today's paper that I had to pass along:

1. This is from John McCain and considering recent events, REALLY makes me want to move to Norway where there is universal health care:
"Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation."

YIKES!

and

2. This is a quote from the retirement announcement of Berkeley Breathed, the creator of the comic strip "Bloom County" and "Opus":
"With the crisis in Wall Street and Washington, I'm suspending my comic strip to assist the nation. The best way I can help is to leave politics permanently and write funny stories for America's kids. I call on John McCain to join me."

I would love to see a McCain children's book!

Friday, September 26, 2008

One can dream

Considering the current state of the US economy, leadership, etc., etc., I found myself wishing for something more akin to this speech coming from the president. Below is the text of FDR's inaugural address:

“Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear … is fear itself … nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.

In every dark hour of our national life, a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves, which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels: taxes have risen, our ability to pay has fallen, government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income, the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade, the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side, farmers find no markets for their produce, the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply.

Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failures and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True, they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit, they have proposed only the lending of more money.

Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored conditions. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers.

They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.

The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money, it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.

The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be values only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit, and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing.

Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.

Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This nation asks for action, and action now.”


I'll forego the smarmy comments, as I think these words speak for themselves.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

No long up to BYU standards

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Sadly I've just found out that this blog has received a rating that would make it ineligible for consumption at BYU, or anyone wanting to go to the temple. So if either of those fits your description, delete me from your bookmarks before you're found out. And guess what things gave it an ignominious "R" on its chest, you ask? It used the following words: "sex" (3 times), "crap" (1 time), and.... wait for it, wait for it.... "MISSIONARY" (used 4 times)!!! I guess it assumes that I'm talking about missionary position, which of course I'm not. BORING! But speaking of missionary position, that reminds me one time when I was a missionary in Norway... oh, look at the time. Well, I'll tell you that story some other time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pumpkin bagels are back!!!

Margaret was ecstatic at the news that Noah's pumpkin bagels are FINALLY back in stock. Every year, when I see them, I think back on that very first Halloween, when the Israelites dressed up as Russian peasants the night before they fled Egypt for the Promised Land.... or something like that. I mean, why else would there be a traditional Jewish food in pumpkin?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aaaa! Where's my mind bleach?


And here I thought that Mormonism couldn't get more commercialized and treacly. This book is the unholy union of the Book of Mormon and Anne Geddes! Because that's just what the world needs, pictures of cute kids reenacting scenes from the scriptures to make people believe in them even MORE! And I shudder to think of the poor kids posing for the photos of Bathsheba bathing, the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, or the slaying of Abel by Cain scenes.

If, by some ironic need or head injury, you would like to get this book, it is of course available from that veritable purveyor of all things kitschy Mormon--Deseret Book (read about Margaret's last visit to one here)!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Non-political

I don't want to get political on this blog, but I had to include this graph. I think it speaks for itself, which allows me to write absolutely nothing that would incite my Republican family. (Hey everyone!)


Friday, September 05, 2008

Mormonads

All fine, upstanding Mormon teens get an important rite of passage around the time their twelve. And I'm not talking about learning that most of what they're going to be feeling for the next 10-15 years is filthy, disgusting, immoral, and shameful you should only do with the one you love after marriage. No, I'm talking about when they trade in their Children's Friend subscription for the way more edgy, sexy, adolescent magazine The New Era. Well, one of the features of this magazine was a centerfold poster giving a spiritual message, and two of the most famous ones are below, albeit delightfully subverted. (Not that I condone such a thing. Uh, I'm just showing how the Devil makes people do wicked, wicked, hilarious things.)

This first one originally stated, "Be your own kind of beautiful." Although this poster is a little closer to the truth:



The caption on this next one was originally, "Get yourself into a tight squeeze." But I love this version, which reminds me of a friend who met someone on ldssingles.com and after several dates, got an email from the guy's wife asking her why she's emailing her husband. Oops! (And no, it wasn't a polygamy thing or the wife would have been okay with it.)


Ah satire. My favorite genre! Which reminds me of an underground mission newsletter filled with satire and parody I used to write in Norway that almost got me in a LOT of trouble. But that's the stuff for a post on another day.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rock Bottom



Well, I've got the unfortunate news that I, too, know that I've hit rock bottom. Of course, I haven't woken up with my face in a urinal, but it's just as bad. Gather round, internets, and listen, for never was such a tale of woe. As any reader of this blog could surmise, Diet Coke/Pepsi is a fundamental aspect of my persona. I can easily down the fabled 96 oz. "Bladder Busters" of Utah fame in the same time that it takes a mere mortal to drink 32 oz. Of course this super power does come with a severe side effect: caffeine addiction. I've tried weaning myself off it time and again, but Diet Coke is a cruel mistress who demands obeisance several times a day... and preferably in at least 32 oz. amounts. Well, Margaret and I have been talking about getting off the stuff, particularly since I've been experiencing some heart issues that may or may not be related to consuming the equivalent of 12 cups of coffee a day. I was convinced of it on an intellectual level, but every caffeinated fiber of my being wouldn't let me.

Okay, fast forward to this weekend, where we were driving home from a trip on a Sunday. We stopped at McDonald's for a wholesome breakfast, including a Diet Coke. Well, after getting back home and having to rush to church, and then not leaving the house after getting back, that turned out to be the ONLY Diet Coke I had all day. The Olympics closing ceremony distracted me from the slight twinge beginning to form in my brain, and I thought that if I slept it off, I'd have gotten a LITTLE closer to falling away from the path of caffeination. Well, around 1 or 2 in the morning, I woke up with a splitting headache. The caffeine level in my system had reached critical levels, like down to 0.08% or something. I went to the kitchen, but alas, no pop to be found. I went to the medicine cabinet to get some Tylenol, to at least help with the headache. Then, sitting innocently on the shelf, sat the solution I craved, despite the fact that it would truly be making me hit rock bottom. I saw the magic words on a pill bottle: acetaminophen and caffeine... on a bottle of, wait for it... wait for it... MIDOL! I didn't hesitate for a second, I just took one then and there. Of course as I was swallowing the bitter little pill, the picture at the top of this post was emblazoned in my mind. There I was, knowing that I'd hit rock bottom. But on a more positive note, I wasn't bloated, either, so I guess it wasn't ALL bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

No pictures!



As you can see, Lucy absolutely HATES the paparazzi that are constantly following her around.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

New magazine

Have you heard about this new magazine? I know several people who are going to be getting gift subscriptions from me this Christmas. And you know who you are, don't you Jeff, Dave, Jack, Bonna, Will, Sonya, Margaret, Dan, Ginny, Jim, Kelli, Jennifer, and David? Don't worry, as one of their first subscribers, I get a discount on gift subscriptions.



Actually, it came from a hilarious blog that all my Mormon (and Mormonish) readers should go check out called "Bishop Higgins 3rd Ward-News for Mormons" here. (And if you have no experience, don't bother, because you definitely won't get the humor.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Feeding time

Seldom am I more jealous of Margaret's skills as a parent as when it comes to feeding. When she feeds her,Lucy is instantly at attention and eats quite well. So well, in fact, that she was at the 97th percentile in weight when she had her two-month check-up. Well, on our Wednesdays together while Margaret is at work, it turns out Lucy isn't so cooperative with a bottle as with breastfeeding. Unless the conditions are EXACTLY right, she seem to prefer starving. And through trial and error, I've discovered the optimum, or more correctly, MANDATORY conditions are thus: the milk must be 98.6º±0.5º, delivered in a ridiculously expensive bottle that mimics a human breast, be bounced on an exercise ball at the rate of 106 beats per minute, with the bottle being squeezed at 689.47 pascals at a rate of every other bounce, and the light in her room has to be on, to give her something to look at. And even then, unless she is REALLY hungry, she still won't eat. Hopefully this is a phase, as I doubt we'll get any babysitter to follow all these steps. The temperature, bouncy ball, and light are one thing, but getting the pressure that exact takes a practiced hand. And if she's this picky with being fed milk, I'm not looking forward to introducing her to duck confit!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This NEVER happened in Norway!

Did you read about the recent story of the woman who cloned her dog and it was revealed that she was the woman who kidnapped a Mormon missionary and used him as her sex slave? Check out some of the details from an article about the incident:

The story of Joyce McKinney is the stuff of pulp fiction: a North Carolina-born beauty queen who moved west, won the title Miss Wyoming USA, converted to Mormonism and went on to college at Brigham Young University, where she became obsessed with a fellow student.

When that young man went on a mission to England, authorities say McKinney hired a private detective so she could locate and follow him.

She and a male accomplice were accused of abducting the 21-year-old missionary as he went door to door, taking him to a rented 17th-century "honeymoon cottage" in Devon and chaining him spread-eagled to a bed with several pairs of mink-lined handcuffs.

There, investigators say, he was repeatedly forced to have sex with McKinney before he was able to escape and notify police.


I added the bold. Can you believe that?! Talk about the missionary position! If she only waited a few years, she could have gotten her missionary fix from that calendar of shirtless Mormon missionaries. And I'm sure that calendar would have been much cheaper than mink-lined handcuffs. Although I'm sure you'd want only the best for your kidnapped sex slave chained spread-eagle in your honeymoon cottage. No faux-fur for HER!

Man, the worst crime committed against us in Norway was being exposed to soul-crushing guilt for not putting in all of our hours proselytizing. Of course it wasn't soul-crushing enough for us to actually put in all our hours, just soul-crushing enough that it took several beers and a joint or two to lift the burden... I KID, I KID!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Wall-E

Last night, Margaret and went to see the new Pixar movie Wall-E. It was AWESOME, albeit a little over-the-top. I mean, the humans in it, having grown completely dependent on machines, were all portrayed as fat and lazy, they would rather communicate via electronic means than face-to-face, and were completely unaware at the real world around them. That's why my grandmother hates science fiction. It's completely unrealistic. I mean, humans are NOTHING like this. Especially AMERICAN humans. And most particularly especially not SUV-driving-while-talking-on-a-cell-phone-while-drinking-a-double-big-gulp-and-DVD-playing-for-the-kids-in-the-back-seat American humans.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sheltered lives

Yesterday at work, I had to do a presentation for a group of tribal kids who might be interested in going to college. They all grew up on the reservation, and to say they have been sheltered is putting it mildly. And I know sheltered, having grown up on an Indian reservation myself. I remember only having six Swatches when they were popular in the 80's, I was 17 the first time I had escargot, and I was 19 before I went to Europe to live for a couple of years. Needless to say, I know a thing or two about being sheltered. Well, my experiences PALED in comparison to these high school juniors and seniors. The group stopped at a mall here in Portland, and it turned out one of the kids had never been to a MALL before! (As it was, that kid was so overwhelmed that he just went to good ol' reliable JC Penney and then sat on the bench outside of the store to wait for the other kids in the group. I imagine him a huddled up in a corner, trying to avoid eye contact with anyone, but he probably just sat there texting friends back on the reservation.) And when we took them out to eat after the presentation, we went to a hotel restaurant and while waiting for our food, they all had to ride the elevator to the top floor! I tried to act casual for the program leaders, but inside, I was thinking, "I can't wait to call my brother. He's NEVER going to believe this!" Thinking back on our presentations about prepping to go to college and getting an education, I can't help but think that these kids are going to have a BIG eye-opener when they step onto campus that first time.

Speaking of Indians, I remember one time in Norway, right as I got moved to a new area, being amazed at having three dinners with members a week. Now, that's nothing for missionaries here in the States... in fact they get that may a DAY, but given the average for Norway was around 1 member dinner every other month, I knew something was up. And when the members were kind of disappointed at the dinners, I grew suspicious. Well, it turns out that my companion, in an effort to score more meals from members, had told the ward that his new companion was an Indian and that he only spoke Norwegian and his tribal language. Of course this had people lining up to have us over for dinner. If only I'd have brought a feather headdress and loincloth, I could have fulfilled their expectations. As it was, they just got another immature American boy that they'd never invite back for another dinner.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Child surrogates

Recently Margaret and I went to a concert in a local park where there were lots of people with their kids, in fact it is probably a prerequisite to attend. Come to think of it, we had never been to one of the free concerts Portland Parks puts on. I guess they're for the parents starving for social interaction and entertainment in a venue where their children can run around in packs and recreate Lord of the Flies scenarios. One of the couples we went with brought some bubbles and I started blowing some. I was immediately warned that they had a Pied Piper effect, and sure enough, within 12 seconds, a horde of children had materialized out of thin air, anxiously awaiting more bubbles. Margaret had to pick up Lucy for fear of her getting trampled by the swarm of urchins. That got old really fast, so I passed the bubbles back. Let the more experience parent deal with the swirling mass of kids.

Later on, I spied a couple who evidently felt left out of the whole parents-with-children dynamic going on, because they each were carrying a dog in a Baby Björn. Yes, a DOG! In a BABY BJÖRN! I was transfixed. And when they got out their little bottles of Alpo Jr. (chicken fingers dipped in ranch dressing flavor) and fed them with spoons, I wasn't that surprised. After burping their little bundles of joy, they carefully swaddled each dog carefully and sang them "How much is that doggy in the window" to lull them to sleep. They left early, presumably to go home to set up their educational savings funds for Canine Obedience School. Without a scholarship, those places cost a FORTUNE!

Okay, maybe a BIT of that was exaggerated, but they really did have their dogs in Baby Björns.

Which reminds me of a woman in Norway I knew from my mission. She went EVERYWHERE with her little Pomeranian in a handbasket. We'd run into her on the streets; dog in a basket. At home; dog in a basket. At sacrament meeting; dog in a basket. Well, one day, when I was blessing the sacrament, I looked down to see her taking an extra piece of bread and feeding it to her precious little dog! And sensing the spiritual importance of that transmutated body of the Lord, the little dog was lead to partake of the sacrament. I'm assuming that's why, since you know how hard it is to get dogs to eat bread otherwise. And now, her little dog will be with her in heaven in a little basket made of clouds. Awww.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What! No Obsession for Baby by Calvin Klein?


Can you believe this product? I can't even imagine why someone would use this. If your baby didn't smell fresh, shouldn't you actually WASH her rather than cover up the smell? I can imagine some harried parent getting ready to take the baby out and gets a whiff of a rancid poopy diaper and some soured milk that seems to have hidden in the nooks of the baby's neck. This parent, pressed for time, just thinks, "I don't have time for THIS! I'll just give Alexandria a little spritz of this baby cologne and no one will be the wiser. Plus, I want her smelling her best, because Atticus will be at the play date and I want to be sure those two hit it off!" Jeesh!


And speaking of babies, is the term "buddy" limited to boys? The other day, Lucy, dressed in a green outfit, was sitting in her stroller and the checker, thinking she was a boy, said, "How you doing buddy?" When we corrected him, he later referred to her as "Sweetie." The gender-role stereotype land mines are all over the place, aren't they?

Friday, July 18, 2008

What is this? Hogwarts?

There's a guy in our ward who just got back off his mission to Bolivia. One of the items he returned with was a scripture cover made by a native Bolivian. And by the looks of it, a native Bolivian witch doctor. It was so over-the-top and strange that I had to take a picture of it, which I offer to you below:


Is it just me or does this look a lot like our Introduction to the Dark Arts textbook we had as first year Hogwarts students? Man, I hated that class. Professor Lugubrius was such an evil taskmaster (which I assume is why he got the job). Although I have to admit, the Mulletus maximus curse which makes the hair on the back of your head grow faster than the top has come in REAL handy over the years.

Anyway, back to the Bolivian missionary. Nothing makes me appreciate the fact that I served in one of the wealthiest and advanced nations on earth than hearing about all the privations that third-world missionaries experience. Gigantic spiders, being served dog meat, and getting infected with a life-threatening bacteria from the Amazon river are enough to give me nightmares. Some of the privations we experienced in Norway included having to choose between salmon steaks and braised reindeer steaks in a burgundy sauce on our flight to the country; running out of sparkling water in the dining car of the train and having to gag down PLAIN water collected from meltwater cascading off a glacier in the Jottenheim mountain range; or having a saleslady in the Ralph Lauren store tell you that the floral tie you're wearing is SO last year! The only way we were able to endure it was knowing that we were serving a higher cause.

Good ol' ballot initiatives

I had to laugh at this article in today's paper:

A measure seeking to commemorate President Bush's years in office by slapping his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot.

The measure certified Thursday would rename the Oceanside Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.

Supporters say the idea is to commemorate the mess they claim Bush has left behind by actions such as the war in Iraq.

Local Republicans say the plan stinks and they will oppose it.


Hmm, let's think of some other public facilities to rename, shall we?

How about renaming that rest area right outside of Boise the Larry Craig Rest Area? Or rename the intersection of 42nd Street and Broadway the Eliot Spitzer Street Corner? Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Germaphobia gone mainstream

Okay, not to brag or anything, but I've been germaphobic since before it was fashionable... like since the 20th century. I can't even walk into a bathroom to get something out of the cabinet without washing my hands. And wash long enough to sing the alphabet song in my head. And the harsher the soap, the better, because I don't want ANYTHING alive on my skin--and that even goes for the epidermis!

(Which reminds me of my zoology class at BYU, where we had to dissect something each and every week. My lab partner and I always seemed to finish early, but we had to stick around to take the end-of-class quiz, so we would always go to the vending machines and get a pop and those nasty "Grandma's Cookies" that taste NOTHING like anything MY grandmother ever made, but I digress. Anyway, we'd go back into the dissection room and eat, always grossing the other students out. But here was my secret to being able to stomach eating a trans-fat laden sugar bomb cookie within 200 yards of a formaldehyde-preserved cat: soap in the wash area that smelled so antiseptic that you could completely disinfect Brittany Spear's toilet... and Brittany Spears herself... with a single wipe. Granted my hands looked like they belonged to a 93-year-old Bedouin that spent his entire life in the Sahara, but by golly, those hands were CLEAN!) Okay, that was a long aside, but bear with me.

So needless to say, I've been a sucker for anti-bacterial products whenever a new one comes out. Antibacterial hand soap: check; antibacterial lotion: check; antibacterial pens: check check (I bought a box); antibacterial kite string: check; antibacterial yogurt: check (although it just tasted like milk). Given all that experience, I think I'm qualified to say that a recent product I saw at Target is a little over-the-top.

Check out this picture I took at the store. Okay, now get a little closer to the monitor... a little closer... a liiiiiitttllle closer... okay, there. Now look at the upper right-hand corner. You see where it says "Microban?" Well Microban isn't a tiny can of spray deodorant, it's antibacterial plastic. Yes, the protractor is made out of ANTIBACTERIAL PLASTIC! While I appreciate porta-potties being made out of Microban, I can't imagine a protractor getting too dirty and certainly not enough to spread disease. Hold on, let me check the Urban Geometry curriculum for the high school here in town... okay, here it is:

Unit 8-Angles; Chapter 2-Protractor exercises.
Measure the following angles:
1. What is the angle where the toilet lid rests on the toilet?
2. What is the minimum angle required of a stream of urine to make it into the urinal?
3. What is the preferred angle one should hold his arm at when shooting up heroin with a used needle?

Well, I stand corrected.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Chemical Brothers - The Salmon Dance

This could be part of the salmon outreach education we do at my work. Can you imagine playing this for senators or governors? (And given the education levels of a lot of them, it's geared right at their demographic!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

But MOM! All the trashy babies are wearing them...



I wonder what people at church would think if Lucy showed up at church sporting these. She's already been in trouble for wearing something sleeveless and where you could see her underpants. SO inappropriate.

They're also available in zebra stripe, hot pink, and black here.

Thought of the day


This is a t-shirt, available at Threadless Designs.
(And no, I don't get any commission from this plug... hold on while I make a call to Threadless... ... ... nope, no commission.)

Man, I feel old

Okay, this is KINDA embarrassing to admit, and I'll list my excuses reasons after the admission, but Margaret and I watched High School Musical II--WILLINGLY. (And before we go on, let me say that our reasons were as follows: 1) We'd watched the first one, but only to get the "4-1-1" on today's tweens and teens as part of an anthropological treatise we've been working on in our spare time titled " Why America is Essentially Screwed." 2) The movie was filmed at the same resort we stayed in when we were in St. George a couple of years back and we wanted to see that awesome pool again, even though it was just on film, and 3) We were curious to find out what wacky things Sharpay and her sexually ambiguous brother were up to now. Um, there were only 2 reasons... )

Anyway, the story goes a little something like this: annoying rich girl is crushing on cute boy trying to earn money, cute boy's cute girlfriend is also trying to earn money, jealous annoying rich girl wants to separate cute boy and cute girl so uses powers of persuasion to get cute boy a job at the country club (the resort), cute boy insists on country club hiring every one of his friends, country club of course does exactly that, since that's what job hiring is really like, wackiness ensues. Well, during the scene where all the friends are just playing in the kitchen, breaking into singing and dancing routines, and eating the food meant for guests, the resort manager had the UNMITIGATED GALL to come in and tell the kids that they had to clock in and out, be at their job station on time, stop eating food meant for guests, and not to breaking into cheesy song and dance routines that scared the guests! Can you believe it? Asking employees to do such things right out of Stalin's playbook! Didn't we fight the Korean War for the right to DANCE?!? And the manager was painted as completely unreasonable for making these demands. Didn't he know that a job was where you hung out at a place with your friends, goofed off, got free food, and most importantly HAD FUN... and got money for for it, to boot! Margaret and I felt really out of the target demographic of the movie when we were commiserating with the manager who had to herd and hand-hold these entitled kids to get any work done. No wonder everyone is hiring illegals... American kids won't work. (Although in their defense, it DOES take a big chuck on time to text message, play Guitar Hero, and keep your Facebook status up-to-date.)

Well that's not going to happen to our Lucy. She's going to develop a work ethic! She can only watch TV for four hours a day, she is limited to 2,500 text messages a month, her personalized Hello Kitty-branded American Express has a strict $15,000 credit limit, and as soon as she turns 6, it's off to the textile mill for her tiny hands to work those threading machines.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Trauma

After two months of paternity leave, including a 10-day trip to Utah, I'm seriously in shock working more than one day a week. A guy can get really used to that REALLY fast. Unfortunately, short of moving to France, I don't know how to get a work week that short (unless I win the lottery, of course... or do whatever it is that Paris Hilton does). And this week is Lucy's 2-month immunizations. Ooo! Looking forward to THAT! Yikes!

Speaking of traumatic, yesterday the headline article in the paper was about a 14-year-old boy who got his arm cut off... I mean 'severed' (for some reason the paper never said cut off, evidently deeming it too graphic or crass--not that that stops them from writing about Paris Hilton's exploits [Wow! TWO unrelated Paris Hilton references in the same post... a new record!) by a boat while he was surfing on the Oregon coast. Well, today's paper had an article about the reattachment surgery and included this quote from the boy's father: "For the level of injury--having your arm completely severed--he's doing very well. It's a hard thing to grasp." OF COURSE it's hard to grasp when your hand isn't attached to your body. Geesh! I wonder if at the obligatory press conference, all those gathered will give him a hand?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Be careful what you pray for!

Ever since that fateful day two weeks ago when Steve Jobs announced the new iPhone, I've been praying--yes I do pray about some things... like Apple products, world peace... you know, things like that. Anyway, I've been praying for a reason to get the new phone, as I couldn't justify (which if you know me is practically an impossibility!) buying a new one after dropping $400 on one just last year. I prayed "[Insert name of diety you think I pray to here], please give me a reason to get the new iPhone so i can use it to bring good to the world and help solve the problem of homelessness with it." I didn't know how my prayer was going to be answered, but i had faith that things would just work out. Well, my prayers were answered yesterday night. The lid to Lucy's liquid vitamins didn't get screwed back on and they spilled all over my phone, getting the cherry-flavored, sticky liquid into the external speakers and microphone. (and don't blame me for sabotage--Margaret forgot to screw it back on, not me) now I can hardly hear the ringer and people can't hear me if I don't yell. I've become one of those annoying people who have to shout into their phones because the mike doesn't work right.

Now I have to wait patiently until July 11 to get my completely justified new phone. See prayers really ARE answered! (Although I should have added the caveat to the prayer that I wanted it answered on July 10 so I wouldn't have to be incovenienced--I hate that! Well, that and answer the prayer in a way that I could still sell my phone on eBay when I get my new one. Alas!)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Appropriate alerts

This weekend, while driving down the freeway, Margaret and I both almost had a heart attack when the very loud, very alarming alert came from our car. And I'm not talking about the nice, melodic alert to remind you to buckle your seat belt (which in a Volkswagen Jetta, by the way, sounds like 'La Cucaracha'). No, I'm talking an alert that sounds so intimidating, so threatening that it's as if the Jetta was telling us that the drive train was about to fall off, the fahrfegnugen generator was about to blow, or the flux capacitor accidentally created an unstable worm hole. It was THAT alarming! Of course Margaret and I both had that rush of adrenaline that comes from the feeling that "oh my gosh, the car is falling apart while we're doing freeway speeds... with a BABY ON BOARD!"

Now imagine my annoyance when I looked down to see that the alarm was for... wait for it... wait for it... the WINDSHIELD WIPER FLUID WAS LOW! Although I guess with German engineers' reputation for efficiency and order, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. But I mean really, is a dirty windshield REALLY a red alert emergency?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Krazee speling

What is up with all the creative name spelling that is sweeping the nation? I think there are two camps, people who name their kids with weird name spellings and those who think they're crazy. In this morning's newspaper, there was a woman whose daughter's name was Madalyn. Is a daughter with the name spelled 'Madeleine' really doomed to a life of stultifying sameness? Although from what I hear, it's REALLY bad in Utah. In fact, here are the twenty most popular girls names from Utah county last year: Haley, Hailey, Haylie, Hayli, Haylee, Halee, Halie, Hali, Haelie, Haeli, Hayle, Hale, Haile, Haily, Hayly, Haly, Haely, Haylei,Halei, and Hayley. Okay, it might not be THAT bad, but still the fact remains that all of those are actual names used in Utah in the past few years!

Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe I should be worrying for not naming Lucy 'Loosie.' Eh, now that I type it out, 'Loosie' looks more like a 30's-era hooch runner during Prohibition. (And coincidentally, her great-great aunt Lucy, who she was named after, was, you guessed it, a 30's-era hooch runner during Prohibition. And she didn't pass down any family recipes for corn mash, barley malt, or 'Reservation Cognac©' so don't ask.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Search for shorts

Today, we went to the.. ugh, I'm ashamed to admit it... the mall. (Don't judge me. We needed, um something for Lucy... yeah, that's it!) Anyway, while we were there, I looked for a new pair of cargo pants. I wore my last pair so much that the seat wore through and I tended to look a little too slutty walking around exposing myself like that. (It's okay here in Portland, but we're going to Utah next week and I'd be sure to get in trouble shortly after getting off the plane.) Well, during our mall travels, I only found two pairs that fit my parameters--namely they weren't too long (I swear most cargo shorts seem more like capri pants) and they have an easy-to-access pocket for my phone. The first pair was at Nordstrom and they were on a 50% off rack to boot! SCORE! Unfortunately I looked down and saw that the original price was $210!!! Yes, $210! For shorts! SHORTS! Even at half price, they better be woven from baby goats that had been given daily brushings by trained monkeys. Then I found the next great pair at Eddie Bauer. In fact they had a pocket that my iPhone fit in EXACTLY! And to make it even better, they were marked down to $19.99 from $60. It was a match made in heaven, which meant of course, that they didn't have my size.

Now I'm still on the look out for cargo shorts. I told Margaret I'd be willing to buy a pattern and fabric for her to sew me a pair and she said that wasn't going to happen. Jeesh!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

So sleepy

Okay, since Lucy was born (and for months prior for Margaret... something about getting up every 20 minutes to pee or something) we haven't gotten much sleep. In fact it has become a precious commodity more valuable than Diet Pepsi our twice-daily 2-hour scripture study. Given that we're both home on new baby leave, we eventually get around 8 hours of sleep, but instead of one long stretch, it's in fits and starts throughout the day. 2 hours here, 4 hours there, 3 minutes while I'm driving and realize I have no recollection of the previous 5 miles, the 40 minutes between getting the sacrament water and the closing prayer... you just find the time.

Anyway, the biggest problem during the night was waking up to feed Lucy. She's been going on a mid-night feeding, then an early morning feeding, then a breakfast-time feeding since she was born. Well last night, what we had been dreaming of finally occurred: she (FINALLY) fell asleep at 10:30 and slept a LOOOONG time. Margaret was planning on a 3:00 feeding, but Lucy wasn't awake. Then at 4:00; still sound asleep. Then at 5:00; still not awake. At this point, I'm going in to check on her to make sure she's still breathing. Finally at 5:30, I turn off the white noise machine hoping to get her to start to wake up, which it does. Phew! I swear, we still didn't get much sleep, as we were up worried that she was sleeping too long. So to recap: we don't get any sleep when she wakes up all the time; and we don't get any sleep when she DOESN'T wake up all the time!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fresh out of the oven



Here she is, fresh out of the oven. You just combine 2 lbs. of sugar, 2 tablespoons spice, and 80 lbs. of panic, worry, anxiety, and frantic nursery remodeling everything nice, bake at 98.6º for nine months, and voila! you got yourself a little girl.

Actually, the picture is of a recent weigh-in we did on Lucy, who we just KNEW had gotten bigger. I mean some of her onesies we could only snap the middle button at the crotch. (And fortunately her bulky diapers prevented them from turning into a baby thong--and that look is so 2005.) Anyway, the most accurate scale we have is a digital kitchen scale, but the scale part is too small to balance a baby on, but when we put a baking sheet down to support her, the readout turned out to be too close to the actual scale part to be able to read the weight. Well, with a glass casserole, our problem was solved! And despite the fact that it looks like we're prepping her to put into the oven, we got a weight on our little not-so-little girl.

On another note, we've officially gotten used to having Ikea close to us. Yesterday we went there for, wait for it... wait for it... JAM. Yes, the store that we once planned meticulously for, pouring over the catalog for weeks, renting vehicles to accommodate our purchases, taking an entire day to drive to Seattle and back for, has now been reduced to a quick stop in to buy a couple jars of food. (Although we did get some meatballs for lunch, so it wasn't JUST for jam.) I guess it's like that old adage that people will travel 1,500 miles to go to the temple when that's the closest one, but they build one in their hometown and they just take it for granted and never go.

And finally, speaking of Ikea, I still feel like I'm in Norway with the embarrassingly long paternity leave that my work offers. I got the first month after Lucy was born completely off, will work one day per week through July, and then three-day-workweeks for another two months. While not EXACTLY Scandinavian-benefits length (Sweden gets 18 months off), it's WAY more than the other guys in our childbirth education class got--most of whom got 2 to three weeks off. And boy let me tell you, I could get used to this one-day work week REAL FAST! (Although not so used to it to have another baby anytime soon.)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Horror/fascination

Over the weekend, Margaret and I were watching brain candy a serious documentary on The Learning Channel called "I Didn't Even Know I Was Pregnant." It was with both horror and fascination that we watched these stories of women (who were all overweight... how else would you not know?) who had either thought they were infertile so stopped taking birth control, were so obese they stopped menstruating, or had taken antibiotics while on the Pill. One couple in particular (the antibiotic woman) struck me as amazing. They said they weren't even thinking about kids on the distant horizon. They went out of town to their cabin and on the way up, she started feeling sick, getting worse through the night, and had such a severe backache by the next morning that her husband took her to the small clinic in town. Imagine their surprise when they found out she was in active labor. Can you even IMAGINE?!? Going away on vacation and coming home with an unexpected baby? They had literally NOTHING prepared. We had 9 months to get ready and still didn't feel prepared. I can't even imagine the feeling of panic at looking in the back seat at a hastily purchased car seat with a baby on that drive home from what was supposed to be a relaxing weekend. YIKES!

And of course, following that show, there was a special on that gigantic family with 16 kids. And guess what, the mom's pregnant AGAIN! Jeesh. That couple is WAY too represented in the gene pool as it is!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

If I Could Hie to Utah in the Twinkling of an Eye...

I'm sure it would be considerably cheaper than our other prospects! Jeesh! We're now at the threshold of driving possibly costing us more than FLYING to Utah. Who could have seen a time when driving was decadent and flying was for the budget-class.

Our Jetta takes diesel, which is currently $4.859 here in Portland. $4.859!!! Can you BELIEVE that? And my grandfather said he would never move to Alaska because their gas cost TWENTY-FIVE CENTS! I can't believe that I'm reminiscing about those halcyon days of 2007 when gas was around $2 per gallon. Now we have to second-guess all our separate trips to the farmers' market, Babies R Us, our therapists, and IKEA and just go to Costco for all those things.

Anyway, what prompted this post was this solution that Deb just sent me: the Verdier! It drove here straight from the 60's by way of the Jetsons. It's retro. It's futuristic. It's solar. It's cool. It comes with a secret compartment to stash your marijuana. It's got it all! Check out their website here.

But since I don't have time to get that van before we want to go to Utah, I'm going to check Expedia and Travelocity to see if they offer last-minute rates for "Twinkling of an Eye"*. Unfortunately I have a nagging feeling that it costs 10% of my income.

*and for all the non-Mormons (and bad Mormons... you know who you are!) out there, this is a mangling of the LDS hymn "If You Could Hie to Kolob." If you want to know more about it, the process is quite involved. Click here to start. (But don't tell me I didn't warn you.)

Bagel adventures

Being that this morning was... the morning, I somehow found myself at Noah's Bagels. After yesterday's disappointing visit (they were plumb out of chocolate chip bagels and fountain Diet Coke! We had to make do with a measly 20 oz. bottle instead of 96 oz. worth of refills from the fountain machine. I don't know how I stayed awake the rest of the day.)

Anyway, while savoring my bagel and caffeine beverage, a homeless guy came in, rummaged in the trash for an empty coffee cup, and helped himself to a free refill. Evidently he's a problem on the street and has been banned from Noah's, Starbucks, and some other stores because of doing stuff like that. Well, the manager got aggravated when he took the coffee cup and asked for a refill of his whole milk macchiato with almond. That was pushing it a little too far. All of this happened without me even noticing, until the cops showed up to escort him off the premises. I got the rest of the story from the manager. I was relieved to find out that I wasn't in danger of being thrown out for the fit I threw yesterday when my order wasn't EXACTLY what I wanted.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An outing with Lucy

Today we finally had the wherewithal to go see the new Indiana Jones movie. I KNOW! Prior to this, the highlight of our coordinating trips has been getting her to her doctor's appointment with 2 minutes to spare!

Since Lucy sleeps something like 20 hours a day, we thought we'd better take advantage of it before she shifts into the sleeping only when it's inconvenient and staying awake the other 23 hours of the day mode. Since we were already pushing our time (how is it possible that just getting out the door with a pack mule's worth of supplies for a three-week-old infant could increase our departure time 400%?), we went to the Taco Bell near the theatre and quickly regretted opting to wait to get Lucy's hepatitis B shot until her 2-month checkup. Yikes! Fortunately I got a corner seat, which allowed me the opportunity to throw myself between her and any oncoming riff-raff. Speaking of which, while at the Taco Bell, I spotted what is surely the rarest of all the mullets: the two-tone! A woman with black hair had a mullet in which all the short hair had been dyed blonde. She looked like she was wearing a possum-skin cap... and not an attractive possum, at that! I'm talking about the kind of possum that looks all grizzled because it only digs in the dumpsters at Taco Bell. I couldn't take my eyes off it, and since I was sitting in a position to casually look in her direction, I was able to steal glances, and eventually this photo, of her the whole time we were eating.



We made it out of the restaurant without any communicable diseases (that we know of) and saw the movie. Lucy was pretty good, but of course during the loud parts, she tended to wake up, so I spent half the movie bouncing her in my arms. Still it was worth it. It felt like our lives weren't completely and irrevocable altered beyond recognition, just completely and irrevocable altered yet recognizable. Our next milestone in that department is to brave a trip to Costco with her.

(On a related note, what is up with businesses putting changing stations right next to the bathroom door rather than in an actual stall? Several people came into the men's room, opening the door to the jarring sight of a naked baby bottom and poopy diaper. I'm sure they weren't interested in getting nachos after THAT!)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Relief Society v2.0

Being outside of Zion©, most of our friends aren't Mormon. While this has its definite advantages, it also has its share of drawbacks. And I'm not just talking about having to be the designated driver 100% of the time. Back in Utah, when someone has a baby, the Relief Society steps in and provides meals for the new family for a couple of weeks. Knowing this, one of our friends organized a similar meal drive for us and boy has it exceeded anything that our prior experience would have prepared us for. Growing up, when the Relief Society brought by food, it was basics like lasagna, meatloaf, or the like. Well, imagine our surprise when we started getting meals like the following:
  • Lamb stew with braised fingerling potatoes, creamy fennel soup, and sourdough bread

  • Falafel, tabouli, fresh pita bread, and roasted vegetables

  • Southern-style beans and rice with fresh-from-the-farmers'-market green salad

  • Salmon steaks with fresh green beans, garden salad, and ambrosia salad

  • Meatballs stewed in a cranberry sauce and GIGANTIC brownies

  • Grilled turbot with harvest grains, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh apricots and cherries

And I'm not exaggerating. In fact, I'm erring on the side of NOT exaggerating. I swear, at the end of this paternity leave, I'm going to be 15 lbs. heavier. I can't believe how fortunate we've been with great friends here in town. (And if you're one of the providers of this bounty, THANK YOU!)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Reports of well-restedness were too premature

Well from the gaps in posting, you might have gathered that we've been otherwise occupied... and do I mean OCCUPIED! The first week or so, we actually got plenty of sleep, but in the past few days, boy has that changed. It's not that she's doesn't sleep--it's just she doesn't FALL asleep. After working for hours to get her to fall asleep, we're not too eager to risk waking her up by laying her down in her crib. The other night, I put her in a zip-up snowsuit so I could lay her down and not disturb her when I laid her down. That worked for her but not for me. Since the suit had a hood and since I'm a paranoid new-parent, I just KNEW the hood was going to smother her. I was constantly getting up to make sure she was still breathing and when I was able to fall asleep, I had dreams where I couldn't breathe, which woke me up to rush in and check on Lucy. Jeesh, now I know why people hire night nannies!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New milestone

Well, our last doctor's visit marked a new milestone in my life. Lucy was getting her 1-week checkup, which included getting weighed (and by the way, she gained almost ONE POUND... yes a 14% gain in only 7 days! Although I'm thinking I could probably accomplish that feat if I lived off cream, too.) Anyway, when babies get weighed, they have to be stripped naked (which the fortunately don't require for adults... that would ruin my "I'm weighing my lead-lined pants" excuse). Well Lucy HATED this and right after the weighing, I, being the inexperienced father that I am, picked her up to console her, only to be repaid for my empathy with a dousing of urine all down my shirt!

Fortunately urine is sterile, or my germaphobia would have required that I drive home from the doctor's office shirtless. As it was, I totally forgot about the incident until I was taking off my shirt that night for a shower and realized that it was the urine-coated one. Despite knowing that the urine was quite benign, it still made me cringe.

WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME!?!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Training wheels

Oy! Last night was our first night flying solo with the new baby. Prior to that, Margaret's mom was visiting, and (being a grandmother who couldn't get enough holding time with the baby anyway) slept in the same room as the baby. Our nights consisted of going to bed around 10 or so, getting up around 2 and 6 for feedings, and passing the baby back to grandma before going back to bed. People were surprised to see how well-rested we looked, but it was all a passing treat.

That WASN'T the routine last night. After staying up with the baby for several hours, with her drifting off only to be startled awake by the sound of dust falling on the carpet or something even LESS noisy, she'd by screaming again. I finally got her to sleep and then didn't dare move for fear that the slight vibration of me moving my hand from her back would start the fussing all over again. Needless to say, Margaret regretted that Diet Pepsi she drank late yesterday afternoon! Now we know that caffeine is a very fickle goddess.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wonders of modern medicine


Well, after nine months of waiting, our little girl was born on Wednesday... right on her due date! (Which is a good thing, given how impatient both Margaret and I are. We even asked about induction two weeks before the due date... we were THAT ready!) It was quite amazing and lots of aspects of the delivery made me thankful for the marvels of modern medicine. Epidurals, induction accelerators, on-demand Diet Coke for the now mothers, and iced diapers for soreness. Yes, you heard me right... iced diapers. The nurses take the tiny newborn diapers, pour them full of clean water, then freeze them. Trust me in that all the women that had access to them right after delivery ABSOLUTELY LOVED THEM... probably more than their husbands at that instant. We were talking about how useful they would be to just keep on hand for all sorts of bumps and bruises, as they have the benefit of staying dry after they've melted. When I was telling this to my grandmother, she remarked, "And they would be great for new brides, too!" Well, yes they would. (And in this day and age, lots of teenagers, too!)

Anyway, we're home now, completely addicted to just staring at our little bee. She's AMAZING! She's very advanced for her age, too. She got yellow poo when she was two days old, when most babies don't get it until they are 3 to 5. Yes, high hopes for this little one.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sacrifices

Yesterday, I passed a new milestone in my life. Margaret wasn't feeling up to venturing out of the house. Being THREE DAYS FROM HER DUE DATE really takes it out of her. But that didn't stop her nesting instinct, as she's been busy sewing liners, curtains, blankets, and reproduction 15th-century hoop-skirted party dresses. We'd bought some baskets at Ikea and she decided to dress them up with a custom designed flannel liner. Well, after making the liner, she decided that it needed something to finish off the piece and found some ribbon to go around the edge. The only problem was she didn't have enough ribbon for all the baskets and since she didn't feel like going out, that left me as the only option to getting some more... at the fabric store... BY MYSELF! Yes, I had to brave Jo-Ann Fabrics alone. I felt like the guy in Into the Wild. In fact at one point I was so overwhelmed in the yarn section that I almost gnawed my own arm off in panic. And to make matters worse, I wasn't given a specific item to buy; I had to use my own judgement and pick a color of ribbon myself. And just my luck, the store's valium bar for men was already closed for the evening. In the end, I just grabbed an entire rainbow of colors to bring back for Margaret to pick herself. Now we'll have so much left-over ribbon that we'll use it to tie our recyclables and floss our teeth.

And for the record, I never want to go to a fabric store unaccompanied ever again.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Obviously a product of the American education system

Check out this sign at the San Francisco protests against the Olympic torch.



Hmmm. Let's ask Jesse Owens.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Zoltar KNOWS!

We rent our videos at the Hollywood Video down the street from us. It's a pretty eclectic collection they have there, too. They get all the counterculture documentaries and angsty gay films, which is what you'd expect on Hawthorne Avenue. What's more puzzling, though, is they carry all the latest Mormon comedies? What's up with that? And lots of times, those films are never in... not that we've tried to rent Mormons and Mobsters over five times but it's NEVER in. (Maybe it's how people are getting their Sopranos fix now that the series is ended.)

Anyway, Hollywood Video now offers a service called "Zoltar," which is a database that takes your previous rental history and offers suggestions of what you would like. We tried at and I was impressed, then mortified by some of the suggestions. Check these out:

Television
Arrested Development-good suggestion, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never seen this show but I think Zoltar got it right that I'd like it.
Big Love-All those Mormon comedies we rent must have tipped Zoltar off that we knew a thing or two about Utah.

Okay, now here's where it gets embarrassing. Check out these suggestions:

Comedy
The Prince & Me 2: The Royal Wedding-?!?!?! Wha? We didn't even rent The Prince & Me 1: The Formulaic Romance!
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen-Huh? I can't even imagine what would have prompted THAT suggestion!
Ella Enchanted-Okay, seriously! I think Zoltar thinks we're a fourteen-year-old girl. Rent High School Musical ONE TIME and look what it gets you!

On a brighter note, we can rent one of Zoltar's suggestions for free! I think we'll get Win a Date with Tad Hamilton Resident Evil.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Manna from heaven


Can you imagine anything more glorious than being caught in a Diet Coke rainstorm? Check out this picture from the biggest Mentos-dropped-in-Coke explosion EVER! Although if it were me, I wouldn't have worn the raincoat and just looked up with an open mouth and a funnel in the hopes of drinking the sweetest rain in the history of rain! As it was, all those hooded raincoats makes the scene look more like some druidic sacrifice to Seltzer, the god of carbonation.

You can read about the event (including more pictures) here. And it happened in a town in Belgium where a good friend of our lives, so Pam, when you read this, let me know in a comment if you got in on the action or saw the Coke River flowing through Leuven.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

In case you weren't feeling inadequate enough

I ran across this quote today that made me feel like I really don't have an excuse to get things done:

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein. — H. Jackson Brown

No pressure! So maybe I should commit to work on a couple of masterpieces, inventing nuclear bombs, feeding starving children... and sleeping with a slave.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prepare to cringe

Okay, not to be completely fixated on baby stuff, but yesterday I stumbled upon this video when I was getting the diaper change video and just had to share it. WARNING! This video may cause former or currently nursing women to cross their arms over their breasts, fall to the floor curled up in a ball, and mumble "they're mine... they're Mine... they're MINE" over and over--just a forewarning).

Speaking of which, that reminds me of a time in Norway when we were visiting a church member that was living with a guy. After talking about the law of chastity one time, the next visit she excitedly told us that for the past week whenever her boyfriend started getting amorous in bed, she crossed her arms over her chest and said no. I'm sure her boyfriend LOVED when we visited after that. This was the same member whose three-year-old wanted to nurse one time while we were visiting and so walked over to her mother and pulled open her snap button shirt for access. Oops!

By the way, I think a good rule of thumb is that if your child asks you to sit sideways so she can watch CSI while she nurses, it's time to wean her.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A glimpse into the future

My uncle sent me this video of fathers changing diapers. Of course in his day (and I'm going by my own father here) men didn't change diapers. My own father would either endure the stench until my mom got home, carry me to my grandmother's house to get changed, or strip me down, hose me off with the garden hose, and let me run around naked... which reminds me of a time in Norway... but I'll write about that later.

How times have changed. Now men are expected to change diapers, help around the house, and take hormones so they can experience the miracle of breastfeeding themselves.

Ah the price of egalitarianism.

And I have to admit, my favorite clip in this video is the gassy baby that blows a cloud of baby powder into her father's face. Juvenile, but classic.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The perfect onesie!


Check out this girls onesie. It's perfect for the new Hawthorne baby. Now if we can get patchouli-scented baby wipes and figure out a way to give a baby dreadlocks we'll be all set to walk in our neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The official fragrance of church


I wonder if this is only available at the Church Distribution Center? Hmm, let me see here. I'll just --click-- check their website --click, click, scroll, scroll-- Bibles, Bang curlers --scroll, scroll-- Pious jewelry, Precious Moments© figurines... oh here it is: Scents --click. What in the world? Only MEN'S fragrances? It says here they refuse to carry Matriarchy. What's up with THAT?

Three weeks and counting!

Well today marks the three week mark before... you know. Twenty-one short days for me feeling the pressure to finish up all the last-minute projects and twenty-one long, drawn out days for Margaret feeling the pressure on her pelvic floor.

The plumber is coming tomorrow to finish the installation, which means we will be practically done and able to move out of the dining room. Phew! Just in the nick of time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Moral dilemma

Okay, I need some advice from the internets... and don't fail me. The fate of my soul is in your hands. So be gentle. Here's the situation:

About five weeks ago, I ordered the fixtures for the clawfoot bathtub online. I ordered the whole shebang, including supply lines, waste line, faucet, shower, shower ring, and soap dish. When I got home and showed Margaret the pictures, she pointed out that she wanted a shower with an additional handheld shower so we could wash the baby, water the plants, and spray down the bathroom to make a burst water line claim on our insurance.... I kid, I kid. We'd never water the plants in the bathtub!

Anyway, I called them the first thing the next morning and told them that I needed to confirm something or other with our plumber and could I put the order on hold. They told me that the order had already been packed but that they would hold it until I contacted them again. In the meantime, we found the fixture that we really wanted, so I called the first place back and cancelled the faucet, shower, and shower ring but left on the order the other things, which they said they would promptly ship. A few days later, a GIGANTIC box showed up on our front porch--much too big for two supply lines and a waste line. I mean, a LION would have fit in that thing! I opened the package and, lo and behold, the entire original order was in the box! At first I was aggravated, as I thought I was going to be stuck with the shipping costs to return it. Then I looked at the shipping invoice: it only had the modified order listed as the contents of the box. At the time, I didn't have the time to deal with the situation, so I just stuck all the boxes upstairs to deal with later.

Okay, fast forward to last week when I was breaking down the shipping boxes for recycling. I noticed a giant neon sticker on the side of the shower fixture box that said, "INSPECT PACKAGE: AFTER 5 DAYS WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGED OR LOST ITEMS" and I thought, "WHAT?" So if something gets lost and the hapless buyer doesn't tell them in 5 days, they're off the hook? That's messed up! Well, that got me to thinking, does it work the other way? Am I responsible for their lost items? Since their self-declared window of claiming loss is long expired without them notifying me, what claim do they have on this stuff? What am I supposed to do to minimize the cost to my eternal salvation yet maximizes what goes in my wallet. (Just kidding). Seriously, though, what should we do? We tried giving the set away to our friends the Burningman's, but they, sensing the bad karma surrounding it, declined.

I know I should just call the company and let them deal with it, but a part of me really wants to screw them for having a policy that probably has screwed a lot of people. So the next time you visit and we offer to let you wash your car with the beautiful clawfoot tub shower and faucet that is mounted on our driveway, you'll how it got there.

...seriously, though... what would YOU do?

...no, seriously... what should I do?

...dude, SERIOUSLY! I'm in a conundrum!

...hold me... uh, but don't judge me... I hate that.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?

Okay, today at the gym, I'm watching CNN as their covering the develop story about the food riots breaking out... well, all over the place. Eight people have died in Haiti in various riots. Their food prices have jumped 87% since last year! Yikes! Egypt's bakers are selling flour on the black market and people in Asia are going hungry because the price of rice has skyrocketed. The headlines seem ripped from Mad Max. (Something that I've been thinking lately, anyway, since diesel is now $4.30 per gallon (!!!) here in Portland! We've cut back as a result... no more driving to the next-door neighbors house for us!) Any day now I'm expecting roving bands of pirates looking to steal gasoline and hearing about a Thunderdome set up just outside the city.

Anyway, with that story fresh in my mind, here I am at Taco Bell waiting for my usual order (soft taco, fresco-style; side of chips; pintos and cheese; and a large pop) when they call my number and they have a crunchy taco, pintos and cheese, and a side of Spanish rice. I pointed out the error and the woman took the wrong items (which hadn't been even opened at this point) and THREW THEM IN THE TRASH! People are literally DYING from not being able to buy food at the same time that people throw perfectly good food away. (Although in my defense, it really wasn't what I ordered.)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Gentle encouragement

This morning reading a daddy blog (Daddy Types), I almost choked laughing reading the following post:

All your kid talks about is butterflies? Fine. Just run with it. They're just dinosaurs for girls. With the Butterflies of the World poster, your kid'll be the best damn lepidopterist this side of Vladimir Nabokov.

Rainbows? All you hear is rainbows? You can go the optical science route, sure, or hustle the kids off to MoMA & PS1 next weekend for the opening of Olafur Eliasson's show. I'm sure there'll be rainbows out the wazoo.


Now for the cream...
You say your kid's got a bad case of the unicorns and faeries? I'm sure it's nothing a few unsupervised screenings of Ridley Scott's Legend can't fix.

Ain't THAT the truth. I'm an adult and that show freaked me out! Shudder.

Anyway, I had to tell our friend Twink (who has a daughter in the danger zone of such things) and Margaret and both of them said the EXACT same thing, "Well what do you show them to cure them of a bad case of the princesses?"

Well? Weigh in, internets. What movie can traumatize the princess urge out of little girls?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Huh?

I guess I REALLY don't know what a newborn baby looks like. And doesn't that just ruin your appetite for a Gordito Burrito from Taco Bell?

Sorry about the lack of blog posts. Our remodel is winding to a close. (The carpet was installed on Friday!!!) I spent yesterday assembling a crib that I had to repair somewhat, as the bars had a pesky habit of falling apart. THAT needed to get addressed, as I absolutely HATE it when my baby's crib collapses on her when she's in it! (And I'm sure she wouldn't be a fan of it, either!) I tested it by getting in it myself, and despite Margaret's estimates at how much the baby weighs, I'm SURE that I weigh more than twenty times the baby.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Beverage of Satan

I forgot to include in my post about the baby shower a little conversation that can only occur when you mix up a range of people ranging from Mormons to pagans--hey Janis!

Anyway, Leslie was talking about coffee and coffee liqueur and was within earshot of a 4-year-old girl from our ward. Upon hearing the profanity "coffee" she whipped around and told Leslie, "You shouldn't be talking about that!"

"Shouldn't be talking about what?"

"Coffee."

"How about liqueur?"

"Not that either."

Margaret told our friend, "She's Mormon" to which Leslie responded, "I figured THAT."

A shower with 30 other people

On Saturday, we had our baby shower (which Margaret used as an opportunity to get this awesome maternity blouse that I had to include in this post!), and I have to say that our hostess Ber outdid herself. I knew she was going all-out when I was talking to her husband last week and he told me that she'd had the landscapers in to do some major work, she braved the crazy weather we've been having to pressure wash their driveway, and had been working on cultivating a hybrid rose variety that matched the official color of the baby shower. She had drawn the artwork for the invitation herself (and got HUGE points with me because my crow in the picture had a fauxhawk. Do you know how hard it is to draw a bird with a FAUXHAWK?!?--I'll give you a clue, it's harder than drawing a conscientious Republican.) Anyway, after hearing all that and knowing how much she was cooking for the event, and knowing that Martha Stewart was agape at being out-Martha'ed, we were REALLY looking forward to the party.

Also leading up to Saturday, we found out that our good friend Leslie was flying in for the event--from ATLANTA! Yes, she was so willing to come to the party that she was willing to leave the glorious South to brave the gray skies, unseasonal snow storms, and pasty-skinned populace that is Oregon in March! Now that's saying something!

Okay, now for the actual party. when we got there, Ber had made a flag with crows sewn on it that was flying over their house... kind of an homage to the Irish flag Margaret sewed for their baby shower that we hosted that you can read about here. (And now it's been almost FOUR years and that flag is still there--barely. Although it looks better than the shed it's covering even though it's an insult to Irish people everywhere.) We came in to find an bunch of friends already there and an AMAZING spread of food. I mean it was so impressive that Margaret took pictures of it. And not only was it artfully staged, Ber had even hand lettered placards describing all the dishes like "Buffalo hash served in a vintage Wedgewood tureen" or "Buffalo and pancetta quiche with handmade crust served in a Target pie plate." Yes, not one but TWO buffalo dishes. We honor their Irish heritage by serving Lucky Charms at their shower and they return the favor with delicious BUFFALO dishes to honor my Indian heritage. Color me sheepish.

There was also a cupcake-decorating station that our friend Stacey had baked HUNDREDS of cupcakes for. (In fact we even got to take home a back of 20 or so... which should last us until tomorrow, at least. And with all the frosting, candies, and other items to decorate them... all within reach of children, that particular station fueled the hyperactivity of every one of the kids at the party, much to the chagrin of all of their parents. I didn't know kids could move so fast until I saw one little boy whose mother was trying to keep him from all the treats, still manage to reach out and grab a handful of M&Ms. I didn't actually see his hand move, one second he was empty-handed, the next it was clutching 58 M&Ms. GREAT! That gives me something to look forward to!

In the invitations, Ber asked that people write a poem to read at the party. They were all really fun, including a verse-by-verse retelling of that 90's song "Don't forget the sunscreen" called "Don't forget the butt cream." Leslie recited this limerick she and Stacey created:

There once was a girl from Utah,
who couldn't get any cute-ah.
Though a bun in the oven,
may slow down the lovin',
but look at the size of those hoot-ahs.

I think we have next year's Poet Laureate!

There was also a contest to come up with an Indian name for the baby, which had some great entries, including Runs with Scissors, Tells Tall Tales, Dances Like Injured Heron, Shops at Ikea, and our favorite Running Nose (which has the side benefit of rhyming with our last name! It was meant to be!)

After visiting with some of our favorite people and gorging on too much great food and opening some amazing presents that we still don't have a room to put them into, as the remodel is STILL underway!, we stumbled home completely spent and with a bunch of leftovers and sense of gratitude to all our friends that made the party incredible and a sense of overwhelming relief that we didn't have to clean up after it!

Thanks Ber, Paul, Stacey, Brent, Janis, Leslie, Cheron, and everyone else who played a part in putting on this amazing production. We promise to let you hold the baby, change the baby, visit the baby, change the baby, rock the baby, change the baby, and change the baby ANY TIME you want.