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


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?