Month: May 2007

34

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A couple of weeks ago, my wife purchased for me a new shirt and some shorts for my birthday. When I opened the box containing the shorts, she said, “I think they’re your size (34), but they look big.”

Sigh…

Now, I have no illusions that I’ve maintained my pre-marriage weight. I mean, who can with all the dining out that today’s lifestyle almost requires; not to mention all the junk we have lying around the house for the kids. And oh Lord, but I love cheese!

In an attempt at balancing out my slovenly lifestyle, I also work out approximately 4-5 times per week in addition to any yardwork I do in the interim, so ultimately, I blame my mom’s genes for my sluggish metabolism. And I can’t expect umpteen cups of coffee to keep me ramped up when faced with 8 hours of office-cubicle chair sitting.

But it’s a wake-up call when your wife, very innocently, says you look fat. So here I am today eating protein shakes and fruit, while just trying to make it through the day without gassing the place out. (did I say that out loud?)

Coincidentally, or not, I also turned 34 this year and I sincerely hope this doesn’t become a new trend. When I’m sixty, I’d rather not have a similarly numbered waist size.

Kids: 40 years from now when you find this blog somewhere and you read it, don’t think of your old dad as a narcissistic schmutz. Just remember that once, I too aspired for underwear model greatness.

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Tummy Time

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For nigh on two months now, our youngest son has enjoyed sleeping in his crib, on his stomach.

GASP!

Reason: When he was colicky, not even the beloved Fisher Price Swing would calm him down, but sleeping on his tummy did. Hey, you put up with a screaming kid for two months and see what levels of unbelievable irresponsibility you’ll sink to. From my viewpoint, sleeping on his tummy is a minor transgression.

I know, I know, we’re terrible parents, what with the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and all. Let me stress here that he has been able to hold his head up by himself the whole time and we never cover him with a blanket any higher than to his waist. So there’s very little chance he’ll suffocate in any way, shape or form.

Yesterday, he started daycare and they made it very clear that they “could not/would not” put him on his stomach to sleep. My wife said, “OK, but he’s gonna cry.”

And he did. However, when my wife checked on him during her lunch break, he was on his tummy sound asleep. This morning though, we were told that they got in trouble yesterday (State Law: and who the hell tattled anyway?) and that if we wanted them to continue to put him on his tummy we’d need a Dr’s note.

Really? Is this the level of government intervention we’ve fallen to? What happened to letting the parent decide what is best for his or her child? No, I’m not niaive. I know that parents have been subjected to the whims of the state for years (vaccinations, spankings, etc) but telling me how my child can and cannot sleep is a little over the top.

But really, let’s look at the reasons for this Law. Here are some quotes regarding SIDS:

  • Exactly why SIDS occurs remains elusive.” Mayo Clinic
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the sudden death of an infant under 1 year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation…” SidsCenter.org

So I think we can all agree that we don’t know for sure why SIDS occurs. However, to be fair, statistics also say that since the whole “Back To Sleep” campaign started, SIDS rates have declined by 38%.

But still, the “guesses” as to why SIDS occurs include everything from Electromagnetic fields, to pet dander, to vaccinations. In fact, studies show that vaccines are overwhelmingly the #1 choice for the cause of SIDS:

” A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that children diagnosed with asthma (a respiratory ailment not unlike SIDS) were five times more likely than not to have received pertussis vaccine.(1) Another study found that babies die at a rate eight times greater than normal within three days after getting a DPT shot.(2) The three primary doses of DPT are given at two months, four months, and six months. About 85 percent of SIDS cases occur at one through six months, with the peak incidence at age two to four months.” ThinkTwice.com

Bottom line: While I’m sensitive to the argument that sleeping on the tummy increases the chance of SIDS, I also subscribe to the theories that there is generally an underlying problem that causes SIDS and that sleeping on the tummy is not the cause.

Really, I’m more ticked about the government’s involvement. From seatbelts to my child’s sleeping patterns, they’re overstepping their bounds.

Oh to be loved…

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Dads hold special places in the hearts of their children, or so I like to believe. Being the disciplinarian in our family, I understand why my “eldest” typically prefers mom, over dad, for most playtime activities, and generally for anything else whenever we are both around. Which I’m fine with. I grew up an only child for the most part, so my imagination skills are somewhat lacking (when I was a kid, my idea of “fun” by myself was putting on old 45 records of “Jerry Clower” and reciting the jokes along with him); plus I get restless sitting on the floor moving little Thomas the Tank Engine wooden trains around the tracks for an hour. Call me crazy.

Last night was not unlike any other night. I cooked dinner (breakfast food, yum!) and my wife and I sat down with the baby at the table and my eldest son, who hasn’t pooped in like 4 days, decided he didn’t care to join us, yet again. I, attempting to bring back the “family” in “family dinner” told my son to come to the table and sit with us even if he didn’t want to eat–“Dammit!” (OK, I didn’t actually say the word, but my tone pretty much did)

Eldest Son, “NO! I want you to go to work.”

Whaddya gonna do? I finally got him to the table under threat of both a spanking (Gasp! Yes, folks, I DO spank my children), and at the risk of his losing a happy face, which means that getting that new train he’s been wanting has to wait yet another day until some random point in the future.

After dinner, I went out to water plants. My wife comes out the door, then my son and she says, “What were you going to tell daddy?”
Son: “I’m sowwy daddy for huwting yow feewings.”

How can you stay mad at that? I know, I know, SUCKER!

Guilty as charged.

Temporary Insanity

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If we’re all truthful with ourselves (and the Internet), there are times, as a parent, when you question your ability to follow through. When the baby has been crying non-stop for hours, or, it’s waaay past any sane person’s bedtime and the baby is still going strong, while you’re little more than a walking zombie, I would imagine most of us empathize (if not sympathize) with these parents who flip out and do something unspeakable to their children. I truly believe that in those times, parents do temporarily go out of their mind. And I don’t mean that in a glib sort of way. I mean that in the most medically-relevant way possible. No loving parent would ever willingly do something bad to their children, but it takes patience of almost god-like proportions to remain calm and nurturing when the baby is at its worst.

That was me last night.

After having been up for nearly 5 hours with no nap, our little “angel” had gone to sleep numerous times, only to wake up the second you tried to put him down. I’d give him a bottle, and he’d suck on it with enough force to unclog a straw clogged with cheese grits–all the while grunting and breathing as if he’d just run a 10K marathon.

I was to the point of trying to find ear plugs so I didn’t have to listen to the grunting. I mean, I’ve heard of baby’s crying and it driving parents crazy, but just their breathing? What’s wrong with me when that noise makes me want to see if I can put my hand clean through the sheetrock AND the stud it’s attached to?

Luckily, there are two of us and I finally passed him off around 9 p.m. where he struggled for more than an hour more with my wife before succumbing to exhaustion.

Something’s gotta give. My prayer, “Dear God, after putting up with colic for nearly 3 months before you gave us a smile to hang onto, please make him want to go to bed by 8, so I can feel like a normal human being again. Thanks.!


MSNBC "My Snobby News Broadcasting Company"

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Having a pickup truck, I realize that I use more gasoline than I need to. However, when one considers how much money I save each year in delivery charges for all the stuff that I haul in my truck (mulch, lumber, plants, etc.) I more than make up for it. This also means that a pickup truck is a necessity for me. Is it what I would choose had it my way? No. I’d have a passenger car so that I’d room for myself, my junk and my two kids’ car-seats.

That’s why news stories like those run on MSNBC, titled, “Gas Price Woes” tick me off so much. In this video, a reporter interviews people on the street about their gas usage. Now, I’m sure they handpicked which interviews to include, therefore it is both a politically- correct spot, including both white-bread and minority Americans, and a spot that covers all intelligence levels.

For complete coverage, there is the cab-driver, who barely speaks any English, claiming that all oil “sucks.” There is the lucid soccer-mom defending her SUV by saying that with two kids, she needs a larger automobile just to be able to take them and a friend anywhere (because remember, you can’t put children under 85lbs in a front seat). And finally, there is the attractive minority figure exhaulting public transportation.

The kicker though, is the ending where the report first shows two people side-by-side—one biking, the other roller-blading—and the reporter can be heard saying, “Soaring gas prices have some people considering alternative methods of transportation, but others…just don’t seem to care.”

As a writer, I know that anything you say in a story should relate back to the material referenced within the story. Given that, the reporter must be referring to the callous soccer mom who refuses to sell her mini-van so that she can pay $5K more for a “green” SUV that, when you consider any loss she takes on her current vehicle, plus the additional cost of the new vehicle, “might” pay for itself after 3-4 years.

Or perhaps she’s talking about the millions of Americans who do not live in New York or some other major metropolis where riding the subway to work is an accepted way of life. Excuse me for wanting to live in the relative quiet of the suburbs, which also means that in order to get to my office, I have to drive for 30-40 minutes.

Ms. Reporter, it’s not that people don’t care, we don’t have a choice. If we all went out and tried to sell our SUVs today, it would tank the market and nobody would get anything out of it to put forward on a new vehicle. Sure, it’d be great for the auto-makers, but not so hot for the consumer. I guess I could stop going to the grocery store, or maybe I could just quit work and sponge off the government. Nah, that won’t work either. Oh, I know, let’s stop driving to church and quit going to shopping malls where our hard-earned dollars help keep the economy going.

Truly, the ignorance in this country is astounding. And the media are as liberally biased as they ever were. The sad thing is, America has the resources within our own soil to fix this problem, albeit temporarily (for like 150 years in the future), but every time we make a real attempt at tapping into it, the oil barons lower crude oil prices to a point where Shale oil production can’t compete. Then, once all Shale technology development and production has stopped, guess what? Yep, crude oil prices skyrocket again.

Couple that with America being too afraid of alienating our foreign friends to do anything about OPEC’s monopoly and we get what we’ve gotten. It makes me sick, it really does.


I weep for my children’s future, and I apologize for the legacy we’re leaving them.

Post-PGA Postulates

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As you know from my earlier blog, I snagged tickets to this past weekend’s AT&T Classic at nearby Sugarloaf Country Club in Duluth, GA. For many and various reasons, no really big names played this weekend. There were no Tiger’s, no Mickelsons. Arguably the biggest name there was recent Master’s winner Zach Johnson who went on to win. It’s a funny thing about these PGA events. I understand that the players schedule which ones they’ll play months in advance, and they must pay a fee to do so. Even still, many don’t show up to play. For instance, Phil Mickelson won last week, so he decided to skip this week. I can’t say I blame him, but what gets me, are how the other player’s respond.

Now me, if I’m really good at golf, but there are one or two people better than me, and one (or both) of those people are skipping an event, I’m damn-sure gonna show up and play. I mean, if I’m playing against a field of people that I can beat 3 out of 4 days in a week, you can bet it’s worth it to me. And the AT&T Classic winner was walking away with nearly $1 million, so it’s not like it was a low-paying gig either.

But anyway, my hats off to the organizers. We arrived around 11:30 and immediately got on a bus and was shuttled to a drop-off point near the 17th fairway. Crowds were manageble along the course due to the sheer length of the thing. I mean, with several thousands yards of golf course and a couple of thousand bench seats, crowd control was pretty easy.

We walked back and forth from the 15th-17th greens, and finally ended up at the 18th late in the afternoon where the real circus was going on. Between the corporate sponsors and their bar-b-que’s and open bars, and the under-18 entitlement crowd and their trust-fund parents living it up, there wasn’t much room to do much but sit and bask in the glow of all that money.

We watched about four group drive down the 18th fairway, most opting to lay it up short rather than pitch it across the water and risk a penalty shot. There were some good moments on the green, but most seemed just glad to be off the course so that they could go grab a beer to wash down their Vicodin. Most were gracious enough to sign some autographs for the kids and that always warms my heart.

All in all it was a good day. Got there late, left there early and still home in time to help with the fussy baby. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

Silly "Box of Chocolates" metaphors

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In a shameless attempt at generating visits, from anyone at all, to my Blog, today’s posting center’s around last night’s episide of “The Office.” Fans of the show will instantly know what I’m talking about, but for the unitiated; “The Office” is a tongue-in-cheek parody of office life for many of today’s White-Collar workers. Complete with eccentric personalities and a complete lack of privacy, it works because its outrageousness is based in reality.

Last night’s episode was the culmination of a season’s worth of plotlines. Not the least of which was a new job at their corporate office in NY, that several office workers were interviewing for. In the end, (SPOILER!) the least likely candidate, and the one they didn’t focus on at all, got the job. He is a recent MBA grad working as a sales rep, but who, in a year hasn’t made a single sale. His only requisite experience being, apparently, his advanced degree.

This got me thinking…until a few years ago, I didn’t have a degree and had been fairly successful in my career. I hit a wall though and realized one was necessary, and so went back and finished. But despite my having a degree now, there will always be a part of me that believes an education is a poor substitute for real experience. Which is why “The Office” is popular with a diverse range of people. The MBA-types will see the show and think, “With his education, he has potential and that’s what really matters.” The non-advanced degree types will likely say, “Yep, that’s what usually happens. I work my butt off and look where it gets me.”

Both are right of course, which means neither is REALLY right at all. The not-so-hidden message in last night’s episode is that getting ahead in this world is never as cut and dried as you might think. You may be well-qualified and still not get the job. Timing has a lot to do with it too.

Which of course, brings me back to, well, um, ME. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing at my current job in 2 months. Truthfully, none of us really do. I may be at a crossroads whereas in one direction, I can stick it out doing what I enjoy doing, all the while hoping that I get to keep doing it and that eventually doors will open. The other road leads to a possible new position doing very little of what I’m comfortable doing, but which would almost undoubtedly lead to more opportunities down the road.

What to do what to do?…

In some respects, each day is like the season finale of a tv show; full of resolved plotlines and possible new avenues of exploration. I just hope that I don’t have to wait until next summer to see what happens next.