Friday, April 19, 2019

Where's the 5-Day Forecast?

I'm thinking about going on a picnic this weekend. What do I want to see? The five-day forecast.

I need to put some weed-n-seed down on the lawn, but I need to know if it's going to rain in the next few days. What do I want to see? The five-day forecast.

I've got that coupon for a free car wash. Should I use it today, or wait until the weather is better? The five-day forecast would be helpful.

Camping? Five-day forecast. Boating? Five-day forecast. Golfing? Five-day forecast. Barbecue? Propane. (And the five-day forecast.) Planting a garden? Five-day forecast. Burying some bodies at a remote location? Five-day forecast.

Basically, any time I see the weather-person on the television, there's only one thing I want to see: the five-day forecast!

That's a nice five-day forecast!
But, they never go right to the five-day forecast, do they? They'll talk about yesterday's weather. (Nobody cares about yesterday's weather.) Maybe they'll talk about an interesting storm developing in Des Moines. (Nobody cares about the weather in Des Moines.)

Sometimes they'll even get up there, talk about a few things, point at a few other things, not give the five-day forecast, then have the gall to say something like, "I'll be back in a few minutes with the five-day forecast." 

The weather-person should never appear on the screen without giving the five-day forecast! They should start with the five-day forecast, finish with the five-day forecast, and do the five-day forecast in the middle! All we really want is the five-day forecast! If only there was some way we could make them go straight to the five-day forecast! 

Wait. What's that? You say there's an app on my phone? You say I can just click on an icon and get the five-day forecast any time I want it? I can even look up the five-day forecast for Des Moines if I want? Wow!

Guess what weather-person? You've just become obsolete.

Now if we could just get an accurate five-day forecast!

Edited from a post originally published on 4/18/2017.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The People You Meet In Line at Disneyland

If you go to Disneyland (or any other amusement park) you're going to spend a lot of time waiting in line. It might be a ten minute line, it might be a 45 minute line, or it might be a two hour line. As you wait, you'll come across all kinds of people with all kinds of ways to wait in line. Here are just a few of them:

The Face Fowarder--These people pay a great deal of attention to the line and how it is moving. They are always facing forward, and always ready to move when the people in front of them do.

The Herder--This is the one person from a group that feels the need to constantly get everyone else's attention and shoo them along if the line is moving. They frequently say things like, "Go! Go! The line is moving!"

The Prodder--This is the person who continually taps the people in front of them to remind them that the line is moving. Very similar to "The Herder," except he prods total strangers, not just people from his own group.

The Phonies--These are the people who are always on their phones and never notice when the line is moving. They are the ones who "The Prodder" and "The Herder" prod and herd.

Lining up like cattle.

The Conversationalist--This is the person who talks to those near them in line. By the time you reach the front of the line, you will know where "The Conversationalist" is from, how many children and/or siblings they have, their birthday, their favorite color, and the reasoning behind at least one of their tattoos.

The Personal Space Invader--This person will be close enough to you that the distance between you can more properly be measured in millimeters than in centimeters. (If there is any distance between you.)

The Hat In the Back--This is a specific kind of "Personal Space Invader" whose hat brim is constantly touching you.

The Phone In the Back--This is a specific kind of "Personal Space Invader" whose cell phone is constantly digging into your back.

The Gameplayers--These are the people who pass the time in the line by playing games with each other, like "Rock, Paper, Scissors," "20 Questions," or "Backgammon."

Rock, paper, scissors, wait.

The Let's Do Luncher--These people will use the line as an opportunity to have a snack. It might be as little as a bag of chips, or it might be a full three-course meal.

The Chain Swinger/The Fence Sitter--These people will sit on whatever it is that is dividing the line, whether it be a chain or a fence.

The Stop-the-World-I'm-Taking-a-Picturer--There is absolutely nothing more important than the photograph that is being taken of these two people in line with a "May Cause Motion Sickness or Dizziness" warning sign directly behind them. (They'll cherish that picture forever!)

The Informant--This person will tell everyone who wants to know (and many who don't) everything about the ride they are waiting in line to go on.

The In-the Mapper--This person will use their time in line to look at their map of the amusement park so they can plan out where they will be going next.

So, I'm in my map....
The Squatter--This person will plop down on the ground--sitting, squatting, or lying down--in an effort to get comfortable.

The Wait...Wait...Wait...Now Go-er--If the line moves in front of them, this person will hold their ground and wait...until they deem the distance long enough to be worth the effort to walk.

The Hold My Spotter--This person will ask you to hold their place in line while they leave to go to the bathroom/do some shopping/rob a bank. They fully expect to have the same spot in line when they get back.

Hey, did I just find Waldo?
The Line Crowder--This person will just blatantly crowd into the line. They might pretend to know the people in front of them, or the people behind them, but they don't.

The Line Nazi--This person will take it upon himself to supervise and police the entire line, making sure no one crowds, everyone behaves, and the line moves along in an orderly fashion. They act like they are an employee of the amusement park, but they are not. (No one likes "The Line Nazi.")

Friday, April 12, 2019

Eating Out with Kids: It's an Adventure!

It's always an adventure when you take four kids out to eat at a restaurant.

As we entered, the host asked us, "How many?" It's a simple question. Unfortunately, the answer isn't quite as easy. I'm never sure which one of these to go with:

1. "There are six of us."--this answer is simple and true, but it lacks the basic information that a large percentage of those six might end up flinging food across the room.

2. "There are two adults and four kids."--now we are forcing the host to do math. Also, this answer doesn't take into account the wide-ranging age difference between the kids and how that will effect the dining experience for all involved. And there's the question of how many kid menus will be needed.
Kid menus: Fewer pages; more crayons.
3. "There are four of us, plus two kids."--this makes the two younger children seem less important than the two older ones. It also makes the two older children seem like adults. (They are not.) (Despite what they might think.)

4. "There are two adults, two big kids, and two little kids."--and a partridge in a pear tree.

5. "There are two adults, a nine year-old, a six year-old, a two year-old, and an eleven-month old."--this is a good way to totally confuse the host. But, this is how we introduce the family at the movie theater or anywhere else that charges kids differently based on age.

6. "There are six of us, but two will be in high chairs."--this is the one we went with this time. It was only partially confusing.

Unfortunately, the host heard that as "four people and two high chairs," so he directed us to a table with four chairs around it and room for only four people. Apparently he didn't think the kids in the two high chairs needed access to the table.

Eventually he found us a table for six, pulled a couple of chairs away, and tried to put the two high chairs next to each other, not realizing there must be an adult between the two high chairs at all times.

The table for six was the perfect size for us. Or at least it should have been. If we each had a sixth of the table we would have been fine. But, an eleven month-old baby has a tendency to grab anything he can reach, ranging from salsa, soda, salt shaker, straws, spoons, forks, and/or knives. So, in order to keep things out of his reach, the rest of us had to scrunch together, giving him almost half of the table to himself.
You would think he can't reach any of his brother's french fries. You would be wrong.
It's a little-known fact that babies can reach up to three times farther than their body length.

When they brought our food to us, the server warned our older children, "The plate is very hot!" Then he told the two year-old, "Your plate is not hot. You can touch it." This was true. However, the food on the plate was very hot, as she promptly discovered when she flung a steaming hot french fry into her mouth.

If it's such a hassle to take the kids out to eat, you may wonder: why even bother? That's easy. We have to wrangle the children at dinner whether we eat out or at home, but at the restaurant we don't have to cook and we don't have to do dishes. Sometimes it's just nice to let somebody else clean up the french fries off of the floor.

Edited from a post originally published on 4/11/2017.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Things We Do For Our Kids!

We say we'll do anything for our children. Is it true?

Well, because my kids asked me to, I strapped myself into a rocket that launched me into the darkness at hundreds of miles per hour, jostling me around for at least 20 minutes before I was finally able to escape. (Some of those figures might be slightly exaggerated.)

We recently went to Disneyland, and my oldest children are of the awkward age (11 and almost 9) where they want to do some of the more adventuresome rides, but they don't quite feel comfortable doing them without an adult present. Unfortunately, I am the adult in that equation.

They wanted to ride Space Mountain. I had been on Space Mountain years ago and felt absolutely no desire to go on it ever again. I don't understand the appeal of it. The ride shoots off with incredible velocity into pitch blackness so you are unable to see when the twists, turns, and drops are coming, as the centripetal and/or centrifugal forces turn your whole being into some form of pudding.

Nope, count me out.

But, the kids really wanted to do it, and they wouldn't do it without an adult. So, there I was strapping myself into the rocket. The ride was worse than I remembered it. Usually you would say it was a good thing if the ride lasted longer than the line you had to wait in to get to it; not so with Space Mountain. It seemed to last forever.

When it finally stopped, I staggered off of the ride. The kids loved it. (Of course they did, they don't know any better.) As you exit the ride you come across a set of four or five monitors. Apparently, at a particularly jarring part of the ride a picture is taken of the riders that can be purchased and kept as a souvenir of your survival of this death trap. There is usually a crowd around these monitors, as people try to find the photo of themselves. As we approached, the entire group of people were not seeking out their own pictures. Instead, they were looking at one particular monitor, pointing at it and laughing. They were laughing at this:

Is that a man or a giant, troubled beet?
No one likes to be the object of ridicule, but when I saw the picture, I had to laugh, too. I looked like a giant, red-faced buffoon about to crash head-on into an 18-wheeler, while surrounded by carefree children with smiles on their faces. I would say I hate this picture, but it honestly sums up exactly how I felt during this ride.

And it proves that I would do anything for my children, even if it makes me look like a huge, frightened radish, and set me up to be ridiculed by a group of total strangers.

[Later that day, in an effort to reclaim some of the "cool Dad" points that I lost with the Space Mountain picture, I took the kids on Splash Mountain. (I actually like Splash Mountain. I can see what is coming, and it doesn't rattle my brain quite so much.) I knew when the Splash Mountain photo would be taken, so I tried to look slightly less frightening for it.

Not quite as scary.
No, it didn't make up for the horror of the Space Mountain picture, but it let them know that their Dad was still willing to do anything for them, even if it meant walking around the rest of the day looking like someone with some serious bladder control issues.]

(This photo was taken after Splash Mountain, not after Space Mountain!)

Friday, April 5, 2019

I Have Thousands of Pictures On My Phone (Some Are Even Worth Keeping!)

These days everybody has a camera in their pocket. If you want to take a picture of something, you pull out your phone, take anywhere from one to forty-seven photos, then slide your phone back into your pocket. Next, you look at the pictures, decide which one or two you like the best, and delete all of the rest.

(Ha ha! Just kidding. You keep all of those pictures on your phone until the day you have a really important picture you want to take, but you can't take a picture because your phone memory is too full of all those pictures you never got around to deleting.)

Back in the day, we didn't take as many pictures. Why? Because we were limited by the number of photos available. Usually a roll of film or a disposable camera (remember them?) would hold 24 pictures. Because of the scarcity of available pictures, we were much more selective as to what we would take pictures of. (Not nearly so many selfies, or photos of food.)

Like vinyl records, only the really cool people still have disposable cameras.
That's not to say there weren't any bad pictures taken back then, just not so darn many of them! (And we didn't know they were bad until a week or two later.)

Today, we can take as many pictures as our phones will store. That's hundreds of pictures, or thousands of pictures, or maybe even hundreds of thousands of pictures. As a result, we are not very discerning about what we take pictures of. If it's a useless picture, we'll just ignore it. But we'll still carry it around on our phone for months, and we'll still download it onto our computers.

The other day I was at the grocery store and my wife wanted me to pick up some popcorn for her. (She's a school teacher and needed it for some class project.) She wasn't sure how many bags she wanted, because she didn't know how big the bags were. So, I took a picture of the popcorn, texted it to her, and asked her how many bags I should buy. (Two.)

That's Korn spelled with a "K" so you know it's gotta be good!
Now I have a picture of a bag of popcorn on my phone. And, that same picture has been downloaded to my computer. Why did I take this picture? Because I can take a pretty much unlimited amount of pictures. Why do I still have this picture? Because I'm too lazy and/or indifferent to delete it.

As a result, I've got a lot of pictures like this one taking up space on my phone and computer:
Aside from the blurriness, I also very much like the random socked feet on the left.
But, that picture is a piece of art compared to some of the others, like this one:
The Doorway to Your Soul.
Or this one:
'Ears to you!
The thing is, pictures like these will never be deleted. Oh, we'll say things like, "One of these days I'm going to go through all of my pictures and organize them," but it won't ever happen. These pictures will stand the test of time. And because we've got so much room on our phones, the blurry ears will forever be a monument to how terrible we are at photography.

Edited from a post originally published on 4/7/2017.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

You Won't Have Memories Unless You Do Something Memorable

I got on Facebook the other day, and one of those "Memories" popped up, showing something I had posted a few years ago. It was a really cute video of my daughter. My wife was holding up Skittles and asking her what color they were. When she got to the green Skittle, my daughter declared it was "Hulk Smash" color. It was very cute.

A few days earlier, another "Memory" popped up. This one was a picture of one of my daughters sitting on the floor of our pantry, eating from a large pile of Cheerios she created by dumping a full box on the ground. It also was very cute.

Whenever those memories pop up, they make me smile. It's fun to think back on happy times and fun things that we did in the past. But then I started thinking...have I done anything this week that I would want to remember years from now?

What have you done lately that you'll want to remember?

Remembering the past is all good and well, but we actually live in the present. I spend a lot of time sitting around staring at my phone. That's not something I'm going to want to remember in the future. We won't have any memories unless we do something memorable.

So, I've made up my mind to spend more time doing things that I'll actually want to remember. I'll play with the kids more. I'll go to the park with the kids. I'll play games with them. I'll go on dates with my wife. I'll do things instead of reading about what other people have done.

Memories are great, but they'll be even better if we're living right now in the present.

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Dance of the Chicken Nuggets

I gave my daughter some chicken nuggets for lunch. I figured there were two things that could happen:

1. She eats them.
2. She doesn't eat them.

Both of these outcomes are favorable to me because if she eats them, then I have succeeded in feeding her lunch; and if she doesn't eat them, then I, as her Dad, can eat all of the chicken nuggets that are left.

It's a win-win situation. Either she eats the chicken nuggets, or I eat the chicken nuggets. It's all good.

Or so it would seem.

My daughter, however, had a different idea. She tried, as usual, to do whatever she could to mess up my plan. She had a two-prong attack:

A. Eat the least amount of chicken nuggets as possible and also...
B. Eat some of each nugget in order to prevent me from eating the nugget.

When she finished, it looked a little something like this:

Five nuggets. Five bites.
She executed her plan to perfection. She had five chicken nuggets. She took five bites. She took one bite out of each nugget. She minimized the amount of nugget eaten while maximizing the damage to each individual nugget. She had won the chicken nugget war!

Or so it seemed.

She forgot one simple fact: Daddy has no shame. You see, she is my third child, so I've been to this rodeo before. My first child was able to fend me away from her chicken nuggets by taking a bite out of each one. But, by the time I've gotten to Thing 3, a little slobber is not going to stop me. If Daddy wants a chicken nugget the only way for her to keep Daddy from eating that chicken nugget is to eat all of it so there is none left for Daddy.

For Daddy, chicken nuggets are always a win-win situation. (Especially with honey-mustard sauce!)

Edited from a post originally published on 3/28/2017.