Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Get Up and Get Out!!!

Sometimes that recliner is just a little too comfortable.

You know you should get up, get out, and do something, and you're sure that you will...but in a few minutes. Not right now. You're cozy in the chair. You've got your smart phone and you're cruising through a game of Candy Crush. You're mindlessly watching another episode of Family Feud. (Man, that Steve Harvey sure can make anything sound like a sexual innuendo.) Or, you're scrolling through the recipes, political diatribes, and mindless nostalgia that Facebook has become.

You'll get up and do something...in a minute.

And while you're sitting there in the chair, what are the kids doing? Playing quietly? Reading? Moping? Fighting with each other? Getting into things they shouldn't? Continually interrupting you so you lose track of which Candy you are supposed to be Crushing?

Did you know that if you get up out of the chair and interact with your kids, that they are less likely to misbehave? (I have no scientific study to cite to back up that statement, but it sure seems like common sense to me.)

Let me ask you a question: What are your kids more likely to remember, yet another day of you sitting in the chair staring at a screen, or that time you took them to the children's museum?

Which do you think she'll remember more, this, or you sitting in your chair playing with your phone?
When your kids grow up and look back at their childhoods, they will definitely think of the times you played with them at the park, went hiking with them, played basketball with them, or did anything outside with them before they think of all the times they tried in vain to get your attention while you sat there like a big, giant lump.

And what about you? What will you remember? Will it be that list of "Ten Things the Producers of Mork and Mindy Didn't Want You To Know" on Facebook? (And the 24 times you had to click the "NEXT" button to get through it.) Or will you remember the look on your girl's face the first time she gets the courage to go down the BIG slide?

It's all up to you. Look, I know the chair is soft and cozy. But, when you look back on their life will you ever say, "Remember all the times I sat in that comfortable chair, doing nothing?" I don't think so. Laziness never was happiness.

Friday, September 15, 2017

All Generalizations Are Bad

Yes, I'm from Idaho. But, no, I'm not a potato farmer.

Did you know there a lot of people in Idaho (the vast majority, in fact) who don't grow potatoes for a living? It's true! There are school teachers, factory workers, nurses, truck drivers, hair stylists, college professors, politicians, garbage collectors, pawn shop owners, fry cooks, custodians, and nuclear scientists living in Idaho who have never pulled a potato out of the ground.

Amazingly enough, there are also farmers in Idaho who are not potato farmers! I know this for a fact, because I grew up on a farm in Idaho, but the only time I ever saw a potato was on my dinner plate. We grew wheat, barley, and alfalfa, and we raised cattle. But no potatoes.

People make assumptions and generalizations based on limited information quite frequently. They hear the word "Idaho," and the first thing that comes to mind is potatoes. So they immediately jump to the conclusion that if you are from Idaho, you must be a potato farmer.

It happens all the time. You live in Los Angeles? Oh, you must want to be an actor. You're a Mormon? So, how many wives do you have? She's so pretty, she must have been a cheerleader. (And she's probably not very smart.) Look how tall you are. You must have played college basketball.

Just because I like posing in front of over-sized potatoes doesn't mean I'm a male model.

Some of these generalizations are pretty harmless. But, sometimes they're not. You accepted welfare? Oh, you must be a lazy freeloader. You're a Republican? Oh, you must be a racist. You voted for Trump? Oh, you must be stupid. You voted for Hillary? Oh, you must hate America.

It can be very easy for these things to get out of hand.

So, we must come to this conclusion: All generalizations are bad!

(Do you see what I did there? I made a generalization that said that all generalizations are bad. But if all generalizations are bad, wouldn't that mean that my generalization that all generalizations are bad is also bad? It's all pretty confusing, isn't it?)

Not all of the assumptions we make by generalizing are bad. Not all of them are right. (Is it true that all Canadians are really nice? Probably not, but it's not such a bad generalization to characterize a people by.) Not all of them are wrong. (If you assume everyone you meet in Utah is a Mormon, you would be correct very, very often, but not all of the time.)

I guess what I'm saying is that we can't always assume our generalizations are true. We need to look at each person and each case individually. Sometimes people don't always fit into the neat little stereotypes that we think should define them.

Just because I'm extremely handsome, it doesn't mean that I'm not very smart. (And I guess if someone assumes I'm a potato farmer just because I'm from Idaho, that's not the worst thing in the world. I hear they're all really hard workers.)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Worst Bucket List Ever

A while back my brother visited the town of Tooele, Utah for the first time, then he commented, "Now I can cross that off of my bucket list."

My immediate thought was, "If driving through Tooele is on your bucket list, that has to be one of the saddest bucket lists ever."And that got me thinking: what would the worst bucket list ever look like? I'm guessing it would look something like this:

*Own Season 7 of The Golden Girls on DVD.

*Eat every single item off of the McDonald's menu. (Not all at once, just eventually.)

*Spend a week in Ogden, Utah.

Ogden: More cash loan stores in former gas station buildings per capita than any other city in America! (Except Reno.)

*Drink some buttermilk.

*Shop at a Dillard's department store (and actually buy something.)

*Drive a Toyota Camry.

*Watch all of the Transformers movies in one day.

*Attend a Cleveland Browns game.

*Meet (and shake hands with) former Vice Presidents Dan Quayle and Walter Mondale.

*Learn all of the lyrics to "It's a Small World After All."

*Visit the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota. (Conveniently located between Minneapolis and Des Moines!)

*Climb the highest mountain in Nebraska.

*Get Pat Sajak's autograph.

*Visit the Kentucky State Capitol Building in Frankfort.

*Own Season 5 of T. J. Hooker on DVD.

If someone could check everything off of this bucket list, they would have lived a life just slightly fuller than the rest of us. (Sometimes you gotta dream big.)

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Song of Poop and Barf

A Song of Fire and Ice? Ha! What's so scary about that? Fire's not so bad; just pour some water on it. And ice? Well, I've seen Frozen enough times that the ice doesn't bother me anyway.

No, I have a song that is much more frightening. A song that would make George R. R. Martin run away and hide. I sing: A Song of Poop and Barf!

Recently, our Song of Poop and Barf began on a Monday morning around 7:30 AM. When I opened the door I was greeted by a wall of stench. Thing 3, our two-and-a-half year-old girl, was up and out of her bed, but I immediately noticed a large stain on her sheets. I knew what had to happen. (It's moments like this that separate the fathers from the babysitters.) I grabbed the girl and removed her clothes, taking care to minimize spreading the poop to uninfected areas. (Keeping the poop out of the hair being a top priority!) I gave her a preliminary wipe-down, then threw her in the bathtub. (The preliminary wipe-down is essential, because you never want any poop in the tub.) I stripped her bed of sheets, blankets, pillow-case, and mattress pad and shoved them all down the laundry chute. I removed the blanket from atop the changing table and put it down the chute as well. I bathed the girl, cleaned her up, dried her off, put her in a new diaper and clean clothes. And, as all this was going on I was barking orders to our two older children to help entertain/distract our youngest child (Thing 4, a one year-old boy,) and to get themselves ready to catch the school bus. I then went downstairs and put all the poop-infected clothing and bedding in the washing machine.

And with that, the battle was over---but the war was just beginning.

Did I take a training potty and attempt to transform it into the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones using diapers? Yes, yes I did. Is there something wrong with me? Yes, yes there is.

Over the course of the day there were a few more skirmishes. Thing 4 pooped and pooped and pooped some more. (He pooped at least six times over the course of the day. Fortunately, his diapers held containment.)

Early in the afternoon I was standing next to Thing 3, and she had a pained grimace on her face. Then suddenly, I heard it! It was a horrible noise. I can best describe it as the sound of exploding poop. (It sounded, literally, as if someone had dropped a cherry bomb down into the hole of an outhouse.) Thing 3 acted very surprised, then looked up at me and said, "I made a noise." (It was a grand understatement.) Why yes, yes she did! I was amazed (and very relieved) that none of the poop escaped her diaper. (Another win for Pampers!)

The next verse in the Song of Poop and Barf was sung shortly after midnight. There was crying coming from the other room, and it wasn't "restless sleep" crying, it was "something's wrong" crying. I opened the door and was greeted by a new and terrible smell: barf! I yelled for my wife. With both of us there, we could divide the tasks. I took the girl to the tub and The Wife took clothing/bedding/washing machine duty. I soon realized the problem was that the barf had gotten into her hair. You can't get barf out of hair using just a wet-wipe, so I had to use the shower nozzle, which was not a popular decision with Thing 3. All the screaming woke up Thing 4, so we ended up with both babies in bed with us for a while until they calmed back down. Thing 3 requested her favorite movie, Pocahontas. (I'm not sure why she's latched onto that movie, but it's good that she likes a wholesome Disney movie with a wonderful message: Disobey your father and run off with a strange man.) (Wait...what???)

Thing 3 slept in until almost noon and woke up famished. I knew she needed to replenish her fluids, but I foolishly gave her too much, too soon: another barf, another tub. Her song of barf continued at dinner that evening, although she appeared to have a bit more vim and vigor than earlier in the day.

The Song of Poop and Barf lived up to its name the next morning. At 4:55 AM the words, "I pooped," were broadcast into my ears through the baby monitor. I checked and yes, the poop had oozed out of her diaper. So, I repeated the process of two days earlier, which included changing all of her sheets and bathing her again. All clean and cozy, I was just setting her down on our bed to watch some more shows (Sesame Street this time; Cookie Monster never disobeys his father to run off with a strange man) when she started barfing! Back to the tub. It was a Daily Double, or a Double Feature, or a true Song of Poop and Barf! So, she got two wash-downs in the bathtub before 5:30 AM. (And I had to add the bathroom floor mats to the list of things cycling through our washing machine.)

How bad was it? There had been so much poop and barf in the house that everything smelled of it. And tasted of it. Does Yoplait sell a Vanilla & Poop flavored yogurt? I ask because that's what I was tasting, the Song was so prevalent in the air! I could no longer discern if Thing 4's diapers were dirty based on smell. And it got even worse when The Wife, exhausted from the skirmishes at home and her battles with teenagers at work (she teaches at the junior high), lost track of time and over-cooked some dinner on the stove top, adding burnt cabbage to the bouquet of fragrances wafting through the house.

I fed Thing 3 peaches and Gatorade. She promptly threw it up. And as I was cleaning it up I actually thought, "Hey, this barf is quite fruity and refreshing!" Yes, it got to that point.

The next morning the barf was so voluminous that it made me, veteran barf wrangler that I am, stop in my tracks like a deer in the headlights. Luckily, The Wife was there to take the lead in that battle. (I did jolt myself into action to help.)

And yes, we did take Thing 3 to the doctor, where they told us there was nothing they could do, and we just had to wait it out. (Or was that "wade it out?" The barf was getting deep.) She only barfed two more times after the doctor visit, although one of those was directly on my wife as she was holding her. And then, our song was sung.

So, I'd suggest to George R. R. Martin that he should just stick with his Song of Fire and Ice*. I don't think he could handle A Song of Poop and Barf. He'd definitely get something stuck in that beard of his. (And I am not going to give that man a bath!)

*I should admit that I haven't read any of the books or viewed any episodes of Game of Thrones. But I have lived through A Song of Poop and Barf, and just like George R.R. Martin's story, ours is not finished yet. He has two books left to write and publish, and we have two children left to potty train. The song is not yet finished.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Summer Is NOT Over Yet!

Did you know it's still summer after Labor Day? It's true! After Labor Day there are more than two and a half weeks of summer left before it officially becomes fall.

That doesn't seem right, does it? We're always being told that summer ends as soon as school starts up again in August. Or they say that the Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah of summer. But that's not the case! We can keep on summer hurrah-ing for most of the rest of September!

Check your calendar: this year the last day of summer (also known as the first day of fall) is September 22nd. Meanwhile, Labor Day falls on September 4th. Now, I'm no math wizard, but it looks to me like that means there are 18 days of summer between the two that we need to enjoy in the fullest.

So, what should we do to celebrate our newfound extended summer? How about grab your snorkel and go to the pool! There's no better summer activity than splashing around in the pool. What's that? You say the pool closes for the season on September 4th? That doesn't seem right. It's a city pool, and our tax dollars pay for it, so we should be able to enjoy it for ALL of summer, shouldn't we? (I think this calls for a sternly worded letter to the city council and mayor.)

Life's a beach!
Okay, so if we can't go to the pool, maybe we can go to the beach. Yes, I know there are no oceans in Utah, but there are plenty of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, and they all have shore line. Some of them even have shore line with sand, or, at the very least, dirt and gravel that could be mistaken for sand if you squint at it just right. So, load up your cooler with your favorite cold beverage, grab your beach towel, put on your swimming suit and head to your favorite local beach! (Or beach-like shore line.) Chances are it will be less crowded than it was in July.

Let's go soak up some sun! It's still summer! The calendar says so. (And the calendar never lies!) And, if you happen to see some of the leaves changing colors on your way to the beach, just think of it as the trees putting on their own little summer fireworks show! (Because it is still summer!)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cereal Killers

If you could have anything you wanted for breakfast, what would it be?

French toast! Bacon! Sausage! A ham and cheese omelet! Waffles! Hash browns! Crepes! Cinnamon rolls! Fried eggs! Scrambled eggs! Pancakes! Smoothies! Leftover cold pizza! Cinnamon toast! Toast and jam! Yogurt! Donuts! Bagels! Oatmeal?

There are so many great and delicious options for breakfast. (I'm getting hungry just thinking about them!) But, if you were to ask my children what they would want, they would say "none of the above."

My kids would choose cold cereal. Seriously. Cold cereal every single time. And I'm not even talking about the sugary "candy" cereals, like Froot Loops or Cocoa Puffs. I'm talking about cereals like Raisin Bran and Special K! Given the choice between french toast and Cheerios, my kids would choose those little donut-shaped pieces of cardboard.

Mmmm...she just can't keep her hands out of that excellent source of fiber!

I don't understand it. It makes no sense to me. I'm sure part of it is that we don't let them have cereal very often, usually just once or twice a week. But that doesn't really explain it, because we're lucky if we have bacon once a month, but the kids would still choose cereal over it.

And cereal isn't the only bad choice they'd make. They would choose a piece of candy over a piece of pie or cake. That's insane! They'd rather have a Tootsie Roll than some apple pie!

Why is this? Is there something wrong with their brains? Is it because their brains are still underdeveloped? Is it somehow related to why they like Pokemon?

I wish I knew. But, I don't have any answers, I just have questions. And right now my question is: do we have any bacon in the freezer? (Mmm...bacon!)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

"Everything That Is Wrong with Humanity Today"

Last night I learned that my wife represents "everything that is wrong with humanity today."

I had no idea! I know she isn't perfect. I'm aware she has a few flaws here and there. But, to find out she is everything that is wrong with humanity comes as a bit of a shock! There's a lot wrong with humanity; I'm just not sure how my wife is able to represent all of that.

But, I read it on the internet, so it has to be true, right?

Surprisingly, this was said about my wife, and not me, or Donald Trump, or Barack Obama, or Adam Sandler, or Taylor Swift, or that one guy from that annoying commercial that everyone hates.

There is a lot of good discourse and discussion on the internet. But, unfortunately, these discussions often go off the rails when someone disagrees or gets their feelings hurt, and it devolves into an exercise in name-calling and finger-pointing.

That's what happened last night. My wife presented a valid, well thought-out opinion on a subject. (I'll admit that I'm biased, and that I agree with her opinion.) However, a friend of a friend didn't agree. That's fine--differences in opinion happen all the time. But he almost immediately escalated it by calling her names ("stupid,") telling her to "F off," and then telling her, "You represent everything that is wrong with humanity today."

(Amazingly enough, the subject matter wasn't politics, which is what most of America finds so divisive today; it was about a health matter that concerns one of our children.)

I'd like to think this was an isolated incident, but I know it is not. In today's volatile political climate, this kind of name calling is becoming more and more prevalent. Look at the comments section of any politically-tinged story ( be it "real" or "fake" news) and you'll find it full of vitriol, intolerance, and hate.

The thing is, these people are emboldened by the anonymity of the internet. Since they can say it they do, because there are no immediate repercussions. People lose their sense of civility and common decency because they can hide behind a made-up name or a tiny profile picture. They think that because they'll probably never be in the same room with someone that they can say whatever they want with impunity. This man probably wouldn't have said those things about my wife if he had been standing in front of her in person. (And if he had, I probably would have punched him.)

I was grateful that several of my wife's friends defended her and called out the behavior of this bully, many of them doing so in a way that didn't deteriorate into name-calling. (Even though the guy was clearly behaving like a cotton-headed ninnymuggins.)

This kind of behavior has become a big problem. (You could even say it is "everything that is wrong with humanity today" if my wife hadn't already laid claim to that title.) But, it really should be pretty easy to stop. All we have to do is think before we write. Before you hit "enter," "return," or "send," think to yourself, "What would my Mom think if she saw what I have just written? What would my Dad think? What would sweet, lovable Aunt Franny think?"

And if that doesn't work you could try, "How would I react if someone said this to or about my child? Or my sister? Or my Grandma?"

It's okay to have differences of opinion. People can't even agree on something as simple as what is the best Pop-Tart flavor (even though, obviously, it's Frosted Strawberry.) But even though we don't see eye to eye, we can still be civil, can't we? If not, we're no better than the monkeys in the zoo flinging poop at each other.

Friday, August 25, 2017

First Day of School (A Running Diary)

The first day of school is one of the most anticipated and dreaded days of the year. As a father of four, I can tell you that I was very much looking forward to it this year, especially because of how horribly my kids were behaving on the last-day-of-no-school.

To commemorate the day, I decided to do a running diary of the first day of school. (The "running diary" is a format I've borrowed from former ESPN/Grantland/The Ringer writer Bill Simmons. I've used it a couple of times before.)

But first, the players:
     Thing 1:  9 year-old daughter (entering 4th grade)
     Thing 2:  7 year-old son (entering 2nd grade)
     Thing 3:  Two and a half year-old daughter
     Thing 4:  One year-old son
     The Wife:  Junior High math teacher crazy enough to marry me
     Me:  Stay-at-home dad and writer

Here we go:

5:30--The Wife's alarm goes off. She hits the snooze button. I think about getting up to exercise.
5:40--The Wife's alarm goes off again. She hits the snooze button again. I don't think about getting up to exercise.
5:50--The Wife's alarm goes off again. I actually get out of bed and go to the bathroom.
5:55--The Wife takes a shower.
6:00--I feel guilty for not exercising. Grab the laptop and attempt to write. (Surf Facebook instead.)
6:13--The Wife gets out of the shower. She sees me and says, "Oh, I thought you were exercising." I feel even more guilty.
6:15--I take a shower.
6:33--Attempt to write. (Stare off into space.)
6:45--Wake up Thing 1 and Thing 2. I have the following exchange with Thing 1:
     Thing 1: "I was having a hilarious dream, but I'm glad you woke me up!"
     Me: "A hilarious dream?"
     Thing 1: "The octopus was eating pizza! But I'm glad you woke me up because it's the first day of school!"
6:46--Thing 2 wakes up and has a bloody nose.
6:48--Thing 1 informs me that in her hilarious dream there was calamari on the pizza the octopus was eating.
6:50--Thing 1 and Thing 2 get dressed in their brand new* school clothes. [*NOTE: Last night The Wife picked out all of their clothes for the first week of school. Prior to that she made sure they had new clothes for school. Because she cares. (Had it been left to me they might have worn "gasp!" clothes from last year.)]
6:56--Thing 1 doesn't want breakfast if it might be messy.
7:01--Notice that Thing 2 has all brand new clothes except for ill-fitting socks he has worn for at least three years because he really wants to wear Captain America socks.
7:12--The bus arrives...for the high school and junior high kids. Thing 2 worries that he missed his bus. I explain to him that this was not his bus. (I'll have this same conversation with him 46 more times over the course of the school year.)
7:15--Auntie K arrives to do "First Day of School" hair. (She's slightly better at doing hair than Daddy.)
7:34--Hair is done.
7:35--Time for the "First Day of School" photo shoot.
7:39--Realize it is very difficult to get two children to pose together without one of them fake-smiling so hard that they look like a psycho.
7:46--Her work finished, Auntie K goes home. (She's incredible! She's like Mary Poppins without all the singing.) (Or the flying umbrella.)
7:48--Load their lunches* into their backpacks. [*NOTE: Last night The Wife packed their lunches. Because she is amazing.]
7:51--Thing 2 asks if he can go to the bus stop. (No. It's too early.)
8:00--I let them leave for the bus stop. (Even though it's still too early.)

And they're off!
8:03--They arrive at the bus stop, sit on the curb, and look bored.
8:11--The first next kid arrives at the bus stop.
8:19--The bus arrives!
8:20--The bus leaves.
8:21--With complete quiet and solitude, I attempt to write. (Actually open a file on the computer.)
8:23--I hear that Thing 4 is awake. As I go to get him, I really hope Thing 3 is still asleep.
8:24--She's not.
8:25--Change Thing 4's diaper.
8:26--Get Thing 4 a banana.
8:27--Change Thing 3's diaper.
8:28--Get Thing 3 a banana.
8:29--Make toast.
8:30--Get more banana for Thing 4.
8:35--Attempt to write. (Distracted by Facebook again.)
9:10--Smell something bad. Change Thing 4's poopy diaper.
9:12--Attempt to write. (Stare blankly into space.)
9:54--Smell something bad. (Again.) Change Thing 4's poopy diaper.
9:56--Attempt to write. (Go over old e-mails.)
10:34--Actually getting some writing done! The kids are playing quietly. All is well.
10:36--Thing 3 walks up to me, hits me in the leg, and repeatedly shouts, "I'm Velma! I'm Velma!" while holding an action figure of Daphne. She throws the Daphne action figure in anger. I stop writing to look for Velma action figure.
10:37--Find two Shaggy action figures, two Scooby-Doo action figures, and one Fred action figure. No Velma.
10:39--Find Velma! (And the world rejoices!) Sit down to write again.
10:40--Sniff. Sniff. Smell something bad. Change Thing 4's poopy diaper. (His third in an hour and a half.)
10:42--Put Thing 4 down for a nap. (All that pooping has got to make him tired, right?)
10:46--Attempt to write. (Review what I've already written.)
10:48--Thing 3 interrupts by asking me to read her a book.
11:01--Finish reading to Thing 3. (Amazingly, I was able to get away with reading the book only three straight times.)
11:02--Attempt to write. (Distracted by looking at "First Day of School" photo shoot.)
12:05--Post "First Day of School" pictures of Thing 1 and Thing 2 on Facebook.
12:40--Get Thing 4 up from his nap. Shockingly, no poop in his diaper.
12:43--Feed kids leftover spaghetti for lunch.
12:44--Realize I should not be feeding Thing 4 spaghetti on a day that isn't his normal bath day.
1:03--Use a washy-wash (washcloth) to clean spaghetti sauce out of Thing 4's face, ears, eyebrows, hair, nostrils, chin, in between his fingers, eyelashes, and anywhere else I can find it, knowing full well that despite my best efforts I won't get it all.
1:09--Attempt to write. (Doze off a little.)
3:13--Change Thing 4's diaper. There is no poop, but there are several spaghetti noodles. And some sauce.
3:37--The school bus arrives!
3:40--Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive home from school.
3:41--Talking at the same time, Thing 1 and Thing 2 give a quick, incoherent report of everything that happened at school on the first day.
3:49--The Wife arrives home from school.
3:50--The exact same report is given of everything that happened at school on the first day. It is still incoherent.
3:51--The Wife, exhausted from a full day of work at school, collapses in her chair. We look at each other and realize we only have to do this 179 more times before school lets out next summer.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

New Teacher vs. Experienced Teacher

New and improved, or old and reliable? Which do you prefer?

The new school year has arrived, and the teachers teaching your kids (and/or grandkids) vary greatly in their training and proficiency. They might be just dipping their toes into the teaching pool, or they may have spent the past thirty years soaking in the whirlpool of instruction. And that disparity can mean a vast difference in the educational guidance of their students.

Would you rather have your child taught by a brand new teacher, or by a teacher with many years of experience? It's an interesting question because they each have their positives and negatives.

The New Teacher comes right out of college with all of the latest teaching ideas and methods. The Experienced Teacher has honed and refined their skills and techniques over years of actual classroom practice.

Unlike this teacher, most teachers, both New and Experienced, will have a face, arms, and/or legs.

The New Teacher is enthusiastic, vibrant, and ready to take on the world. Chances are that if the Experienced Teacher is still teaching, it's because they love the work.

The New Teacher has a greater likelihood of being unmarried and without children, so they can devote more of their time to their students. The Experienced Teacher is more likely to be married and have children, and therefore have less time to devote to their students.

There is the possibility that the New Teacher, when faced with an actual classroom full of students, will find that they just don't have what it takes to do the job. There is the possibility that the Experienced Teacher no longer loves what they do and is only still teaching just to get a paycheck.

The New Teacher's enthusiasm might be contagious, and their students will feed off of that enthusiasm to learn and thrive. The Experienced Teacher's love of helping their students learn might shine through, creating an environment of enlightenment and edification.

The bottom line? As long as the teacher has a good mix of knowledge, skill, enthusiasm, and love, it doesn't really matter. The New Teacher and the Experienced Teacher can each be very effective! (Especially if they have the support of the students, the parents, and the school administration.)

So, let's do what we can to help the teachers out. We can never have too many energetic New Teachers, and we can never have too many skilled, Experienced Teachers who love what they do! (Maybe it would help if we only paid congressmen as much as we pay teachers.)

Friday, August 18, 2017

I Got Bit by the FitBit

Yes, I'm overweight. Yes, my wife got me a FitBit. Yes, she worried that by getting me a FitBit it would look like she was saying, "Hey, tubby, get off of your butt and start exercising!" Yes, she got it for me anyway, because she knows me well enough to know that that's not what I would think. (I actually want to exercise and get in better shape.)

When I opened the present that contained the FitBit, the idea that my wife got it for me because she thought I was fat didn't even cross my mind. Instead, my first thoughts were, "Does it actually work?" and "Do I have to wear it all the time?" And, after about two months of use, I've found the answer to both of those questions is, "Pretty much."

I git a FitBit!

At first I wondered if the FitBit was a ploy by my wife to make me get rid of my old calculator nerd watch. I'd been wearing the same model of Casio calculator watch for over 20 years. It was big, bulky, and most definitely nerdy.

Super cool! (And if you turn it upside down it says, "hellooo!")
Meanwhile, the FitBit is sleek, small, and normal looking. When compared side by side, the FitBit is much more attractive. And, despite so many fewer buttons, much more functional.

Side by side comparison.
Initially I worried if I would miss all of the functions of my watch, but it turns out that among its many features, the FitBit is a pretty good watch. Like my old bulky thing, it has time, date, alarm, and stopwatch features. It also has a light, so I can read the time in the dark (which was the one big disadvantage of the Casio.) The only thing the old watch had that the FitBit doesn't is the calculator. But, in the two months since I switched to the FitBit, I've only reached down to my wrist to use my old calculator three times. I think the trade-offs are worth it. (Plus, I've got a calculator function on my phone if I really need it.)

So, what does the FitBit do? It does a lot! Including:
     *Keeps track of how many steps you take a day. (Goal: 10,000)
     *Keeps track of how many miles you walk a day. (Goal: 5 miles)
     *Keeps track of how many flights of stairs you climb a day. (Goal: 10)
     *Keeps track of how many calories you burn each day. (Goal: 3,333)
     *Keeps track of how many minutes you exercise each day. (Goal: 30 minutes)
     *Keeps track of how many hours during the day you take at least 250 steps.
     *Shows you your current heart rate. (Beats per minute.)
     *Keeps track of how much you sleep each night.
     *It knows when I am sleeping.
     *It knows when I'm awake.
     *It knows if I've been bad or good.
(I just realized that I might be wearing Santa Claus on my wrist!)

On a good day when I met all of my goals!

That's an amazing amount of stuff for a watch on your wrist to tell you! Is it 100% accurate? No. Because it's on your wrist, it can sometimes be fooled into thinking you are or aren't taking steps. I've found that separating and folding laundry makes my FitBit think I am walking. (I've gotten several hundred steps just sitting on the couch putting away kids' clothes.) On the other extreme, I took a quarter-mile walk while pushing a stroller and my FitBit thought I was able to traverse that distance in only 73 steps. (Since my arm was mostly motionless on the stroller handle, the FitBit didn't think I was walking.)

But, those minor inconveniences are rare and usually tend to even out. Since I started using the FitBit, I've found that I'm much more likely to get off of my butt and walk. I'll take an extra trip or two upstairs so I can get stair-climbing points. And, it gives me a little buzz at fifty minutes past the hour if I haven't taken 250 steps yet as a reminder that I should get up and get moving. (250 steps per hour isn't much, but it's easy to miss when you sit around on your butt as much as I do.) So, if you see me suddenly stand up and start walking in place for two minutes, don't think I'm weird--I'm just trying to get my 250 steps for the hour. (There are plenty of other reasons why you can think I'm weird.)

Have I lost a lot of weight since I've been using the FitBit? Not really. I've only lost about five pounds in two months. But that's mostly because I've just been paying attention to one prong of the two-prong weight-loss program. I've been doing good with the exercise prong, but I haven't done much with the watch-what-you-eat prong. (If I really want to lose weight I'll have to cut back on my donut, brownie, and apple fritter intake.)

All in all I'm very glad my wife got me the FitBit. With it I look a little less like a nerd. And, it's helping me get a bit more fit.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

I Saw the Sign

One day we were driving by a restaurant, and the sign said this:

Come & See!!!
Just for clarification, the sign reads:

               NEW EXTENDED
                     HO RS
               COME & SEE

I'm not exactly sure what they were trying to say with this sign. There are a number of messages they may have been attempting to convey. Let's examine a few of them:

1. They have a new, extended horse that they want you to see, they're just missing an "e."
2. They have new and extended whores that they want you to see, they just don't know how to spell "whore." (I'm not even going to ask what an extended whore is. I don't really want to know.)
3. They have new, extended hours that they want you to see, they're just missing a "u."
4. They have new, extended choirs they want you to see, they're just missing a "c" and an "i."
5. They have new, extended hors d'oeuvres they want you to see, they just had no idea how to spell "hors d'oeuvres." (I'll be honest, I had to look it up, and even then I'm not completely confident.) (Wikipedia has let me down before.) (If it was spelled like it sounds, it would be "or-derves," but heaven forbid the French make anything that easy.)
6. They have new, extended shorts they want you to see, they're just missing an "s" and a "t."

That's several different possibilities, and I really don't know which one is correct. I think it's probably #3 (hours), but I don't know for sure. What I do know for sure is that the management of the restaurant doesn't seem to care if the sign is correct or not. Why do I say that? Because the sign has looked exactly like this for over a month!

Yes, for more than a month they've been inviting passing drivers to come and see their "new extended ho rs." I'm sure that the manager of this restaurant drives by the sign at least twice a day. So do the assistant managers, the cooks, the cashiers, the maintenance crew, and the person who put the message on the sign in the first place. And yet none of those people have cared enough to send someone out to fix the sign! Do they want the sign to look like this? Do they think more people will eat at their restaurant because of the misspelled sign? Personally, I'm thinking that if they don't care about getting the sign right after over a month, maybe they don't pay attention to the other little details, like if the food is cooked properly, or if the dishes actually get washed, or if there is horse meat in the beef. (Maybe they're advertising that their meatloaf features "new extended horse" meat?)

I don't really know what it is they're trying to say. I just know I'm probably not stopping in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or ever runch. Runch? Yes, runch. This is what the other side of the sign looks like:


On second thought, I'm a bit curious. Maybe I'll go there for Runch after all. Who knows, they might have hors d'oeuvres made of horse served by whores. It could be entertaining.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Car Wash/Star Wars

If the rebellion had been depending on me to fly my x-wing down that space trench and make the shot to destroy the Death Star, they would have been out of luck.

I have a hard enough time pulling in to a car wash correctly.

Use the force, Luke!
It looks simple enough: just drive forward and put the front driver-side wheel into the little tire-holder. Easy! They even have little yellow markers to help guide you on your way, plus some angled metal to help push the tire into the correct spot if you are off by a few inches.

Follow the yellow brick road.
You'd have to be a completely incompetent driver to not be able to get that front tire where it's supposed to go, right?

Not so fast, my friend! It might not be as easy as it looks. Why? Because as soon as you enter the car wash, your windshield gets sprayed with water, greatly decreasing your ability to see anything in front of you. Plus, as you approach the target you can no longer see it because your own vehicle blocks the view. When driving, you can't actually see where your front tire is, so all those yellow dots quickly become useless. (And it's not like you can stick your head out of the window to look, unless you want your face to get rinsed and/or soaked.)

To see or not to see? (That is the question.)

In fact, flying down that space trench to destroy the Death Star might be easier, because you'd have R2-D2 in the back to help guide you. At the car wash there is no R2 unit, just some kids in the back seat yelling, fighting, and/or screaming.

Sure, having Darth Vader and a squadron of tie-fighters trying to shoot you down would be a distraction, but so is that guy in line behind you, honking his horn because you're moving too slow.

So, yes, I'm afraid that if the rebel forces were relying on my piloting skills to bring down the Death Star, they would have been in trouble. There would still be a giant, moon-sized thing flying through that far, far away galaxy, blowing up planets and rebel bases with ease.

And my x-wing would probably need a good washing.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Daddy Shops for Girl Shirts

I don't know very much about fashion for girls. (My wife would probably say I don't know much about fashion for adult guys, either.) (She really wants me to get rid of all my skinny ties from the 80s.)

As little as I know about what's fashionable for myself, I know even less about what my nine year-old girl should wear. My requirements for clothing for my daughter are:
     1. It needs to cover her bottom.
     2. It needs to cover her belly.
     3. No rude or snarky sayings on it.*

 *[If a shirt has something on it that we wouldn't want her to say out loud, or declares a bad attitude or attitude of entitlement, we don't want it on her shirt. This includes shirts with messages such as "I'm the Birthday Girl," or "I Got My Drama From My Mama," or "#SelfieGoals," or anything that proclaims her a "diva."]

Other than that, I know nothing. Plaid, stripes, polka dots, sequins, velour, cotton, tie-dye, it's all a jumble to me. So, when we went shopping for school clothes for the kids, my wife took my daughter with her and I ventured off with our seven year-old boy. (A couple of Spider-Man shirts and he was good.)

Finding clothes for the girl is a little more complicated. After wandering through dozens of designs and styles, we came across several racks of shirts that featured flip sequins. What are "flip sequins," you ask? Sequins are a series of small, shiny disks sewn onto clothing for decoration. A flip sequin has a different color on each side, so that when the sequins are brushed in one direction they form one image, but when brushed in the other direction they form a different image.

Here's an example:

Flip sequins! (I'm sure this is a fad that will have as much staying power as scratch-and-sniff shirts and/or mood rings.)
On the shirt on the left, when the sequins are pushed in one direction, the heart is pink and has the message, "Stay True." When the sequins are pushed in the other direction, the heart is gold and displays the message, "Grl Pwr." (By the way, I'm fine with the message of "Grl Pwr," although I would prefer it actually be spelled correctly.)

I know just enough about fashion to believe that the fact that they had several racks of these flip sequin shirts means one of two things:
     1. This style of shirt is new, hot, trendy, and very much in demand.
     2. This style of shirt is no longer trendy, and they have so many racks of them because they are trying to get rid of them.

The donut on this shirt can either have striped frosting, or frosting with sprinkles, depending on which direction the sequins are flipped.

My guess (and it's just a guess) is that the shirts are still trendy. Why? Because I think if they were trying to just get rid of them, the price would be a bit lower. (Of course, this opinion is coming from an old guy who thinks that anything over $10 for a kid's shirt is overpriced.)

Did we get one of these shirts for our daughter? No, but it had nothing to do with trendiness or price. It had to do with the fact that I don't want people walking up to my daughter and putting their hand on her chest in order to flip the sequins. Thanks, but no thanks.

We did end up getting my daughter a few shirts and outfits, and I think she'll look very nice in them, without anyone needlessly touching her. But, I do think it's a good thing my wife was there, because if not I probably would just have gotten my daughter a couple of Spider-Man shirts, too. (Everyone looks good in Spider-Man shirts.)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Summer vs. Back to School

Summer vacation: enjoy it while you can! For those who don't have to be at work, it can be a wonderful, fun-filled adventure. But, seemingly without warning it'll be time to go back to school, and it will all come to a screeching halt.

On a random summer day you can sleep in until 10:30 (or later) if you want. Once school starts, the alarm goes off before 7:00 AM.

On a random summer day you can take your time and make a big, nice, fancy breakfast. (Or brunch.) (Or lunch, depending on how long you sleep in.) Once school starts, you'll be lucky if you have enough time to scarf down a bowl of Lucky Charms before you have to get out the door.

On a random summer day there are no giant yellow taxis cruising through your neighborhood.
On a random summer day you can do just about anything you want. You can go camping, hiking, swimming, picnicking, or any other fun activity you can think to do. Once school starts you can still do anything you want...except for between the hours of 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM when all your time is precisely scheduled. Or after 9:00 PM, when you need to be in bed.

On a random summer day you can stay up as late as you want; there is no bedtime. Once school starts, if you stay up past 9:00 PM you're going to have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

On a random summer day there won't be any homework, but there might be a parade, or a carnival, or fireworks. Once school starts, there WILL be homework.

On a random summer day you can wear whatever you want: shorts, sweatpants, tank tops, swimsuits, flip flops, or thongs. (Okay, well maybe not thongs.) Once school starts you have to be presentable, so you usually wear new clothes. They look nice, but they might not be comfortable because they aren't broken in yet.

On a random summer day, the sun rises before you get out of bed, and it doesn't go down until late in the evening. Once school starts, the sun hides behind the mountains earlier and earlier every night.

On a random summer day you can enjoy yourself and think that summer will never end. Once school starts you can start looking forward to NEXT summer.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

How Do You Like Your Spam?

I never knew I wanted Chorizo Spam until I saw it in the store.

Yes, I said, "Chorizo Spam." Actually, to be completely accurate it is "Spam with Chorizo seasoning." Doesn't that sound delicious? Haven't you always thought, "Do you know what would make Spam (America's third least favorite meat-like food substance*) even better? If it had a hint of Spanish sausage!"

*[Spam finishes just in front of liverwurst and pimento loaf.]

Mmmm...it's Glorious SPAM!!!

Do people still buy Spam? We used to have Spam when I was a kid. Mom used to slice it up, fry it on the griddle, and slap it on some bread for a sandwich. It was similar to bologna, except thicker and more rectangular-ish. (To be fair I should point out that there was one dish Mom made with Spam that I really liked, but it was more due to the eggs, pickles, and melted cheese than the Spam.)

For the most part, people find Spam undesirable. That's why we named our junk mail after it. Both kinds of Spam are unrelenting, ever-present, and uninvited. Spam is always there, even though we really don't want it.

But now, Spam comes in flavors! I'm somewhat intrigued. I'm almost interested enough to buy some and chop it up into a taco, like the picture on the front of the Chorizo Spam can. Almost, but not quite.

Maybe I'll try Teriyaki Spam instead. Yes, I said "Teriyaki Spam." Because that's a thing, too. I could slice up a big chunk of Teriyaki Spam, slap it on top of a bed of rice, serve it with some seaweed, and have some faux* sushi. Because nothing screams sushi quite like Spam.

*[Faux means fake or pretend. I'm not sure why anyone would make pretend sushi out of Spam.]

Is it sushi? Is it SPAM? Is it both?

The Teriyaki and Chorizo were the only two new flavors of Spam that I saw in the store, but I wonder if they are working on any others. And if so, what could they be? Here are a few possibilities:
     Chipotle Spam
     Chipolte Spam (for those who have trouble spelling or pronouncing "Chipotle.")
     Pumpkin Spice Spam
     Asiago Spam
     Southern Barbecue Spam
     Spam with Kale
     Fresh Alaskan King Crab Spam
     Italian Spice Spam
     Hot Spam! (with Ghost Peppers)
     Cinnamon Spam
     Salmon Spam
     Hawaiian Spam (with Pineapple Tidbits!)
     Red Velvet Spam
     And, coming soon to your favorite fast food franchise: McSpam!

I have a feeling these two flavors are just the beginning.

In the end, I didn't buy any Spam, and I doubt any of these "exciting" new flavors are enticing enough to get me interested. There's a reason why we named our junk-mail after Spam: it's ever-present, but no one seems to pay much attention to it.

But, in a way, it's comforting to know that Spam is always there. If, for some strange reason, I ever get a hankering for a meat-like substance that is rectangular with rounded edges, I just might reach for a can.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Profanity Is BLEEPING Stupid

It's one of the basic rules of parenting: If you say bad words, your kids will hear you.

I know this rule. I also know that profanity is absolutely worthless. It does no good whatsoever! And yet there I was, cursing at my computer. And there my daughter was, listening to every nasty word.

Why was I swearing at the computer? Facebook did a poor job of cropping a picture I posted. I had a perfectly good photo of a blueberry muffin, which was centered nicely in the frame:
For some reason, Facebook decided the edge of the plate and the tablecloth were more important than the muffin:

I tried a couple of tricks I've used in the past to fix the Facebook cropping problem, but they didn't work. So, I turned to a profanity laced tirade. That didn't work, either. And when I turned around, there my daughter was, secretly listening.

(It's amazing how stealthy the kids can be when you don't want them to be. Usually I can hear her stomping, singing, whistling, or whining. But, no, this time she decides to use her heretofore unknown ninja skills!)

My immediate reaction was, "How much of that did she hear?" I quickly disregarded that line of thought because she didn't have to have heard much for it to have been too much. I was busted.

I then went straight into apology mode. "I'm sorry I said those things. I shouldn't have said those words. It was a stupid thing for me to do. I was behaving like a brat." (We've been talking to her about bratty behavior since watching the movie Despicable Me 3 and its villain, Balthazar Bratt. After doing something wrong she said, "At least I'm not as bratty as Balthazar Bratt." We explained to her that comparing herself to a movie villain probably wasn't her best defense.)

She sat quietly for a couple of minutes, then asked, "Dad, why do you say those words to the computer? It's not like the computer is going to hear you and react." Or course, she was right. Profanity is bleeping stupid! It serves no purpose whatsoever.

Not an exact representation, but pretty close. (The hair is especially accurate.)

The weird thing is that I don't swear at all...when I'm around other people. I don't want to be that guy who swears. But, if I'm all alone, the words sometimes ooze out of me. All those years of driving truck and working with cows spews from my mouth. (I should note that not all truck drivers swear. And I would like to think that there are some people who work with cows who don't swear. I've just never met any of them.)

So, how do I keep myself from swearing? I guess I could just use simple self control. (And while I'm at it I could run five miles a day and eat kale or some other vegetable that is good for me at every meal.) (It's probably not going to happen.)

Maybe my best bet is to pretend one of my kids is listening to everything I say. If I act as if one of my kids is within earshot at all times, I'll be less likely to use profanity. It's not like it's much of a stretch, because if I ever do say something I shouldn't, my kids will hear it. (They've got some mad ninja skills.)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

There Are No Raisins In My Blueberry Muffin

When I was a kid I didn't like raisins.

Really, what kid does like raisins? To most kids, raisins are just a disappointing impersonator of chocolate chips. You have a cookie, see a dark spot in it, and think, "Yay! Chocolate chips!" And then you take a bite and, "Oh, crap, that's just a raisin!" So, no, most kids don't really like raisins.

(Having said that, I don't know how true it is, because my kids happen to love raisins. They'll eat raisins by the handful if given the chance. I'm not sure if this is because their mother has trained them to eat healthy, or if my kids are just really weird. It's probably a little of both.)

Anyway, as a kid I developed such a hatred of raisins that I didn't want to be around them. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them. I would shun them with the shunniest of shunnings.

So, one day my Mom gave me a muffin, and it was chock full of dark spots, and those dark spots were not chocolate chips. "Drat! Raisins! They must be shunned!" (That's not really how I talked as a kid.) (At least, not as far as I can remember.) So, what did I do? I picked those "raisins" out of my muffin and smooshed them into the rug in the middle of the living room floor. [I'm told by spellcheck that "smooshed" isn't a word. But, those "raisins" weren't "smushed" into the rug, and they weren't "smooched," either. They were smooshed. And the beauty of the English language is that if "smooshed" wasn't a word, it can be if it gets used often enough. Just like "interwebs" or "hipster."]

Well, it turns out those "raisins" weren't raisins after all. They were blueberries. It was the first time I had ever had a blueberry muffin, and I picked all of the blueberries out and smooshed them into the rug. Was it good thing to do? No. Was it a smart thing to do? No. Did I get in serious trouble? Yes. Do my brother and sister still tease me about smooshing blueberries into the rug? Yes. If I had it to do over again, would I? Maybe. (I really didn't like raisins!)

The only place this muffin is getting smooshed is in my face!

Since then, I've matured a bit. (Though it may be hard to tell sometimes.) I'm actually okay with raisins now. I don't really seek them out, but I will eat them on occasion, and I won't pick them out of things. (Although they do still get me very angry when they deceive me into thinking they are chocolate chips.)

And as far as blueberries go, I have a love/hate relationship with them. I love them in muffins, pancakes, and waffles. However, I don't like eating them plain. A blueberry inside of some kind of bready food is delicious, but I don't want a blueberry by itself.

But, even though I don't like plain blueberries, I've learned my lesson: I won't smoosh it into the rug.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Kids' Bathroom vs. The Wife's Bathroom

The other day I had the "privilege" of getting to use the kids' bathroom. It was an interesting experience, and it got me thinking: Would I rather share a bathroom with the kids or with The Wife? There are pros and cons to each.

Kids' Bathroom: I get to shower with an Elsa and Anna shower curtain!
The Wife's Bathroom: It's just a boring old nondescript shower curtain. Point: Kids

Remember, Anna is pronounced "Onn-uh" not "Ann-uh." If you get it wrong your kids will never let it go.

Kids' Bathroom: Older toilet that is shorter and has a much smaller seat and toilet bowl.
The Wife's Bathroom: We put in a new toilet a few years ago that is much taller, bigger, and more comfortable. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Unsightly amounts of used toothpaste left in the sink and all over the room.
The Wife's Bathroom: Lots and lots of hair left in the drain and all over the room. Point: Neither

Kids' Bathroom: No medicine cabinet.
The Wife's Bathroom: Large medicine cabinet for storing deodorant, toothpaste, ibuprofen, and assorted other things. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: I get to use Star Wars 3in1 shampoo, conditioner, + body wash. (It's "Galactic Fresh!")
The Wife's Bathroom: It's either The Wife's shampoo, which has some French-sounding name, or my boring old Head and Shoulders. Point: Kids

That's great, but what I REALLY want is Chewbacca's shampoo!

Kids' Bathroom: Did I mention it's "Galactic Fresh?" (I've always wanted to smell like a droid.)
The Wife's Bathroom: The Wife's body wash smells nice, but I wouldn't call it "Galactic." Or I could get me some frosted Irish Spring! (It's magically delicious!) Point: Kids

It's also "Tear Free," because no one wants to see a droid cry.

Kids' Bathroom: If I make a mess around the toilet, I can blame the kids.
The Wife's Bathroom: If I make a mess around the toilet, the blame is pretty much stuck on me. Point: Kids

Kids' Bathroom: Kids often forget to flush the toilet.
The Wife's Bathroom: No surprises in the toilet. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Lots of strange, terrible, not very good smells.
The Wife's Bathroom: Some bad smells, but not nearly as often and not nearly as bad. Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Smaller room, smaller tub.
The Wife's Bathroom: Larger room, larger tub. (Sometimes size does matter!) Point: Wife

Kids' Bathroom: Left on the counter: Uncapped Batman mouthwash, toothpaste stains, hair brushes, dirty washcloths, and assorted wrappers and garbage.
The Wife's Bathroom: Left on the counter: Various make-up and hair care products. Point: Neither

Seriously, is this thing a hair dryer or a photon cannon?

Kids' Bathroom
: Have to share it with four kids who sometimes act like unruly hooligans.
The Wife's Bathroom: Just one person to share it with, and she acts like an adult. Point: Wife

As you can see, it was a very tough battle, but it turns out I'd rather share a bathroom with my wife. (Hmmm...I wonder what she'd think about getting a Scooby-Doo shower curtain for our bathroom?)

Special thanks to my wonderful wife for giving me the idea for this blog, for allowing me to have some fun with her bathroom habits, and for actually being silly enough to agree to take a picture of me hiding behind the kids' Frozen shower curtain. She is The Bestest!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Do You Really Want Your Wildest Dreams to Come True?

Do you want your wildest dreams to come true?

It sounds good, doesn't it? It's what Pedro promised everyone at Preston High when he ran for student body president in Napoleon Dynamite.

Vote for Pedro!

Who wouldn't want their wildest dreams to come true? It would literally be your dreams coming true! That'd be fantastic!

Or would it?

If you really think about your dreams, would you want any of them to come true? I'm not talking about daydreams or wishes, but actual dreams you have had when you were actually asleep. Do you really want those dreams to come true?

Do you want the dream where you go to work but have forgotten to wear your pants to come true? You're wandering around in your underwear for most of the day, and don't notice that you're not wearing pants until just before it's time to go home. Is that the dream you want to come true?

How about the dream where it's the last day of school and you have to go take a test for a class you signed up for but haven't been to all semester? And if you don't pass the class you won't be able to graduate. Is that the dream you want to come true?

What about the dream where you fall off of a cliff and you keep hoping that somehow, someway you'll learn how to fly or someone will save you before you hit the ground? Is that the dream you want to come true?

Or what about that dream when you are flying an airplane and it's exhilarating and wonderful...right up to the moment you remember that you have never flown an airplane before and now you have to land the plane safely but you have no idea how to do it? Is that the dream you want to come true?

Umm...no thanks!
I once had a dream that I was on a three-man relay race team with actor Abe Vigoda and my childhood neighbor Trav. Another friend of mine, Jim, was laughing at me and making fun of me because of how slow my relay team was going to be, because despite Trav's best efforts, I'm a pretty slow runner and I don't think Abe Vigoda is going to set any land speed records. I don't want that dream to come true. (Although I guess it would have been nice to meet Abe Vigoda.)

No, I think I'll just keep those wildest dreams right where they are: as dreams. I'm fine with reality.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Seven Servings of Vegetables a Day

I'm trying to eat healthier. I really am. (I've even cut back to fewer than three donuts a day!)

Apparently, one of the keys to eating healthy is having a balanced diet with just the right amount of food from each of the major food groups. I remember learning about the food groups when I was a kid, but a lot of the things they taught me as a kid have changed. (Such as, Pluto is no longer a planet, and there is no such thing as a brontosaurus. (Maybe.))

So, I can't remember what the food groups were when they were taught to me, and they've probably changed since way back then anyway. In my mind, the main food groups are:

1. Meat--beef, bacon, chicken, non-bacon pork, and maybe some fish.
2. Cheese--all of the cheeses: cheddar, Swiss, provolone, mozzarella, etc., plus butter and milk.
3. Wheat and grains--all of the breads and all of the noodles. (Donuts qualify as breads, right?) (Cinnamon rolls are definitely bread.)
4. Desserts--cakes, pies, cookies, donuts (they do double-duty), puddings, pastries, cobblers, and ice creams.
5. Fruits--bananas, oranges, apples, pears, peaches, and all forms of berries (except for bunny-berries. You don't want to eat those.)
6. Vegetables--lettuce, carrots, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, and anything else you might feed a rabbit or a hamster.

Unfortunately, while vegetables are number six on my list, professional healthy-eating people put them higher. Apparently they say a person should have six or seven servings of vegetables a day. How difficult this is depends on how exactly you define a "serving." In my mind, a serving is one unit of a vegetable. Let's look at this picture of some vegetables I ate the other day:

Sooooo many vegetables!!!

Here we see four "units" of carrot, one big pickle slice (it's hiding under the cheeseburger), and some lettuce. So, that's either six or seven servings of vegetables, depending on if you think that's enough lettuce to count as two servings or not. So, with one cheeseburger and four carrots, I've gotten my daily allotment of vegetables! Look at me, I'm a healthy eater!

However, there are some who would say I'm overestimating the size of a serving. They say that one baby carrot is not an entire serving of vegetables. They say that in order to get six or seven servings, I would have to eat this many vegetables:

And this is just for lunch. (You should see what dinner looks like!)

My guess is that for truly healthy eating, my daily vegetable consumption should be somewhere between what is shown in these two pictures. (I'm thinking if I tripled my cheeseburger/carrot intake I'd be closer to eating healthy, right? Maybe I could have two pickles per burger instead of just one.)

I know I should probably eat more vegetables. Even though I'm not a rabbit or a hamster, I know that vegetables are better for me than a lot of the other things I eat, and I need to get more servings of them every day.

(So, how many pieces of carrot cake would I have to eat in order to get my seven servings of vegetables today?)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fire Season, Fireworks Season, or Both?

It's July. Does that mean it's fire season, or fireworks season? The answer, of course, is both, and that can be a problem.

We wait until July, when all the weeds are dried out and everything is at peak flammability, and then we light the fuse and send exploding fire bombs up into the air! And, just in case it wasn't quite dry enough on the 4th of July, here in Utah we let things dry out for 20 more days and try it again! (The 24th of July is a holiday in Utah called Pioneer Day, and the pioneers were well known for hard work, handcarts, and extravagant firework displays.)

As Brigham Young used to say, "This is the place for fireworks!"

Why July? Wouldn't it make more sense to light up the sky when the ground is covered with snow on Valentine's Day or President's Day? How about Thanksgiving? Wouldn't fireworks go great with cranberry sauce? Maybe even St. Patrick's Day when everything is green? Nope, we insist on dry July.

Fortunately, the local fire departments work hard to keep everyone safe. Most of them have restrictions set up as to where fireworks can and cannot be discharged. The problem comes when Hank down the street ignores the warnings and lights off the $60 Walmart pack, or, worse yet, some of the shoot-em-up-in-the-air fireworks purchased semi-legally across the state line. (I think Brigham got his fireworks in Evanston, Wyoming, just like everyone else.)

Even if Hank doesn't set the neighborhood ablaze, we still have to deal with him setting off firecrackers at all hours of the night. I've never understood the appeal of firecrackers: Yippee, they make a loud noise! I could get the same result by going around and hitting random people on the thumb with a hammer, only the loud noises I would be creating would be more colorful.

And then there are sparklers. Sparklers are the "kid toy" of the fireworks set. We light them on fire, hand them to a kid, and say, "Here's a stick on fire. Feel free to wave it around wildly, just be sure not to light your clothes on fire with it. And keep it away from your sister's hair, okay? Oh, and while you're holding it, the flame will be inching ever so closer to burning your hand off. Have fun!"

Now, I may have given you the impression that I don't like fireworks. That's not true: I love a good PROFESSIONAL fireworks show. When people who KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING stage fireworks shows while working in conjunction with the local fire departments to keep everyone safe, I'm all for it. These professional firework shows are beautiful and fantastic! (I just wish the finale would last a little longer.)

This piece originally appeared on the front page of the July 2017 edition of the ServeDaily newspaper. It can be found online here. I tinkered with it and made a few changes before posting it here to my blog. Read them both and see if you can spot the differences.