Friday, July 29, 2016

Maps vs. Siri

I'm pretty much an old school guy. (Or, at the very least, an old guy.)

So, when it came time to get ready to go on vacation, I made sure to pack my maps. Oh, I packed the old standby Rand McNally Road Atlas. I packed the Benchmark book of maps for the states where we would be traveling. I packed some good, old-fashioned folding maps, because it wouldn't be a vacation without a good old-fashioned foldy map.

Meanwhile, The Wife packed her "smart" phone.

I really didn't need my maps.

Because everyone needs a map of Chubbuck!

As we got in the van to leave, she simply held up her phone, spoke the words, "Directions to the Super 8 in Baker, Oregon," and I had absolutely no use for any of my maps. Siri, the all-knowing somewhat knowledgeable voice inside The Wife's phone, shouted out directions for the rest of the trip.

This is very convenient---most of the time. If you veer off Siri's spoken route in the least, she does not like it, and she will tell you so. Make the bold decision to stop for a potty break or to get some fuel, Siri will nag at you to get back to where she thinks you should be going. "Turn left at the next street." "Turn left at the next street." And, when she gets really testy, she'll just repeat, "Proceed to the route. Proceed to the route."

So, don't you dare get off the freeway to take a look at The World's Largest Ball of String. Siri will not like it! (Foldy maps never yell at you.)

At one point we were going to go to a museum, but the traffic was horrible. After waiting in stop-and-go construction traffic for half an hour, we decided to skip the trip to the museum. Siri would have none of that. She was going to get us to our destination, and she wasn't going to stop until we were there. I finally had to turn off my phone to get Siri to stop chastising me.

I still prefer my maps. But, Siri has some advantages. Siri will tell you where to go while driving through traffic, whereas it is difficult to look at a map while in motion. And, Siri does help in an area that maps seldom do: knowing if an exit goes off to the left or to the right.

So, I'm begrudgingly taking baby steps into the world of new technology. Oh, I'm still going to pack my maps. But, I'm willing to let Siri help guide us to our destination.

But, I don't care what Siri says, I'm going to stop at The World's Largest Ball of String whether she wants me to or not!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What Are the Chances?

Sometimes you just have to play the percentages.

The chance that someone agrees with this statement: "I can't decide between Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton because I really like them both." :0.0008%

The chance that one of your children needs to use the bathroom in your house at this moment: 12.7%

The chance that if one kid is in the bathroom, another kid has to go to the bathroom really, really has to go to the bathroom this exact moment!: 88.6%

The chance that I'll pay $899.00 for a big green t-shirt: 0.004%

The chance that Lucy will pull the football away from Charlie Brown at the last second: 98.3%

The chance that everything in the motel bathroom works exactly how you would like it to: 11.5%

The chance you'll run into road construction while driving on vacation: 94.3%

The chance that the people working behind the counter at McDonald's are actually competent: 64.9%

The chance that the motel continental breakfast serves bacon: 22.6%

The chance that the motel continental breakfast serves sausage: 53.8%

The chance that the motel continental breakfast serves bacon AND sausage: 8.7%

The chance that the motel continental breakfast serves stale pastries: 94.4%

The chance that an elephant stampeded through your kid's bedroom: 0.003%

The chance that it looks like an elephant stampeded through your kid's bedroom: 88.7%

The chance that, if you tell your kid to clean their room, they will look at you blankly and ask, "Why?": 68.2%

The chance that, when they see you with small kids, people will tell you, "Enjoy them while they're young. They grow up so fast!": 63.9%

The chance that when your kids grow up you will think, "My, that went by fast!": 99.8%

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Love a Parade!

I love a parade!

It's July, so that means the parade season is here. Between the 4th of July, Pioneer Day, Fiesta Days, Orchard Days, Onion Days, Salem Days, Art Days, Garfunkel Days, Daze Days, and Super Happy Fun Days, there are going to be a lot of parades over the next few weeks.

People love these parades. So much so, that folks will often stake out a spot on the parade route a day or two (or three) ahead of time. They'll camp out on the side of the road for the chance to have a decent view of the parade. Personally, I don't get this. I could understand camping out in order to be first in line for front row tickets for a Billy Joel concert, but not to see a parade.

(Did I just show my age by saying Billy Joel tickets would be worth camping out for? Would I be more "hip" and "with it" if I changed that to a Taylor Swift concert?) (And would I be more "hip" and "with it" if I didn't use terms like "hip" or "with it?")

Around here, parades are usually made up of the following kinds of entries: 1) dance teams, 2) beauty queens, 3) local businesses, 4) politicians, 5) floats, and 6) horses. (Oh, and horse poop.) These six types of parade entries can sometimes be mixed, matched, or combined. For example, a politician might be on a float or a horse. Or, local businesses might combine with dance teams, floats, or horses.

The great trifecta: beauty queens on a float throwing candy!

But, whatever it may be, no parade entry can be deemed truly successful unless it involves the throwing of candy. Salt water taffy is usually the candy of choice, but if a parade entry really wants to make a good impression, they're going to have to spend a bit more money. Full-size candy bars will leave a much bigger mark on parade-goer's minds than salt water taffy.

Of course, full-size candy bars will also leave a bigger mark on a parade-goer's face if it hits them there. That, along with cost, is probably why salt water taffy is so popular at parades. Would you rather get hit in the face with salt water taffy or a full-size Three Musketeers bar?

So, if you are a big fan of dance teams and marching bands, you'd better pick your spot now. If you've always wanted to get hit in the face with some salt water taffy thrown by a local politician, start camping out now. And, if you want to see a lot of horse poop, you're extra lucky, because it's parade AND rodeo season!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Day the Kid Eats More Than the Dad

I knew it would happen eventually. I just didn't think it would be so soon.

Apparently, every Friday The Wife gets bombarded with texts and/or e-mails from any and all of the pizza chains from whom we have ever ordered pizza. (For some reason they think if we ordered pizza from them once, we might do so again if they remind us how good their pizza was.)

Well, The Wife mentioned the texts to me, and we mutually agreed that pizza did sound good that night. (That I was scheduled to cook that evening certainly factored into the decision.) So, we had pizza.

And that's when it happened.

I'm a pretty big eater. (You don't get to over 250 pounds without the ability to pound down some food.) But, that night I ate four pieces of pizza and thought, "You know, I think I'm good." Meanwhile, Thing 2 (our six year-old son) started off with one piece of pizza. Then he asked for another. Then he asked for another. Then, once again, he asked for another.

"Are you sure?" I questioned when he requested his fourth piece.

"Yes," he said, confidently.

And he was sure. He quickly pounded down that fourth piece of pizza.  He even ate all the crust, which is something he doesn't always do. And, since he outscored me with the garlic bread, that meant that my six year-old son actually ate more food than I did!

I thought about mounting a comeback. I thought about just slamming one more piece of pizza in my mouth to make sure I maintained my manly dominance. But, my gut said "don't do it," and, for once, my brain actually listened.

No more leftovers!

I was surprised, but not completely shocked. There have been a couple of times when he's eaten more macaroni and cheese than me, but only because I let him. (He loves macaroni and cheese more than Kardashians love publicity, so, on occasion, I've let him have a bigger portion.) Still, I didn't think he would catch up to me on pizza. Pizza is in my wheelhouse.

This doesn't bode well for the future. Thing 1 (our eight year-old girl) can already come close to matching me when eating eggs or chili. (But not eggs and chili!) (It's an acquired taste.) Meanwhile, Thing 3 and Thing 4 both have a lot of untapped potential in the eating department. They'll eat more and more with every passing day.

The grocery bills could be debilitating. We might soon get to the point where we'll have to take out a loan to go bulk shopping at Costco! (And we'll really need to buy those 128 ounce cans of spaghetti sauce!)

And then there's the problem of leftovers. If the kids keep eating like this, there will be no leftovers! What am I supposed to do if there are no leftovers?

I might have to actually cook something!

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Mom and the 8-Track Tape

As parents, we're always worried if we're doing things right.

Are we saying the right things? When do we discipline and when do we not? When should we control things in their lives, and when should we allow them freedom to choose on their own?

What about when they're away from us at school or with friends? What can we do to influence them when they are out of our sight? Is there anything we can really do?

There are a lot of questions. There aren't always easy answers. It's hard to know exactly what to say to best influence our children.

But, sometimes we can influence them without saying a single word.

I'm reminded of a story my brother likes to tell about a friend of his, and how that friend's mother taught him a lesson without uttering a sound.

My brother is a few years older than me, and he grew up in the era when kids listened to music by means of 8-track tapes. (I grew up listening to 8-track tapes, too, but by the time I was old enough to buy my own music, cassette tapes had pushed 8-tracks aside.) (Compact discs were just a far-flung future dream.)

When my brother was in high school, he had a friend, (we'll call him "Jed,") who drove one of the hottest sports cars around, a Rally Sport Chevy Camaro. It was a fancy new car, and had all the bells and whistles, including a state of the art 8-track stereo system.

For those of you unfamiliar with 8-track tape systems, an 8-track tape was a plastic cartridge a little longer, twice as wide, and about four times as thick as a standard iPod. To play the music on an 8-track, you would literally shove the cartridge into the rectangular hole of an 8-track tape player. The tape would go about halfway into the tape player until it connected, making a loud "ka-chunk" sound. Then it would play the music. (It would also make the "ka-chunk" sound when you pulled the 8-track cartridge out of the tape player.)

An 8-track tape cartridge (which holds 12 songs) side-by-side with my iPod (which holds 12,000 songs.)

One day Jed, Jed's mom, my brother, and another kid were going to some church activity. The four of them piled into Jed's car, with Jed driving, his mom in the passenger seat, and my brother and the other kid in the back seat.

Jed was a big, tough farm-boy. He was proud of his car and its stereo system, so he wanted to show it off to his friends. He grabbed an 8-track tape and shoved it into the stereo. "Ka-chunk." Unfortunately, Jed didn't ride in his car with his mom very often, and on this occasion he didn't put much thought into which 8-track album he chose to play.

It just so happened that the tape he chose to play that day was by a heavy metal group called Nazareth, and the song playing was titled "Hair of the Dog." The chorus for the song "Hair of the Dog" consists of the group repeatedly screaming the phrase, "Now you're messing with a son of a *itch," over and over and over again. [HINT: *= b]

Jed was driving down the road, stereo blaring, without a care in the world. His mother was also pretty carefree, until the lyrics of the song started to register with her. Her brow furrowed. She glanced at the stereo. She glanced at her son, who was obliviously rocking out behind the steering wheel. She calmly rolled down her window. She reached down, yanked the 8-track cartridge out of the tape player ("ka-chunk,") and threw it out the window ("Fwing!")

In one fell swoop, it was "ka-chunk," "fwing!"

Jed was flabbergasted. He started to protest, but looked at his mother and stopped. She didn't say a word. She didn't have to. All she had to do was give him one stern look. And that one, simple, silent look conveyed the entire message that she didn't need to say. That message---You know you shouldn't be listening to music like that, and you won't be listening to music like that if I have anything to say about it---came across perfectly without a single sound being uttered.

Jed didn't complain about one of his favorite albums being literally thrown out the window. He knew better. With one quick action and one simple look, she taught him a lesson that day. But, the reason that lesson was effective was because a foundation was there. Jed's mom had taught him over the years what he should and shouldn't do. So, when the time came to teach him a lesson that day, she didn't have to say a word.

And that's the lesson I take out of this story as a parent. I need to continually lay that foundation, teaching my children what's right and what's wrong, so that if I ever have to fling a proverbial 8-track tape out the window, they'll understand.

Ka-chunk. Fwing!

Special thanks to my neighbor Cathy for providing the 8-track tape for the picture! (Cathy has excellent taste in music.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The First Horrible Kiss

Those of you who have been reading my stuff for a while (all seven of you) might remember that I've had a series of posts about my courtship with my wife. There was:

          Our first meeting: The Fixer Upper
          Our first date: Our First Date: The Day I Almost Died
          Our second date: The Date That Lasted 16 Hours
          Our third date: We Held Hands and There Were Fireworks

You can check out those links to get caught up if you'd like. Or, I'll give you the quick recap. I'm a bit of a slow-moving guy. (They call me "Slow Joe" for a reason. I was an actual 40 year-old virgin.) It took until our third date before I successfully was able to hold hands.

So, to continue with the story, the next step would be to chronicle our fourth date. But, the fourth date wasn't all that chronicle-able. The Wife and I went on a double-date with the couple who first set us up. We went bowling and we ate at Olive Garden. It was a good night, and a fun night, but nothing extraordinary happened.

Especially at the end of the date.

As I pulled the car up to her house to drop her off, I knew I wanted to kiss her. But, I wasn't exactly sure how to go about doing so. Trusty Rusty, the 1995 Chevy Cavalier that I was driving at the time, had bucket seats with the gear shift between the seats. I wasn't sure of the logistics of how to get close enough to her to actually lock lips. Sitting on the gear shift didn't seem like a particularly comfortable or feasible option. I longed for one of the giant cars I grew up with that had the big bench front seat.

I wanted to kiss her, but I wanted to kiss her in the privacy of the car. I did not want our first kiss to be out in the open on her front porch. I hadn't had very good experiences on front porches. On a front porch, damn near anyone in the entire world could possibly be looking on. I didn't want our first kiss to be a public experience.

So, I did nothing. No kiss. No attempt at a kiss. Nothing.

I just walked her to her door and said good night.

So, when it came time to plan the fifth date, I had one thing and one thing only on my mind. The fifth date was not going to end until I had actually kissed her!!!

The date started off with a simple idea: she was going to cook for me. I met her at her condo, where she had cooked up some stuffed shells for dinner. They were delicious. She was a good cook! Of course, that's not mentioning that she made enough stuffed shells to feed about 17 people. She was a bit embarrassed by the large amount of leftovers, but I didn't mind at all. (I've long lived by the adage that it's better to have too much food than not enough.)

From there, we went out for dessert. We stopped at a new little place called Pudding On the Rice. It was just like a Baskin Robbins, except instead of ice cream they offered a variety of flavors of rice pudding. (It was really good, but, as you might expect, it was out of business within a couple of years.)

And then, my plan for a kiss went into action. After dessert we climbed in Trusty Rusty and went for a drive. I had decided that the best place for a first kiss was a quiet, isolated spot with a beautiful view. I knew just the spot.

A year or so earlier I had stumbled across a road up Provo Canyon that led up a mountain to a view of the entire Provo/Orem metroplex. It was isolated, and beautiful, and the perfect spot for a secluded first kiss. And so, that night I took her up to the viewpoint on Squaw Peak Road.

When we got to the viewpoint, I was a bit surprised and flummoxed. It wasn't nearly as isolated or secluded as I thought. There were probably a dozen other cars there. It turns out just about everyone (except me) knows that the Squaw Peak viewpoint is Utah's very own "Inspiration Point." It's where couples go to make out.

My Not-Yet-Wife was from the area, so she knew Squaw Peak and its reputation. I can only shudder at what she thought as I turned the car up the road.

I was a bit aghast when I saw the crowd gathered at the viewpoint. But, I was undaunted. I was ready. I came there for a reason, by golly! I drove there to kiss my girlfriend, and I was going to kiss her come hell, high water, or hordes of horny teenagers!

And here is where it gets a little difficult to write this. You see, it's one thing to admit that I was a forty year-old virgin. Sex is and should be a fairly serious thing. There's no shame in not being frivolous with your sexuality.

Kissing, however, is another matter. Kissing can be frivolous. Kissing is no big deal. Even nerds kiss girls in junior high and high school.

And yet here I was, 40 years old, and I had never kissed a girl. It may seem unfathomable to many of you, but it's true.

So, when I pulled up to the Squaw Peak viewpoint with the intent to kiss my girlfriend, it was a pretty darn big deal to me.

All those people were there, but I didn't care. Trusty Rusty's stupid gear shift was there, but I didn't care. I had no idea what I was doing, but I didn't care. I thought about waiting for the "right" moment, but I knew I had no idea what a "right" moment looked like. But, somehow, someway, I mustered up the nerve to give it a shot.

I puckered my lips, leaned over the gear shift, closed my eyes, moved my face in the general direction of her face, and hoped to high heaven that my lips would somehow meet her lips. If her eyes were open, she would have seen something that looks like this:

Against all odds, she actually let me kiss her! It was amazing!!! It was incredible!!! And, as kisses go, it was pathetic. Very, very pathetic.

I was very lucky that she was nice and understanding and patient. She knew I was lacking in kissing experience, and she helped me through that first kiss. She didn't mock me. She didn't laugh at me. She just let me lunge at her blindly with those stupid lips, knowing that, over time and with some practice, I would get better at it. And I did.

I say she didn't mock me or laugh at me, and she didn't---at that time. A few weeks later, after I had a better idea of what I was doing, we talked about that night and that first horrible kiss, and then she mocked me and laughed at me. And I deserved it.

But, it was an important first step for me. I'll always remember that night at the Squaw Peak Inspiration Point when I threw caution to the wind on our fifth date and flung my lips in her general direction. You always remember your first horrible kiss.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The 7 Types of Facebook Birthday Wishers

Facebook is fantastic! Where else can you see dozens of pictures of grandkids (or kids,) watch videos of people making recipes, and learn the political leanings of high school classmates.

And, there is no better place to wish someone a happy birthday than Facebook. Why? For one thing, Facebook is there to remind you about the birthdays of all the people you care about. (And many that you don't.) With Facebook, you'll never forget anyone's birthday ever again! (As long as you make sure to log in every day.)

There are seven types of Facebook birthday wishers. They are:

1. The Birthday Completist
These are the people who feel compelled to wish every single one of their Facebook friends a happy birthday. They check that "____ is celebrating a birthday" notice constantly, and post a "Happy Birthday" to everyone whose name appears.

These people are also sometimes known as the "I Didn't Know I Was Friends With That Person" people. You might not see them post anything else on Facebook ever, but, by golly, they're going to wish you a happy birthday.

2. The Elaborate Poster
These people feel the need to post more than just a terse message of the words "happy birthday." They will post fancy picture greetings, or animated GIF greetings, or maybe even an elaborate video birthday message. They'll go to and make a fun and personalized video just for you.

These are the people who used to mail out greeting cards to everyone until they got just too many friends. But, they still want you to know that they are really excited about your birthday.

Balloons make every birthday better!
(If you don't believe me, just ask my kids.)

3. The Personalized Poster
These people want to wish you a happy birthday, but they also want you to know that they actually know who you are. In their birthday greeting they will include a snippet of personal information, an inside joke, or a memory of something the two of you experienced together. They do this to let you know that you are worth the effort to them to type out more than just the two words, "happy birthday."

4. The Picker and Chooser
These are the people who sometimes send out birthday greetings, and sometimes don't. They'll pick only some of their friends to send birthday greetings to, and others they won't. The cutoff line is sometimes very arbitrary. They might decide to only send birthday wishes to people they've actually spoken to in the last year. Or, they might have designed a sophisticated algorithm to decide who is deserving of greetings and who is not. Or, they might just send out birthday wishes on a whim.

5. The Facebook Messengerer
These are the people who feel that a birthday message is more important than just leaving a quick greeting on someone's Facebook wall. Instead of posting with the masses, they will send a personal message to you on Facebook Messenger. They are interested in having an actual personal exchange with you.

6. The Day Laterer
These are the people who missed your birthday, but want to make sure you know they know you had a birthday. Maybe they didn't log in to Facebook that day, or maybe they meant to post something on the actual day, but forgot. There are always at least two or three stragglers. (There is, after all, a complete section of "Belated" cards in every greeting card display.)

7. The Birthday Ignorer
These are people you interact with on Facebook frequently, but they don't send out any birthday greetings. You know that they know it is your birthday. And they know that you know that they know it's your birthday. But, they're not going to say anything about it. They'd rather just not get involved with birthdays at all.

There you have it, the seven types of Facebook birthday wishers. Sometimes, some of the types can co-mingle a bit. A "Birthday Completist" might also be an "Elaborate Poster," or a "Personalized Poster" might also be a "Day Laterer." But, those are the general types.

I'm not saying one type of birthday wisher is better than any other. Each individual person needs to find a way that they are comfortable with. But, I will say one thing:

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How Do You Eat Your Toast?

All you can do with your kids is try to teach them well. Teach them right from wrong. Teach them to make wise decisions. Teach them to be good people.

And, even if you've done all of that, you still might end up disappointed. They still might eat their toast the wrong way.

I noticed it the other day with Thing 3 (our 19 month-old daughter.) She was eating a piece of toast, and she ate the middle out of the bread, leaving the entire crust intact. I was so disappointed and heartbroken. She's one of those people. It was a very sad day.

There is a gaping hole in the middle of her toast!

She's not alone. Her six year-old brother, Thing 2, does the same thing. And sometimes, he's even worse. He's constantly leaving the crust uneaten on his toast, sandwiches, or pizza. But, quite often I'll even come across a piece of toast he's "eaten" to find that all he has done is lick the jam off of the bread! It's horrifying!

There is, of course, a correct way to eat toast and sandwiches. It's the way I eat them. I eat all the way around the outside, eating the crust first, so that the best part, the crust-less middle innards, is the last thing I eat. Why do I do this? Isn't it obvious? I save the best part for last!

I eat the bread crust first. I eat the pizza crust first. And, when I eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Egg, one of the finest forms of food ever to be mass produced, I nibble around all of the chocolate edge, leaving the highlight, the peanut buttery middle, as my last bite! Why would anyone eat any other way?

Thing 1, my eight year-old daughter, eats things the same way I do. (She is a very smart girl.)

So, Thing 1 and I do things the right way, while Thing 2 and Thing 3 do it wrong. It's a balance between good and evil. But then I thought, wait, what about The Wife? I wasn't sure where she stood on this weighty, important issue. I had never seen her eat the crust first, nor had I seen her eat the middle out of her toast, although I had on occasion seen her eat up to, then discard, the crust of her pizza.

I asked her to find out which strategy she preferred. To my dismay, she aligned herself with the middle-first/crust-last people. She said the reason I had never seen her eat middle first is because she always cuts her toast or sandwiches in half diagonally so that her first bite can be from the middle.

She explained her philosophy to me. She eats the middle first so that she always eats the best part in case she gets full. She doesn't want to get full on the crust, then not have enough room to eat the best part, the middle.

It seems like a reasonable philosophy. But, I'm a waste not/want not kind of guy. I know I'm not going to be wasting the crust; I'm going to eat everything. As such, I want to save the best bite for last.

So, for now, in our family the middle-first people have the majority by the count of 3-2. It's all going to depend on the baby, Thing 4. He is still less than two months old, so he has yet to enjoy his first piece of toast or his first sandwich.

I can only hope that he'll be a crust-first jedi. (There must be balance in the force.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Turning 50 (Or Maybe Forty-Ten)

A century is a long time.

But, a half-century isn't all that long, is it? A half-century is a pretty short amount of time when you really stop to consider it. Fifty years---that's like nothing, right? Fifty years is just a tiny little blip.

Fifty years is like lightning in a bottle!

I keep trying to convince myself of this, but when you really sit down and think about it, fifty years is a long time. (And yes, I have to sit down to think about it, because I'm too tired to keep standing for very long.)

This weekend I am going to "celebrate" my fiftieth birthday. A half-century of Slow Joe.

A lot has changed in the fifty years that I've been alive. No one had ever heard of Star Wars when I was born, and no one had ever seen Star Trek, either. (Mr. Spock first appeared on earth a little more than two months after I did.) Man hadn't been to the moon, Richard Nixon hadn't been President of the United States, and the Big Mac hadn't yet been introduced to a waiting, hungry America.

I constantly find myself referring to people that a lot of folks I deal with now have never even heard of, people like Bob Hope, Johnny Carson, Walter Cronkite, and Captain Kangaroo. Playing basketball in the morning, when the score is tied at 20-20, I'll find myself jokingly saying, "20/20, starring Hugh Downs and Barbara Walters." I get nothing but blank stares. (Come on, guys! Hugh Downs! That's funny-ish. Maybe John Stossel?) Heck, even when I refer to myself as "Churchball Ostertag" I fail to realize that most of the guys I play ball with aren't old enough to remember Greg Ostertag in his heyday. I was in my thirties when Greg Ostertag was in his heyday. (Yes, Greg Ostertag did have a heyday.)

I don't feel old (except when I'm walking down a flight of stairs.) Fifty isn't old. 50 is the new 35. (I'm not even sure what that means, but it sounds good.)

I don't think I'm going to have a big celebration for my 50th birthday. A dear friend of mine recently turned fifty on a beach in Hawaii. She was literally Hawaii Five-0! And while that sounds like a good idea, it costs more money than I'm will to spend to get from Utah to Hawaii, so I'll have to settle for Utah Five-0, which doesn't sound nearly as fun. (And yes, when I think of Hawaii Five-0, I think of Jack Lord, not, um, whatever the name of the guy is who is playing McGarrett on the current remake.)

Fifty is big, but I'm okay with it. The funny thing is, The Wife is having more trouble with me turning fifty than I am. As I've explained before, there is a pretty big age difference between The Wife and I, and she's usually fine with it. But, she says being in my fifties just makes me sound much older than being in my forties.

She has a solution for this problem. Instead of turning fifty, I'm going to be turning forty-ten. And she's actually halfway serious about this. Forty-ten! It does seem to be the natural progression from forty-nine, and it doesn't actually sound too bad. I'm going along with the whole "forty-ten" thing for a couple of reasons: 1) I love my wife; and B) I'm looking forward to next year when I can say I'm "forty-leven." (Forty-leven sounds like a zany, made-up number, and I look forward to saying it as often as I can. It's much more fun than 51.)

So, I think I'm going to embrace this. I'm going to celebrate my forty-tenth birthday! I'm going to spend one more full decade in my forties, from forty-ten until forty-nineteen. A half-century is nothing! I'm still young, and no one can convince me otherwise!

Or so I thought.

I had just about finished writing this post when I went out and checked the mailbox. On the outside of the envelope was a little message saying, "Happy birthday, Joseph!" And inside the envelope? My very first AARP card!

My very first AARP card!!! (I'm really looking forward to the free insulated travel bag.)
Nowhere in the material they sent me did it say what AARP stands for. Is it:
A. Advancing Aged Retired People
B. All-American Restaurant Patrons
C. American Association of Ridiculous Politicians
D. None of the above

Oh my gosh! The AARP? You're officially old when the AARP starts sending you stuff in the mail! I'm not AARP age yet, am I? I don't feel old enough for the AARP. I'm not old enough for the AARP!!!

I think I'll have to send the AARP a letter. I'll write them and let them know I'm not old enough for the AARP.

After all, I'm only forty-ten!