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? 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.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Outlaw Drives a Mini-Van

I'm an outlaw. I almost broke the law today. (It was a pretty close call.)

I was driving into town to get an oil change, and I was in the mini-van all by myself. I was cruising along on a route that I've been on hundreds of times. And that's when I did it...I almost got into the carpool lane!

The HOV lane calls to me.

I love the carpool lane. I drive in the carpool lane whenever I can. It's great. It's less crowded. I don't have to worry about changing lanes. I can (usually) go at a pretty good rate of speed. And so, as I was zooming down the freeway I automatically drifted over toward the carpool lane. But, no one else was in my car to do any pooling.

I'm not used to driving by myself. I've got four kids. And a wife. I've also got a few other relatives and/or friends (yes, I do have friends!) who occasionally ride with me. It's pretty rare when I'm in the van by myself. So, I can almost always drive in the carpool lane without any problem.

Usually not a problem.

Sometimes I wonder if I should use the carpool lane if it's just me and the kids. I mean, none of them can drive, so it's not like I'm keeping another vehicle off of the road by having them ride with me. But, it says "2 or more persons" are required for carpool lane, and my kids, even if they can't drive, are definitely persons, despite their small size and the fact that they occasionally growl like animals.

Since I usually have five other people in the van with me, haven't I built up enough of an extra-rider surplus that would excuse a little jaunt into the carpool lane? I could get away with it, couldn't I? After all, I'm in a mini-van; who would pull over the driver of a mini-van for being in the carpool lane? How often is anyone actually in a mini-van by themselves? It's called the HOV lane. Did you know that HOV stands for "high occupancy vehicle?" And isn't a mini-van the epitome of a high occupancy vehicle, even if only one person is occupying it?

There were a lot of reasons and excuses why I could have driven in the carpool lane...but I just couldn't do it. I'm not a very good outlaw. Maybe some day I'll get rebellious enough to drive in the carpool lane by myself. And that could lead to crossing the double white lines. (You know, real criminal behavior.) And then...who knows?

(Heck, I'm just two or three steps away from robbing a bank!)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The President and the 8th Grader

So, the President of the United States of America, the so-called "Leader of the Free World," just posted a video of himself at a professional wrestling event tackling and punching a man whose face has been replaced by the logo of CNN, the cable news network.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The President of the United States of America posted a video that showed him punching a man in the face at a professional wrestling event. In the video the man's face has been superimposed by the logo for CNN. (It turns out the man whose face has been blotted out by the CNN logo is none other than professional wrestler owner/overlord Vince McMahon, so in President Trump's defense this is a very punchable man.)

Some people think this is appalling. Some people think this is funny. Some people think this is shocking. Some people find it hard to be shocked anymore.

Can the President of the United States of America post a juvenile video of  himself beating someone up at a professional wrestling match? Of course he can! This is America, and we have freedoms here! This is what our brave armed forces have fought for over the years! (Well, maybe not specifically this freedom, but freedoms in general.)

Should the President of the United States of America post a juvenile video of himself beating someone up at a professional wrestling match? I'm going to say probably not. I would like to think that the President's time would be better spent working with senators and congressmen to institute the policies he was elected to institute, or talking with his advisers to see how best he could serve the American people, or even playing golf. Spending time posting videos of yourself beating someone else up is something that should really be left to 8th grade kids.

And speaking of 8th grade behavior, the President of the United States of America also spends much of his time insulting people he doesn't like. He likes to call people names. He's like a 13 year-old bully who finds a person's biggest flaw and then chides them by calling them names based on that flaw.

Is it true that some of these people said bad things about him first? Yes. But, the President of the United States of America should be above taunting people and calling them names, no matter who started it.

Think about this: if you, your spouse, or your children got on President Trump's bad side, what would he call you? What would he call your wife? What would he call your children? Maybe, just maybe, it would be better if he didn't insult anyone at all, right?

There are a lot of people who dislike President Trump.There are a lot of people who support President Trump. Let's put the politics aside for a moment. Can't we all agree that the President of the United States of America shouldn't be behaving like an 8th grade bully?

I'm starting to worry that for his next trick he'll start giving people wedgies. (And no one wants to see Nancy Pelosi with a wedgie!)