We Need to Talk About this Wii Fit Thing

>> Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today has been a rough day so far. This is day 4 of my internet not working very well, and for the most part the only program I can get into is Blogger. (I guess you don't mind that, or you wouldn't be reading this, now would you?)

I'm Facebook deprived, Chat deprived, Email deprived, and I even had to have someone tell me that the King of Pop died yesterday. (OK, another clue. You are getting these updates on a time delay ... yesterday for me is not yesterday for you.... It's like time dilation theory in physics. It makes the most sense if you try not to think about it too hard.)

I have found that as far as the housework goes, I am decidedly more productive when the internet is down ... unless I decide to go shopping that is. Today as I type this I have already weeded around one tree outside, scrubbed a toilet, cleaned a countertop with Clorox, yelled at the cat for scratching my wooden bench, had an argument with my toddler about what was for lunch, went to CVS to buy wrapping paper, and removed a toddler toy from the box. Out of all of those things, it was the toddler toy that took the longest. I also made a phonecall to my sister, who didn't answer but did text me back. The funny thing is that she texted me back to my landline, and some computer called me to read the text to me. This might be the subject of a future post. I'm still mulling this one over.

So, for fear I might actually upset the balance of order and chaos in the house by trying to do too much cleaning, I decided it was time to tackle my Wii Fit again. Now let me start by saying I am not angry with the Wii Fit. It is not the Wii Fit's fault that my body is slow, heavy, and round. I'll take the blame for that. It can call me obese, tell me that I'm clumsy, and show a picture of me with a tire around my middle. That's okay. (But hey, my Wii Fit age today is 37 -- pretty close!!!) I did get a kick out of it asking me whether Darling Husband is going to come back or not. Ha, ha.

But really, when you think about it, this Wii Fit thing is rather sick. Let's take the soccer challenge. I'm supposed to stand on the board, lean back and forth and head some soccer balls. Sound okay to you? Here is the catch. When you lean left or right, it isn't so bad. In the middle, though, it looks like the soccer balls are really coming right at your head, and honest to pete my instinct is to DUCK! DUCK! Plus, when the soccer ball is aimed right at my head, it is sure hard to see what might be behind it, like the FLYING SHOE SOMEONE THREW AT ME. (Minus one point for hitting the flying shoe.) Already this game is twisted. I'm hitting something with my head, and people are throwing shoes at me. If the shoe hits me, my virtual head whips back like I'm in a V8 commercial. Oh, but it gets better. In addition to the flying shoes, some programmer thought it was funny to throw panda heads at me. Yes, panda heads. Now we have moved from twisted to sick. I'm supposed to head 60-120 soccer balls while avoiding shoes and FLYING PANDA HEADS that someone is deliberately throwing at me. WOW! If this were a cartoon, we wouldn't let our kids near it!

I have to draw the line on the tightrope walk, though. Now this one is truly sick. I'm supposed to walk "normally" (while walking in place on a sideways balance beam. Ummm. Hmmm. I'll let you know when I figure that one out.) My virtual counterpart then ventures out onto a piece of rope tied between two buildings, so high up it might have been a scene in a Spiderman movie. If I misstep, my virtual self flaps her arms in panic. Halfway out onto the rope, a crawling bear trap that looks like the langoliers from the Stephen King movie comes snapping toward me. I jump or die. If I jump and land wrong, I FALL TEN STORIES TO THE GROUND! To make it worse, the computer sets up all these virtual people to WATCH me. Now, have you ever heard of anything so sick? Bring back first person shooter games because I think they were far less violent! (And yet I keep playing. Go figure.)

I will say that my all time favorite game on the Wii Fit is the first exercise in yoga. You practice breathing. According to my personal trainer, I am a "professional" breather. Good to know I'm good at something.


I Guess I am an Addict

>> Monday, June 29, 2009

You know, I am not a tremendous fan of new technology. I'm content with all my current technology can do for me, and I don't really ever think I need something new.

Take the IPOD for example -- I didn't see the point. What was the real bonus in having this new gadget when my DVDs worked just fine? IPODs aren't cheap, and I'm not so addicted to music (anymore) that I can't live without having ALL of them with me at any one time.

Well, I bought an IPOD for Darling Husband for Christmas one year, and now I can't live without it. It holds ALL my books on DVD, and I even found free TV programs to download. Of course, they are TV programs I would never have watched on TV, but hey, they are free, right?

The same thing happened with my GPS, as some of you might remember from earlier posts. The Borrowers are not back from vacation yet, so I still don't have my GPS back. If they don't return it soon, I might have to go back to the "it was stolen" theory, which is so much more unsettling than little tiny humans living in my walls.

The DVR was another great curse for me, as it has given me such liberty to save TV that I am about 3 seasons behind in some shows that have since been cancelled. It drives me nuts when the record feature doesn't, and the whole thing has corrupted my toddler's sense of timing.

Of all the modern conveniences and addictions, I think Facebook might be the worst. I thought FB was overrated, and I thought status updates was a pretty stupid idea, but now I can't seem to live without it. I recognized this when I found myself describing "Flair" to my mother and asking her to join up so I could send her some anti-Michigan Flair. With my internet connection being so sporadic the past 3 days, I have been tortured because FB is one of the hardest applications for my poor beleagured internet connection to download. My epiphany about the state of my addiction came when I realized that every time my internet connection went out I felt compelled to update my status to tell everyone my connection was gone.



I Created A Monster

>> Friday, June 26, 2009

I thought I was doing a good thing. I did it in the name of convenience. I thought about the evil that might come from what I was doing, but I figured I would stop in time, or somehow it would all work out.

I was wrong. I created a monster, all in the name of modern technology.

I used the DVR to record children's programming. Now I can't stop. The toddler thinks that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is available on demand. I've disrupted the linear process of TV watching. When Ooh and Aah (the Disney Channel talking Monkeys that introduce each new show or segment) talk about what show is coming up next, it is meaningless to him. "Handy Manny is coming up next." Well, no he isn't because this is a recorded show, and the Handy Manny episode in question ended yesterday.

OK, this is bad, but it gets worse. We had a "chilling out" day once upon a time, and we watched all of our stored up episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, deleting them as we went along. You see where I'm going with this, right? The DVR has been having some issues, and it sometimes doesn't record all the cartoons it is supposed to. The next morning ... no Mickey Mouse. We can watch Handy Manny, Sesame Street, or whichever Disney cartoon happens to be on (gasp) live TV. But no Mickey Mouse.

This is the end of the world to a two year old. Well, no. Let's be fair. This is the end of the world to a certain two year old who never learned about live TV and thinks that with a few clicks of that white remote, Mommy can magically make Mickey Mouse appear anytime she wants. So, obviously, I was the meanest Mommy in the whole world, because I wouldn't let him watch Mickey Mouse. I kept trying to explain that it wasn't me, that we just didn't have any more episodes of Mickey Mouse, but he didn't believe me. I was just mean, mean, mean. Thankfully, Mickey does eventually come on TV in the mornings, but it was a long morning. To top it off, the internet wasn't working, and the DVR is still acting up, so we STILL don't have any MM episodes stored up.

Wow. I don't know how many more tricks I have left in my Mommy bag while we wait for technology to be repaired. (Take that passive voice, former English teachers!)

I could switch to videos, but I've only one episode of MM on DVD. How many times could I stand to watch Mickey Mouse Saves Christmas"? I don't think I want to find out. On the other hand, there would be one benefit. When the little guy gets his little fingers on the remote and starts pressing buttons, we won't have lots of unusual shows showing up on the recording list. (I had no idea our toddler was interested in the history of the Spanish Inquisition.)

Hopefully we will get this sorted out before we run out of ideas. In the meantime, the talking teddy bear is being smothered with grape jelly kisses. He's a white bear. This will be fun.


Some Things Just Shouldn't Change

>> Thursday, June 25, 2009

This world is a pretty changeable place. I get that. Kids grow up, friends move away, people die, stock markets rise and fall, even civilizations rise and fall ... nothing lasts forever.

Nonetheless, I think there are some things in this world that just shouldn't change. Or at the very least, they shouldn't change the way they have.

Let's take the solar system, for example. The solar system is a dynamic structure, always moving, and always dealing with the cosmic risks of collision, gravity, decay, and ultimately, old age. Scientists, in turn, are always dealing with the mysteries of how things work, how things came about, and how they will expire. Inevitably, scientists also deal with new discoveries, adding to our knowledge base and forcing us, as humans with limited knowledge, to adapt and learn and expand our thinking.

One thing that should NOT happen to us as residents of the solar system is to lose a planet. I mean, seriously, how does that happen? How did Pluto become an un-planet? I've been thinking about this for a long time now. Did the sun forget to pay the gravity bill? Did the other planets play crack the whip and Pluto let go?

No, no. As it turns out, Pluto is still there. The only thing that happened was a bunch of scientists got together and reclassified Pluto out of a job. Yeesh, and we thought the US economy was in trouble.

Putting aside the psychological impact (on Pluto and on millions of grownups whose elementary school education is now not only obsolete but absolutely wrong -- this is worse than when Canada combined provinces and screwed up my game of Geography trivia), putting aside the emotional impact (waaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!), this is just silly. Imagine all the tax dollars and charitable dollars that had to (and have to) be spent to correct all the museum exhibits in the world. I'm sure many of you remember that grainy video that played in the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum for generations (sing it with me!), "The family of the Sun. The family of the Sun. There are 9 planets in the family of the Sun." So -- what did the Smithsonian do? Did they go out and find a bunch of little children to record a new song? Did they just shut the exhibit down for lack of funds? I mean, was this all really necessary? Actually, knowing the Smithsonian (and no disrespect intended), they probably just put a sign over the booth that says, "Exhibit is being updated." After all, that is what the Museum of Natural History has done to the human evolution exhibit since I moved to DC 10 years ago. (I don't think they have finished yet, have they? It has been about 2 years since I checked....)

I understand that classification systems change. But was this really necessary? Wouldn't a footnote have been a whole lot easier? You know, it could say something like, "Under the current classification system, Pluto would not have qualified to be a planet, because under the new cosmic zoning law, planets are not permitted in the Kuiper belt. However, given Pluto's longstanding good citizenship, we have decided to grandfather it until a new Building Permit is requested, at which time it is subject to reclassification under the existing zoning law."

Like I said, some things just shouldn't change.


What Do You Mean "Challenging?"

>> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Someone once asked me if I missed the challenge of working now that I've decided to stay home.

Honestly, I'm not sure what they meant. Sure, my job was challenging, but in many ways, staying at home is even more challenging. After all, I am the caregiver for one toddler, three inside cats, two outside cats, and a husband. Here are some examples of things I deal with weekly.

Why did the electronic water dish for the cat stop working? Why do we have an electronic water dish anyway? Now that I've taken it apart, how do I clean it without submerging the electronic parts? Once I clean it, how does it go back together? Where is all the dirt coming from on this clean bowl? Is this so gross that I have to clean the sink now? I could spend a morning on this job.

Other equally challenging tasks follow, each of which can be broken down much like the cat's water bowl into equally challenging subparts: How do you put ointment into a cat's eye? (Just think about this one for a bit.) Will I really end up divorced if I don't chase after Houdini the escaping cat, who just ran outside again today? Do I really want to know what the cat is meowing at? How will I actually catch the coffee mugs multiplying in the cupboard? (If I succeed, I will be rich, rich, rich!) Now that I've taken the cover off the highchair, how do I put it back? What button, exactly, did the toddler push on the 6 remote controls that work the "entertainment system"? (I need this one fixed before prime time!!!) What happens if I machine wash the pillows and stuffed toys that say, "Surface Wash Only?" Can I afford to fix it if the answer is really bad? How does that assembly-required toy go together? How can I assemble it in time for the birthday without a certain birthday kid seeing it? Where do all the socks go in the dryer? (Oh, Erma, we haven't solved it yet.) More importantly, how do I design the trap to prevent my socks from going there?

In many ways this new job is exactly like my job as a contracts drafter. I have to solve the problem at hand, anticipate anything else that can possibly go wrong, and solve those too. It is all the same thing, really.

But right now I need to go solve the problem of the toddler pulling all the cat food and pediasure out of the pantry and stacking it (ever so neatly) on the step stool.


Do You Smell That?

>> Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We took a quick 3 day trip to the deep South last week. With such a short trip, especially over the weekend, there is a whole lot less you have to do to get ready. I'm still of the philosophy that everything should be neat and clean before you leave so you don't get discouraged when you get home, but there is only so much I can do in this family. I mean, after all, pets and a small child live here.

When we finally got home, it was very late, and we were tired. The yard was looking a little long in the tooth when we left, but with all the rain (you know what I mean), there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it. Obviously, the rain continued while we were gone. I know this because the tarps covering the kid's playset were sunk under the weight of about a foot of water, the yard was a yard deep, and my mother called me while I was gone to say it was still raining.

We opened up the door, came inside, carried the sleeping bub upstairs, and looked around. Something wasn't right. "Do you smell that?" I asked Darling Husband. He said, "I was about to ask you the same thing." It isn't the toddler, and it doesn't smell like the cats." (These are the first two things a parent and pet owner blame -- the diaper, and the pets.) Oh boy. What fun! We were about to embark on a potentially lengthy game of "Find the Funk."

The Funk was apparent the moment we opened the door, but it permeated the entire house. We couldn't even find a point of origin, and it smelled like mold. Ooh, this was going to be a good one. Where could it be? What could it be?

Check the litter. Nope. No spills, near misses. Empty the litter. Nothing improves. We did find three hairballs in three different rooms, but cleaning those up had no effect on the smell. Hmm.

Cat food bowls. Okay, they are looking a little bit green after three days. Maybe that's it. Soak bowls in sink, and odor improves. Keep looking.

It has been raining for years now ... maybe the air conditioner needs to run a little higher. Okay, turn it up. We can sleep under blankets tonight. Smell diffuses, but it doesn't go away.

By now its midnight, and we're beat. So, we retire and hope for the best. By morning, nothing has changed. Still Funky. The game continues.

Cat accident in the corner ... okay, we missed that last night. Still no improvement. Open dishwasher to put in cat dishes. YIKES! Can dishes really mold in 3 days? Obviously, in this rainforest, it can. Hmm. I think we're on to something. Wash dishes again. Okay, that's much better.

But wait ... there is still Funk. Check garbage. Nope. Not that. Refrigerator? Ummm, don't go there. I'm sure that isn't it. Feed baby, spill baby food on self, remove shirt, pretreat, open laundry machine ... wait. How long have those towels been in there?

Hopefully by running the dishwasher and doing the laundry again we have finally finished the game of "Find the Funk." I sure hope so. I'm running out of ideas, and we are out of scented candles.

Now, what to do about that yard? Well, by this time I think we have few options. I could call for an early hay bailing. Instead, though, I'm seriously considering just posting a sign in the yard that says I'm reducing my carbon footprint. That should solve it.


The Mystery of Hairstyles

>> Sunday, June 21, 2009

I think I've discovered a great secret. I think I finally understand the mystery of hairstyles. Here it is: At a given hair length, there really is only one hairstyle that we are all trying to achieve. We are all just more or less screwing it up depending on where we live. Yep. That's it.

Let me explain what I mean.

Let's pretend there is a fashion-icon trendsetter living in Fashion Capital. Let's call her "Ms. Trend". Ms. Trend sports a set of long locks that are straight and smooth from root to tip, with nice sharp edges. (I have to digress and say that except for the sharp edges, we called this the "Marcia Brady" haircut when I was young. I wonder what 18 year old supermodels would say if they knew they had Marcia Brady's hairdo. I wonder if they know who Marcia Brady is.)

OK, so Ms. Trend leaves New York one day and heads to South Atlantic Coastal City where the humidity is at high fog density, the temperature is somewhere between Venus and the Sun, and the air condenses on your skin when you walk. Thirty seconds after stepping off the airplane, Ms. Trend has massive frizz. A new style is born. Thousands of teenagers world wide start exercising their credit cards for perms. Now the real irony is that Ms. Trend didn't create a frizzy hairdo. She created a straight one ... and it came out differently just once. So, an entire generation of wanna-be's are trying to get Ms. Trend's hairdo all the wrong way! They should be straightening their hair and moving to South Florida to get the right look. Remember -- it isn't what you do, it is where you live.

I have a theory that Jersey "Big Hair" came about much this way. Some fashion ancestor of Ms. Trend's was slicked with styling product and accidentally set foot on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, New Jersey or on the beach in Atlantic City, met the wind, her hair froze that way, and she got snagged by the papperazzi when she returned inside before her travelling hair stylist could break the glue and pull her hair back down. I'm still working on this one, but it would explain an awful lot of things, don't you think?

This revelation on hair styles has explained something I've wondered about myself for years and years. I am styling my hair the exact same way that I was in college. Really. I'm not that original. But I was looking at pictures of myself 10 years ago, wondering how I ever got that kind of lift and ... yes ... height in my hair then that I don't have now? If you have been with me so far, you understand it already. Nothing changed. I just MOVED! Yep. In Windy Coastal City where I used to live, my hair froze back away from my face and made a nice poof on my head. In humid Virginia, things lie a little bit more flat.

This takes an awful lot of stress out of styling and trips to the hair salon. I know the truth now. There is only one hairstyle out there, and the only difference is how long, how short, and how blonde to go.


Guess What

>> Thursday, June 18, 2009

I just arrived in Florida, and you won't believe what happened.

It's raining.

Enough said.


Things I Learned on Vacation

>> Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I recently went on a vacation to Lake Tahoe and Reno. What a fun trip!

I learned:

My toddler can sleep in a bed that isn't a playpen or crib ... so long as he isn't at home.

When your favorite wine is really on sale, no one else in your group drinks and you look like you have a real problem.

Folks in Nevada have a different idea of "really hot" than I do living in Virginia. Thank goodness for sweaters.

When parents trade off entertaining the children in the lobby of the casino, some people understand, but other people think one of you has a problem.

No matter how out of shape you are, in Lake Tahoe and Virginia City it is all the fault of the thin air -- even when you go grasping for your asthma inhaler at the top of the moutain they call a hill between the parking lot and main street.

The list of restaurants on the McDonalds search page for Lake Tahoe is not quite right, and when it comes to hashbrown addictions, one of us has a real problem.

Train whistles are really, really loud when you aren't expecting them.

The "unmeltable" fudge really won't melt, but it will get awfully squishy.

There is no such thing as a spillproof sippy cup.

If given half a chance, Daddys will put sippy cups in diaper bags upside down.

My son's allergies apparently are not to east coast deciduous trees. This could be a problem.

Some people laugh at this blog. Others just read it calmly and say, "How true. How true, especially the part about the jiggling backside." Now wait a minute, what do you mean, "How true" -- did you just call me fat, or were you talking about your own backside?

In addition to all of the above, I learned, as I do every day, that my son is not as predictable as I pretend he is. Earlier this week I walked into a tourist shop filled with tacky reproductions of western somethings-or-other and the usual shotglasses and other kitch. They also had a rack of the ugliest children's sunglasses I'd ever seen -- purple, yellow, green and pink all in the same frame, blended together with the most dank looking versions of the colors you can possibly dream up. Until that moment, my little boy had never worn a pair of sunglassess willingly for more than 5.5 seconds, but he saw those precious things and fell in love. He reached over, snagged one from the rack and deftly put them over his eyes. It was then that I realized how attractive they really were, and I don't understand how I missed their charm. They put to shame the cute Mickey Mouse sunglasses we tried to convince our little guy to like in the drugstore (he put them back), and they are far, far more appealing than the snazzy and stylish royal blue Babybanz sunglasses we bought him at the eye doctor's recommendation to protect his baby blues. No, these pink, purple, green, and yellow swirly glasses that look like a bad acid trip left to rot in the Sierra Nevada hills are in fact the most beautiful sunglasses I have ever seen. It is a good thing, too, because he won't take them off. It is an even better thing that I had the cash to pay for them, too, because 2 years is awfully young to have your first shoplifting rap.

PS -- it was raining when I got home.


Casino Math

Math can be a funny thing in any circumstance. (No, really.)

Take money, for example. Banks can actually create money that didn't exist by loaning more money than they have. (For those who pride themselves on accuracy, this is not illegal -- its part of the reserve requirements imposed by the federal government and is perfectly legal.) At the end of the day, when all loans are paid back, the bank has actually created money. Its pretty amazing.

I've figured out that casinos do the same thing. No, really. Take this example:

I went into a casino that gave me $5 of free "electronic credit" for its slot machines. The trick is that all $5 has to be spent in the machines. If I win it back, I can keep it. I go to a machine and play. I win some, and I lose some, but in general I win more than I lose. I start out with $5 of fake money and I end up taking home $7 of real money in my pocket. So I'm feeling pretty good. I haven't spent any money of my own, and I'm in the black to the tune of $7.

With me so far?

OK, here is the catch. When you read the "points" that I've accumulated on my trusty little casino card, you find out that the casino thinks I've lost about $20.

The same thing happened at a different casino. I put $5 in a machine, and at the end of my stay, I take out $15. I think I made $10, but the casino's points total tells me I spent $75.

Are you confused yet? Because I am. I go in each time and come out with more money than I ever put in. I think I've earned $10 that I never had before, and the casinos have me on their books as a loser of $75. Huh? At no point did I ever even have $75, and if I cashed out every single time I won, it wouldn't have ended up with $75. From my point of view, they gave me $5, I gave it back, they gave it back to me, and I gave it back again, and then they gave me a little bit more.

I guess I must not understand something fundamental, because I think I've won, and the casino thinks IT won. Obviously, we can't both be right. There must be something deeply mysterious about casino math, or the casino would be out of business, right? I mean, casinos aren't in the habit of sending people out winners.

Have you ever looked at the statistics on what kind of money people lose in casinos in the Vegas tour books? Its some appalling number like a thousand dollars a visit. Well, if the casinos all use the same kind of math, I can see how everyone helps that statistic. I mean, if I win money and go on the books as losing $75, then how much money did Darling Husband lose the day he hit the big jackpot and won $275? I mean, we probably lost $1000 that day alone, right?

You have to admit, one of the coolest things about playing the slots is when you hit a big jackpot and the little counter on the machine keeps sounding, "ding, ding, ding, ding, ding." Your breath catches in your throat, the excitement level rises with each "ding" while you look to figure out how much it will be and when the lovely sounds will stop. WOW! I just one 200 credits! YIPEE!

Then reality sets in and you realize that you are playing the penny slots, and that 200 credits represents a mere $2.00. It won't even pay for a decent latte in a coffee joint.

Ah, well, it's all in good fun. The adrenaline kicks in, and we have a good time. The bonus is I come out thinking I have more money than when I went in. I think I'm a winner. Don't spoil my illusion.


No seriously ... why again?

>> Monday, June 8, 2009

The time has come to add some more imponderables for your consideration. These are the things that make me say, "Why? No, seriously, why?"

1. Welcome stations. What is the purpose of putting a welcome station 20 or more miles inside a state line? Why would they not want to welcome you as soon as you arrive? Are they afraid you will walk off with all their brochures and not really stay in the state? Is the 20 miles to make sure you are really serious?

2. Hashbrowns. Why, no matter how much fat and grease you are willing to use, is there no way to make hashbrowns that taste as good as McDonalds? This is especially unfair when this is the only table food you are certain your toddler will eat consistently and McDonalds stop selling them at 10 AM.

3. Noise. How is it that the toddler who can sleep through anything and can shriek loud enough to wake the neighbors in the next hotel complex is afraid of a train whistle?

4. Noise, part 2. Is it true that the loudest thing on the planet is two toddlers giggling at each other? Is it true that the second loudest thing on (or near) the planet is an airplane full of high school students?

5. This isn't a why bullet, but it is funny. Scene: A man and a young man sit in a booth at a pizza joint. Man says to young man, "I thought you wouldn't eat old pizza. What happened?" Young man responds, "I'm in college now."

6. Weather. Why is the temperature always better wherever it is I just came from? In my home town the weather is 83. Here it is 64.

7. Energy. Why is it that the young children always have so much more energy than their parents?

No, seriously, why?

8. Drinking. Why is it that the child who refused to drink anything all day dives for the wine glass as soon as the adult sets it (full) on the table?

Pardon me, but I need to go get a paper towel now.


Everywhere I Go it Rains

As I type this blog, I have to warn you that not only is rain falling outside, but hail is piling on the roadway. I wish I were kidding.

I left Virginia last week soaking wet, after three weeks of rain. We are breeding mosquitos in our backyard pond, and the neighbor children came over to launch their toy boats. One of them even brought a bottle with a message to see how long it takes to reach the ponies on Assateague Island.

We boarded a plane and flew across the country to Denver, where we landed in the rain. We boarded another plane to keep going to Reno, where we woke up to rain. We drove to Lake Tahoe (in the rain) to spend a full day in the rain before getting a reprieve, only to end said reprieve with a major hail storm.

Ironically, I don't own a working umbrella, or waterproof eye makeup, but I guess I will have to invest in some. There is no rhyme or reason ... just rain.

What puzzles me about rain, though, is why no matter how much rain we have, there is always some talking head explaining how it isn't enough to solve our drought. Our water table is overflowing into my sump pump, but we are always in a drought. Once, many years ago, it rained for the first time in several weeks and we were on water rations. It rained and rained and rained, but the weather man actually said none of the several inches of rain, "counted" because the soil was too dry and all the water just ran off without soaking in. Our drought remined unchanged.

The way I figure things, a long, long time ago a drought started, and we never got out of it because ever since it has rained too little or too much and there is no way out now. But hey, what do I know, right? I just walk along under the clouds remembering the sun as a distant but happy memory. I'm sure the weatherman is right, and the crops need it. If not, then we'll have a bumper crop of desert wines when the grapes rot on the vine this summer. Tasty. Hey ... maybe those are the crops the weatherman means.


Airplanes and Timetables

I think when it comes to airplanes and their timetables, I am in the running for the worst luck on the planet. If I had a mere nickle for every time my plane was delayed by hours, cancelled after hours on the runway, or shut down along with the whole city, I could go to dinner.

But, this is not a big deal to me. Truly, it isn't. I think it is far bigger a deal to all the family members who had to pick me up over the years, never knowing when, or if, my plane would land. (Ok, the one time my flight was cancelled and I was trying to get back to school for finals was a problem. We ended up landing in a different airport, in a different state.... the things I do for final exams.)

Changing planes, though ... that is a different story. My luck with having to at least jog, if not run full speed, through any number of airports has made me vow again and again to always fly nonstop. My plus size posterier does not look good jiggling through the airports at top speed, and one of these days Darling Husband will have a heart attack trying to get to the gate on time. Never again, I have said over and over, especially now that I have a toddler.

Sadly, some places you cannot get to from here without changing planes somewhere. (Who was it who said that on the way to heaven you have to change planes in Chicago?) So, to the best of my ability, I am limiting the airports I will agree to layover and change planes. St. Louis ... ok. Chicago ... never again. Dallas, not on your life. Pittsburgh ... if I must. Boston ... do you still have to go outside to switch terminals?

Reno, Nevada is one of those places you can't get to from here without changing planes someplace. (Well, Donald Trump could, but not me.) So, on my way to Reno last week, Darling Husband, the almost-two-year-old and I boarded a plane late at night, knowing we had the dreaded plane change in Denver with two carry-on bags, a carseat, and an exhausted child who will think it is 11 PM. We shake hands and say, "What will be will be." We have the hotel number to call if we don't make our connection. We already know the rental car will honor our reservation a day late. We have an hour between planes, and our scheduled gates are only 4 apart when we land. And yet ... we know. Something will go on. Something will happen to make us miss the plane, but not before we run from one end of the airport to the other.

Oddly enough, we took off on time. Even more strange, we land on time, even in the rain. (Every where I go, it rains. I think these problems may be connected.) As the plane is making its way to the terminal, I was getting hopeful, but I made a mistake. I actually thought to myself, "Hey, maybe we will make it this time!" Why, oh why do I tempt fate like this?

A few seconds after I had this clearly articulated thought, the plane rolls to a stop. I can SEE the terminal from the window. Then the pilot comes on the speaker and says, "This is as far as we can go for the time being, ladies and gentlemen. The airport has called all the crews inside for safety because of the lightning, so we will be waiting here for some time." DOH! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Then the flight attendant comes on and says that our gate will probably be changing, as will the gates of all connecting flights. Sigh. Of course they will.

Sure enough, by the time we got into the airport, our connecting flight was listed as, "Now Boarding." We didn't even have time to strap the carseat to the luggage cart, so it was the two of us, one carseat, one toddler in a stroller, one folded up luggage cart (and did I mention one giant carseat?) panting through the airport with our love handles wiggling all the way. We made it, but you know things are bad when the airline personnel greet you by name as you approach the gate. This is how it will always be, I'm afraid. Don't change planes with me. In fact, don't fly with me. It is a curse.


Do you "Routine"?

>> Friday, June 5, 2009

I started out my morning this morning with a very satisfying, "click" of the diaper wipe box in my son's bedroom. This time, in honor of all 9 of you, I said, "click" when I pushed it. The diaper wipe box is right next to the baby monitor input. Downstairs, I hear my darling husband talking with my son, saying, "Uh oh, I think Daddy forgot to close the diaper wipe box again."

This remark got me thinking. "Forgot to close the diaper wipe box." That's what he said. I find this very peculiar. He says, "forgot" like this is a task on a list of things to do that didn't get done. To me, this sounds like he said, "I forgot to clean up the hot water I just spilled on the table this morning that is rapidly leaving a white mark in the wood and is still burning my hand." This isn't like, "I forgot to bring the document to work, and I left it on the shelf."

So, I pondered this, and here is my theory. Some people are very fixated on their routines, especially in the morning. They have built their routines from an early age, based on what their parents taught them when they were very young. (E.g., brush your teeth and go to bed. I still can't go to bed without brushing my teeth first.) Of course, we all have routines, but some of us are more "programmed" than others. They follow the checklist -- no freelancing, no deviations. This means there are no eyes roaming the room noting (and fixing) the things that are wrong or out of place. To the extent the pre-caffinated (or pre-lunch, pre-snack, pre-sleep -- you name it) brain is even functioning beyond autopilot, it is already thinking about the next step on the list. I'm guessing darling husband is one of those stuck in a routine. (Okay, I know he is, but I didn't realize how extreme.) With all the computer references he makes himself, I'm beginning to wonder ... where do I find the source code to the diaper changing routine so I can add, "close diaper wipe box" to the functions. I've tried appealing to the penny-pinching logic "Close the box or the wipes will dry out and we will need to fork out even more money." I've tried appealing to the I'm-stuck-with-poop logic, "Close the box or the wipes will dry out and you won't have anything whatsoever to wipe the baby's bottom next time." Both, he admits, are sensible, but still he forgets. I need to get into the programming and change it directly, I think.

I don't know how people get this way, but some do. I guess some people find a lot of comfort in the routine. Me? Routine bores me. I remember walking into work each morning and stopping for a cup of coffee in the machine. We had a one cup machine that took maybe 2 minutes from start to finish to brew me my own special cup of coffee. I found this a dreadfully long time to stand around each morning, simply following my routine. I did everything I could to speed up the process -- including pouring the sugar and cream into the coffee while it was brewing. (Not before, because that doesn't save any time.) Nuts, I know, but imagine how bad it was when I actully walked to Starbucks for the brew. I had to put an end to that because that routine took a whole 15 minutes out of my chance to start my day.

On my most excitable days, I am very "anti" routine. This has a lot of plusses. Its fun; I see a lot of things in my day; I try a lot of stuff. There are minuses, though. I need to make myself lists and lists to make sure I remember the things I must do. I also get so excited about new things going on around me that sometimes I forget what I was doing. It is a bad day around here when I catch myself saying, "Oh, did I put breakfast potatoes in the oven awhile ago?"

I have fun, though. I think I drive darling husband nuts, because my list of things to do never gets smaller, it just gets more detailed. On one hand, is routine better, if it doesn't get the job done because the routine is wrong? I may seem scatterbrained, but I wield the weapons of order and organization in this house. I see the forces of chaos at work and I beat them back daily. It may not be sequential, but it does get accomplished, and if I relied on routine, I wouldn't have stopped my hairdrying this morning to come and write you this update.



My Battle Against the Forces of Entropy and Chaos

>> Monday, June 1, 2009

I took a few days in thinking about this next entry because I was having a hard time coming up with a single story I wanted to tell. So many times I just want to hang my head and either laugh or cry ... . Of those I can actually discuss, none of them were long enough to make it worth my time (or yours).

So finally I decided to tell you a little bit about my generic battle with the forces of Entropy and Chaos.

Now, I'm not talking about the routine stuff, like laundry, dishes, and the general toy "explosion" that usually occurs 30 seconds after a toddler gets out of bed or down from his high chair. I'm talking about the oddball stuff that is my house and life.

For starters, I get out in the morning, blissfully aware of how fortunate I am that darling husband takes the baby down for breakfast. I go into the baby's room, pick up the clothes from the floor, and close the diaper wipe box. Then I find clothes for the baby. Most of the time I don't think too much about it, but every once in awhile I just have to wonder. Every morning and every evening I shut that diaper wipe box. Why? No, not why do I do it -- why doesn't everyone? It isn't hard to close. In fact, it is very simple to close. You just put a little pressure on the lid, and it slides gently into place, clicking quietly to let you know it latched.

Yes, changing a diaper can be a challenge. I don't think I need to talk all that much about the hand to hand combat that can come from changing the diaper of a toddler that doesn't WANT his diaper changed. Either you've done it, and I don't need to explain the bruises I have on my upper body, or you still have the pleasure awaiting you and I don't want to spoil it. But still, no matter how vigorous the diaper change was, what is so hard about closing one small lid before you leave the room?

I finally decided that I cannot figure out why the diaper wipe bin has to stay open until I come in to close it. Instead, I've started treating it as my opening salvo each morning in my one-woman crusade against the forces of Entropy and Chaos. This task is simply one step in our enduring struggle, which includes some long standing conflicts such as:

- Why does the crap simply move from room to room, never leaving the house, never getting thrown out, and never finding an "away?"

- The threat, "if you don't put this somewhere, the baby will soon take it as a toy," has tripled the little boy's toy supply.

- Other people have begun storing things in my garage, and I can honestly say I didn't realize how much.

- The forces of Entropy have brainwashed members of my family to pick up their clothes, towels, and other things from the bathroom and take them to the laundry. The washcloths, however, stay in a wet heap in the bathtub.

Sometimes I make progress. Some days -- weeks even -- I make headway and beat back the Chaos with the weapons of order and organization. I pay dearly for these victories. This past Memorial Day I tackled the garage, and I made great progress. After setting aside 4 bins worth of trash to throw out, I had cleared a space big enough for almost 2/3 of my car. I filled the trash bin and set it out to the curb. The trash man dutifully came and hauled the contents away. Over the next day or so, I went to the large stack of trash I'd gathered from my cleaning efforts and stuffed the bin full again. The hardest part, to my surprise, was this large bag of trash I'd carefully set against the house. There was a box in the bottom of the bag to hold the bag upright, and I'd filled it with large, but lightweight, things. I pulled, tugged, and tried to lift the bag into the trash bin (because the trashman won't take things that aren't in the bin). Nothing. This is strange. I put the bag against the house, and now when I want to pull it away, it's too heavy to budge? Something is really odd here. I try again, and again, and even again. When logic fails, I sometimes resort to dogged persistance. Sadly, this, too, fails me.

Finally, after many minutes of struggling, I get my first clue. Something sloshed. Then I looked at the ground. It is wet ... all over. The grass is wet, the car is wet. I brilliantly recall that rain fell from the sky for many hours over the prior two day. I look up at the house. The bag is resting under a gutter that is clogged and overflowing. Oh, crap, the bag is full of water! So not only is it full of disgusting garage trash, it is full of WET disgusting garage trash.

This is so much more then I bargained for when I ran outside wearing socks to put the trash in the bin while the two year old took a drink in the high chair. (He can't hurt any electronics in the high chair unless someone is silly enough to hand one to him.) Now what? Go back inside? Hell no! That would be giving up!

So, I very carefully try to tip the bag. How do you tip a trash bag? Good question. Then I grabbed the bag at the bottom and lifted until water came gushing out. Four tries of this and the bag was finally light enough to lift into the bin. I don't even want to know what happened to the rest of the water or the trash guys that came to take it away.

This was just Entropy's revenge on me for attempting to restore order to the garage. I have managed not to regress on the garage, but so far we've made no further progress. I have noticed, however, that boxes are multiplying in the basement. Entropy will find equilibrium, I suppose.


  © Free Blogger Templates Skyblue by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP