Monday, November 30, 2009

November goes out with a whimper?

I don't know . . . Maybe it went out with a bang? I know I feel like I've been banged over the head repeatedly the last few days.

Lynda's parents visited over the Thanksgiving weekend--but that's not the source of my stress. Though the Thompsons weren't feeling great themselves, so it wasn't a Rockwell thanksgiving or anything. But everyone had time to rest, a bed to sleep in, and no one lacked for turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pumpkin pies, cookies, cake, and other food. So, in that sense, it was the perfect American Thanksgiving.

Rather, my troubles--and more importantly--Lynda's troubles began on Saturday. Lynda's has been laid up in bed since then. No one has said so aloud, but given that she had a regular flu vaccine, I can guess that she has been suffering from H1N1. (But I'm no doctor and she hasn't been to one.) All I know for sure is a.) She's been immobile for days, b.) she's had high fevers, c.) she's been achy, and d.) I blame anything to do with Black Friday.

You see, she was okay until she went shopping that day. And since I blame whatever I can on this terrible idea for a shopping experience, I'm gonna say it got Lynda (and her Mom apparently) sick.

So, since Saturday I've been taking care of the rest of the family. And when Hannah started getting fevers on Sunday . . . well, I knew I'd be taking Monday off as well. Asxtiring and as stressful as it has been, the girls have been understanding. When I served up a pot roast last night--because it could cook all day without my help--they ate bits of it with good grace and understanding, even if it's not their favorite. And they helped me decorate the interior for Christmas on Sunday as well. We maintained our own odd holiday tradition by listening to Jingle Spells and Jingle Spells 2 while we worked. (If you don't know what these albums are, you should look them up. It's quirky and distinctive, but all family traditions begin from somewhere interesting.)

Now I'm in the library lobby tapping this out on my phone while I wait for Grace's Daisy Scout meeting to finish. Lynda is able to be up a bit more, so I left her alone while Hannah slept. But Lynda won't be at work tomorrow either and since Hannah is going to get worse before getting better, I may be out again tomorrow as well.

Just because the calendar says a new month means nothing to the body after all.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fast Food: Maybe You're Dead to Me Now

I am sure that my many sophisticated readers will have already reached this conclusion and so nothing that I will present here tonight will be revelatory in any way . . . but, I think I'm finally done with fast food.

At least I'm done with the ordinary, historic burger joints: McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys.

I took the kids to BK tonight and it just wasn't a satisfying food experience. Sure, keeping up with the kids and battling the fact that Hannah first poured milk on her jacket and then dumped a lot of the rest on the table didn't help things. Add to that the realization that Grace was more interested in playing on the playground than in eating her food.

Well, I should have chosen my usual Burger King option--the oblong chicken sandwich, which is usually good. Instead, I went with one of the new "speciality" burgers, some sort of Steakhouse thing. It had some fried onion things that were nicely crunchy and a sauce that had some bleu cheese flavoring. But the burger patty was large, squarish, and burned on the edges. It was served on a bakery roll. The fries were nicely crunchy. (I've been a fan of the BK fry recipe for several years.) But they were very salty and I am still tasting the salt in my mouth four-and-a-half hours later.

It was just an unappetizing experience. And as I reflected on it later in the night I found that I just haven't enjoyed my fast food experiences the last several times I have gone. Now I am not saying that I would never eat in a place that isn't a sit down place, but there are so many quick specialty restaurants now that serve food with more pizazz than burgers and fries . . . I can just do better. Why not get noodles at Noodles & Co. or Pei Wei? Panera has lots of satisfying choices and even Chipotle is pretty good.

So . . . see you later fast food burgers. I won't be eating at your place very much any more.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hannah and the Roar Socks

My kids have a strange history with their hosiery.

When Sarah was a child, she always chose two socks of different colors and intentionally wore them that way.

Grace must have the most sensitive feet in the world, because she often complained that the seam at the toe of the sock was irritating her.

And now Hannah insists on wearing socks on her hands (like opera gloves!) to make puppet-like movements and "roar"ing sounds.

The "roar" bit is a leftover legacy from when Grace was a baby. We have a book about a kid who writes to the zoo and asks for a pet. The zoo sends a series of animals (snake, monkey, camel, giraffe, etc.) who fail to be good pets. On one page, a lion is the zoo's latest attempt to placate the pushy kid . . . and whenever we read that page to Grace we'd mimic the lion's roar, but with a soft kind of "rahr." She eventually got it and started mimicking the sound in an equally soft voice (very un-lionish). We thought it was so cute, we did it again with Hannah.

She also does the roar, but somehow, she's tied this to sock puppets? I don't get it either. But it's cute and it makes for a fun video. (Sorry about the light quality on the video. It was this morning and I didn't bother to turn on the room lights.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unusual thoughts while stealing candy

I'll admit that the title, while true to what I might end up writing down here, is an echo . . . well, no it's a pretty blatant ripoff of what David Sedaris might use as an essay title. Or maybe it's something that Chuck Klosterman might use. But I've been listening to an audiobook of Sedaris at work the last few days and reading Klosterman's newest book at night. So, at least my stealing is honest . . . and timely.

Okay, enough name dropping.

A few minutes ago I was pilfering in the girls Halloween candy bags--which still remain more than half full as we are receding into the third (fourth?) week after Halloween night. I often make a habit of stealing their Halloween candy when they are upstairs, in bed, and otherwise unaware of my thieving. I've done it for years and I'm not particularly guilt-racked about it. I have better dental hygiene habits than they do and so I am better equipped to eat candy than they are.

Anyway, as I choose a few small Fun Size bars from Grace's bag, I think about how I eat in relationship to the Fun Size. I'm afraid to admit that I most often pop the whole candy bar in my mouth and start chewing. I don't think the Fun Size is demanding multiple bites and I've got a big mouth. Of course, doing this makes me savor the flavor of the candy less and that isn't a good thing. Not stopping to savor ensures overeating, which leads to becoming overweight. And I think popping the whole morsel in your mouth and divorcing your experience of the candy's flavor reduces its ability to make the eating Fun. It becomes something more like an addiction. Of course, doing it somewhat hurriedly (in case the kids came downstairs and saw me, wondering why I was pilfering their candy) doesn't help either.

Yeah, I've got a problem with that.

And also, when you open up the Fun Size Butterfinger bar, the getting older peanut butter flakes in the center become more brittle and the bar shatters and gets on the floor, forcing you to get the broom out to sweep up your secret shame.

And then there is the Oh Henry bar. As I chew the Oh Henry, I think about the oddity of its name--how it is partly a homage to the American writer who used a variation on the name. And I wonder . . . how many candy bars out there have any sort of (even tenuous) connection to literary figures? In my lifetime, I can remember eating the Reggie bar, for Reggie Jackson when he was a celebrated New York Yankee. And I've definitely eaten my share of Baby Ruths. But those are sports figures and celebrating sports figures in candy is common. Do most Oh Henry consumers even know of this connection to a writer?

Another thought about the Oh Henry. It's made up of peanuts, caramel, and chocolate. Yet it has its own distinct taste--at least I think it does when I pause to taste it as I scarf them down. It must be a particular mixture of the peanut butter or some balance of stuff in the chocolate. But we have so many candy bars in this country. It must be hard for the flavor scientists to make everyone's chocolate taste different.


Well, that's it for tonight. I wanted to write something and so I have. It wasn't what I intended to write when I thought about this earlier in the day, but that will have to be done tomorrow or over the weekend when I can devote some time to writing it thoughtfully and well. It's too important to dash off in ten minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

LOST in review

As we begin thinking about the approach of LOST's final season, try to see the connections from the past.

But why do it all yourself when others can do it for you?

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ABCs Updated

A is for Apple, but not that kind . . . this kind.

B is for blog.

C is for corporation.

D is for DVR.

E is for easy. It's what we all want.

F is for Facebook.

G is for Google.

H is for hybrids, the kind that you drive.

I is for interstate. Because we won't be flying hybrids Jetsons-style anytime soon.

J is for Jayne.

K is for Klosterman. Read him . . . you'll see.

L is for LOST, the best show on TV.

M is for Mad Men . . . also quite good, don't you agree?

N is for namaste.

O is for obsolete. (Read C to wonder why?)

P is for podcast, but Pixar's also fine.

Q is for quarrels. Something that happens too much.

R is for RSS. It's for reading and such.

S is for sweater vest. Because that's where it's at!

T is for Twitter. I'm already down with that.

U is for unique. It's what we all want to be.

V is for vampires. 'Cause they're so hot right now.

W is for Wright. Because some things never stop being hot.

X is for Xtreme? My favorite . . . it's not.

Y is for YouTube because it's okay to watch.


Z is for zeitgeist. (Because that's what this shows? Or maybe not . . . who knows?)

Star Trek is coming true . . . thanks to our corporate overlords?

I quote this text directly from Gizmodo:

"Leave it to a NASA scientist to create the first Star Trek Tricorder using a stamp-sized sensor chip, an iPhone, and some spiffy programing. What does it do? It can detect killer gasses in the air.

While the concept is not new, this prototype is fully working and operational. Created by Jing Li and a team of researches at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, the sensor is a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip integrated in micro-board with 64 nanosensors.

The low-cost, low-power system can detect minimal concentrations of ammonia, chlorine gas, and methane, showing the values in an iPhone application. It can automatically communicate the results with other cellphones or the Enterprise's computer using Wi-Fi or 3G, and order massive teleportation evacuations if needed. OK, not true. No teleportation yet, but we are getting there. [NASA]"

Monday, November 09, 2009

My latest update on The Hobbit

I've been collecting information on the planning/writing/development of the del Toro Hobbit movie. And it's high time I put it out there for my distinct subset of readers who are Tolkien/Peter Jackson/cinema fans.

Here you go, from oldest to newest:

1. There wasn't much news for this past summer's Comic Con in San Diego. There was no announcement given on which actor has in the running for the part of Bilbo. What was news at the time was the looming spectre of yet another Tolkien family lawsuit.

2. Then in September, it was announced that the Tolkien family had settled their lawsuit.

3. This link isn't strictly about del Toro's work on The Hobbit, but it is related to The Lord of the Rings.

4. And then today, we still don't find out who will play Bilbo, but we do learn that del Toro will have some sort of mystery role as a background character. My money is on one of the goblins that capture Bilbo and Thorin's company while they travel through to the Lonely Mountain.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Living in a world of choices

We live in a country of overwhelming choices. I'm sure that you are not surprised by this fact. Anyone who walks into a grocery store could spend ten minutes trying to decide which cereal to buy. Even a trip to the magazine aisle in one small corner of that same grocery store could take up an astonishing amount of your time--and that is only if you wanted to pick between the many, many magazines on wedding dresses or body building.

Normally, we are glad of all of these choices. Or at least we don't think about them all that often because we have spent time learning which of the options we like and which ones we don't. Or maybe our childhood experiences led us to believe that Jif peanut butter was far superior to Skippy, so why bother dithering over one or the other. In the same way, we know that we like Kellogg's cereal and so we walk past all the stuff from General Mills--unless we happen to have a coupon or something.

But what if we actively choose to limit ourselves in ways outside the ordinary? What if we take our normal preferences and narrow the focus even farther? Suddenly, we become aware of the vast number of riches around us. Suddenly we realize how much we take for granted and maybe . . . just maybe we think about the amazing hardships that some experience every day, in ways that we don't fully appreciate.

You might know that I have been involved in a Soup for a Year challenge--something that I have concocted with friends from work. You can read about it over on the Soup for a Year blog that we are collaborating on. I noted on the initial post of this challenge that in the beginning I didn't think it would be that difficult to eat nothing but soup every day, for every meal. But, of course, once I limited myself to only soup, I realized the number of foods in my own home that I could not consider anymore. I am glad that I am not eating as much dessert and junky snacks as I usually did. But I find it hard to reject apples and toast and even a simple bowl of cereal or oatmeal.

But, if I can make this event into a small force for charitable donations for those people who don't get the opportunity to reject choices as I so often do, those people who would love to have the luxury of dithering over different types of cereal and ice cream at the grocery store . . . then that would make me feel good.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Didn't strike while the thought was hot

While driving down to Hilliard for the weekly Bible study group, I thought of lots of interesting words, phrases, story & observational tangents that might make for an interesting post.

But since I was driving, I had no opportunity to make any of it a reality.

Now I'm home again, but I'm tired and don't want to take the mental energy to see if I could recall any of it and type it into this post screen. Of course, this may very well guarantee that I will never be able to make those ideas see the light of day. If I can't expend the energy to recall them only three hours after they occurred to me, what are the chances that I'll be able to do a better job a day from now?

But I don't care.


In other news, I am involving myself in the insane Soup for a Year Challenge. It's got a blog and everything. Today marks the end of day 3! Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the effort and my friends who are involved. And if you here in the WWYG?! side of my digital life have any ideas about how to make it better and make it more meaningful, please make your thoughts known to me.


Monday, November 02, 2009


The moving continues at the office. I and a few holdouts remained in our "old" positions on the fourth floor while the rest of our colleagues moved down to the second floor. Meanwhile, new people with new job descriptions began to appear around me. I plugged my earbuds firmly into my ears, shoved my nose into my work, and tried to power through as best I could.

But it was hard.

I've got to try and be productive where I am while preparing for my own move (which is supposed to come over this weekend). So, starting next week I'll be reunited with my coworkers (and it'll feel so good).

Speaking of things that feel good, I left the chaos of work this afternoon to get my teeth cleaned. As I lay there, I reflected on reasons why they don't put ceiling mirrors in dental offices and to why I tend to keep my eyes closed when get a cleaning. It's just best to try and block out what is happening to you and not imagine what it must look like having someone shove their fingers into your mouth, prying back your lips like some kind of prize stallion on the auction block. Its simply very dehumanizing, even if it is necessary. So, close your eyes, relax, and let them do their job.

What a job it must be, though. I try to be conscientious to the position that they find themselves in, poking around in the mouths of strangers. I chew gum (or brush my teeth) if I can beforehand. I am conscious, if kind of powerless, to make their experience as pleasant as possible. I just hope that they can turn off the reality of the situation and treat me as a dehumanized training dummy or something. (I won't take it personally, I promise. I'll try to understand.)

After the cleaning, the hygienist tried to get me to sign up for a free whitening service that they are now offering. She claimed that it would be no expense to me, as long as I kept up my biyearly appointments. If I chose to partake, I'd get custom molds made of my teeth and they would give me two tubes of whitening gel that I must place in the molds and then wear around the house every day for an unspecified amount of time. Because I chose to decline, I never found out if the whitening gel was on your teeth for thirty minutes per day or three hours per day. Regardless, I didn't find the idea of wearing a gel-filled retainer around the house appealing. Plus, do I need it? (Well, sure. My teeth aren't Tom Cruise white. But I'm not in the appearance business.)

So, trying not to feel as if I was being given some sort of subtle hint, I declined. (Sorry ladies!) I figure all of the coffee I drink in the mornings would make it a waste of time anyway.

And, I think that is all for tonight here. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Apple less rotten this time?

I don't want to be too premature here, but I guess I am inviting slightly bad karma by being hopeful. But today I went BACK to the Apple store . . . again in the hopes that I might finally get to the bottom of my substandard laptop performance.

If you recall, this is my third trip on this issue. Trip one was to try and find out what was causing my iBook to suddenly cut off in the middle of things--whether I was plugged into the wall socket or sitting on the couch. The Apple Genius thought that the problem was maybe the main logic board. So, off shipped the laptop and I waited.

When I got it back about a week later, the problem was not resolved. So I took it back again and they again took my computer from me and I waited. When I got it back again, I saw that the main logic board had been replaced again but this time they also swapped out a component that conducted the electricity from the wall cord into the laptop itself. And since then, the computer has performed fine while plugged into the wall. But if I unplug, after about ten minutes, regardless of how much power the battery meter says, it shuts off. So, since a laptop is most useful when used as a portable . . . I went back for the third time.

I knew from my first visit that batteries have a finite life. And even though I was pretty certain that the battery was now the sole problem, I didn't want to pay for a new one. (Given that I've paid $300 for the initial repair, as well as gas and time for every visit.) And Lynda backed me up. Though she knew that my ability to be firm and angry about things was not my strong suit. I suggested that maybe she go in my place and put her own foot down--but she didn't.

I took Grace with me--half joking that if things got bad and if the Apple people didn't want to give me my free battery, I'd get her to start crying on cue and try to chip away at their cold, corporate, silicon hearts.

Turns out I didn't have to be a bad@ss and Grace didn't have to cry. They told me that my battery was old and they offered to replace it for me. And they said that they would do it for free. So, here's hoping that third times the charm.

I'll let you know.


In other news, the Soup for a Year blog has been added to a bit over the weekend and tomorrow is the big start date. I'll try to keep you updated with how things progress by linking to the Soup blog from Why Won't You Grow?! And I'll try to prevent that blogging from making this blog suffer.

I hope y'all had a good weekend. Mine was pretty good and I'm going to find a way to not work tonight and relax a bit before conking out for sleep.