Thursday, June 14, 2007

Water Restriction

Imagine your typical American office - one with individual offices instead of cubicles, though. People toil there daily, kissing client butt and generally getting things done. It's what they're paid for, after all.

Imagine that this office has a kitchen for the staff, with microwave, dishwasher, even a warming tray (a puzzling yet classy addition), and a refrigerator. The fridge is stocked with beverages - cans of soda, bottles of green tea, etc. The beverages are provided by the company for the hard-working employees. It's a very nice touch.

Except -

In the door of the fridge, there are bottles of water, all lined up like soldiers of healthy refreshment. In the hot summers of the South (even in air-conditioned office-ness), there is nothing quite as refreshing as a bottle of refrigerated water - except for a cold beer, but that's for after-hours. In the South, families have always kept a bottle of water in the fridge, pouring that cold water over ice cubes for maximum chill. It's so hot down here in August that to fill a glass with ice cubes and then pour cold water straight from the tap is to melt your ice cubes immediately. There has always been a bottle of water in the fridge.

My point is this. Water is crucial, right? We're 70% water, the Earth is something like 70% water, if you went more than three days without water, you'd die. It's basic.

Imagine this office again, with the fridge of water bottles. Imagine the slap-in-the-face post-it note stuck there - "FOR CLIENTS ONLY."

Imagine a place where the bottled water is off-limits to all but paying customers. I guess you'd have to bring your own water from home, or you could pour yourself a glass of water from the communal water pitcher (kept in the fridge, of course)... the water pitcher might have a filter upon it, but then - what about those folks who might put the lip of the pitcher directly against the lip of their well-used water bottle in order to refill? Imagine the transfer of germs and bacteria.

In these uncertain times of tubercular airline passengers and a thousand other infectious maladies - would it make sense for this fictitious office to offer its employees individual cans of sugary soda, but force them to drink your basic water from a trough, when you get right down to it?

Imagine the unruly rebels in this office who might pooh-pooh the restriction on bottled water, helping themselves to perhaps a bottle per day - it's only fair, considering the employees in question seldom partake of the proffered soda. What difference does it make - a can of soda or a bottle of water? Isn't this an imaginary free country?

And now imagine the final insult - one morning, an unruly rebel walks into the kitchen, opens the fridge, and finds that all the bottled water is gone, along with the "FOR CLIENTS ONLY" note. The illicit water is now surely locked away in a closet that cannot be accessed by mere mortals.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

300th post!

It's potty-training time around our house. Bethany's pretty much got it figured out. With a disciplined regimen of bribery (an M&M for every successful visit to the potty, which my mom says worked like a charm for me - and still does), she's mastered the basics.

But pooping is still cause for mild panic. When she realizes a poop is imminent, she gets an alarmed facial expression. "Mommy! Pick me up!" So we high-tail it to the bathroom, slap her small toilet seat onto the regular bowl and get her settled.

And we wait. The panic intensifies as the turtle head begins to peep in earnest. To distract her from the mechanics of the job, while also keeping Bethany on the toilet, I have begun to sing a song to her. As a parent, I've often been forced to create magic on the spot, and I have surprised myself with my ingenuity.

Everyone knows the song "Are You Sleeping, Brother John?" Well, try this on for size:

Where's the poopy, where's the poopy?

Here it comes! Here it comes!

Now it's in the toilet, now it's in the toilet.

Flush away, flush away.

Yes, thank you very much, I'll be here all week. She loves that song, and we sing it three, sometimes four songs, before the job is done. Poor Kyle - he's even had to learn the song because toddlers insist on consistency in everything. No matter who takes her to the potty, the song must be sung.

Now if you'll excuse me, I just smelled Bethany walk by, and that can't be good.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


An email exchange between me and Tomie a year or so ago:

Me: I HATE hearing a cat yarking his fucking intestines out, from the sound of it, but being unable to locate the results. You KNOW they're there, all but invisible. You look around, trying different angles with your eyes, hoping the light will help you by reflecting a certain glisten off a spot on the carpet somewhere... but nothing. But it's THERE, dammit.

Tomie: ...And though I'm sure you'll find the cat-yuck sooner or later, don't kill yourself over it. The smell will lead you right to it eventually, if the other one doesn't eat it first. EWWWW! Grossing myself out over here...

Good morning and welcome back. The preceding nuggets were background for this:

Last night, I could hear my cat - we have only one now - yarking her fucking intestines out, from the sound of it. I was pretty sure the sound was coming from the kitchen, and was appreciative of the fact that she chose to do it on a wipeable surface. I can't tell you how many times I have caught her decanting a hairball onto the carpet of the living room while her enormous ass was parked on the cool linoleum of the kitchen floor. Just making a point to barf right over that dividing line between rooms.

Anyway. I made a mental note to look for that cat barf first thing in the morning when I got up. As it happened, Kyle got up first and I remembered to tell him, "I think there's a hairball somewhere in the kitchen, so tread with caution."

I listened as he made his coffee, but heard neither a disgusted sigh and rumpling of paper towels, nor an unmasculine shriek of dismay as his foot skidded into the pool of sick. Hmm, I thought. Well, sometimes those hairballs sound worse than they actually are - maybe she just had the dry heaves.

I got up a short time later and came over to the computer, intending to check my email. And that's when it happened. A decidedly unmasculine shriek of dismay as my toes found the pool of sick on the carpet under my "workstation" (read: the end of the dining room table) - this was no ordinary hairball. Chilly after hours outside the cat's body and oh-so-copious, it certainly woke me in a way coffee never has.

And that, my friends, prompted me to sit down and tell you all about it. So you can thank poor old Jezebel for my return to blogging.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

See that? That's called a half-moon. Yeah, I know it's got a more formal name like "Being in the Waning Gibbous Phase," or whatever. But the point is, that's what was above my head as I distributed 48 filled plastic Easter eggs in the backyard. This moon helped me confirm that there were no snakes as I wandered otherwise blindly through the grass. It's entirely too cold for the snakes to leave their cozy nests - as I tossed those eggs out, each one hit the frozen ground with a loud POP. Aside from the eerie sound of some owl hooting in a nearby yard, that was it. POP... POP... POP... HooooooooOOOOOOoooo... POP ... POP...

I just went back and read my post about last Easter (here), and the experience has been remarkably similar. No Anakin pogs this year, though. Just candy. (A buttload of Peeps, to be precise - they squash right into plastic eggs.)

And though I woke up early this year in order to be the Easter bunny, I once again fell into not-quite-nightmares about being busted by the kids as I stood out in the yard. It wouldn't be a nightmare if they did bust me, it was just that there were Nazguls in the dream, and also flan. (shuddering... FLAAAAHN.)
So here I am, flan-free and waiting for the coffee to finish percolating. After being out in such cold weather, even if only for a few moments, there's no way to get back to bed now. I'm UP, man. The weather site says it's 25 degrees right now, and that it feels like it's 25 degrees. And I'll take their word for it - anything lower than 40 and I can't discern.

Sean asked me yesterday if I thought he was stupid for still believing in the Easter bunny. This was a very interesting question for him to ask, because just a couple of weeks ago, he and his best friend were sitting in the kitchen talking about Easter. His friend told him, "Well the Easter bunny is sitting right there in the living room," and Sean laughed and said, "I know."

But did he? He's pretty good about covering his ignorance with a casual "I know." Now he's going to be nine in a few weeks, but I'm pretty sure that even if he doesn't have full confidence in the existence of such enigmatic figures as the Easter bunny, Santa Claus and the Soul Cake Duck, he's still willing to hedge his bets for the pay-off.

So I told him that of course I didn't think he was stupid for believing in the Easter bunny, and he seemed slightly relieved. Hey, I personally believed in Santa Claus until I was eleven. It's not that my parents were that good at it, either. I just didn't take my head out of the clouds before then, even having heard the dark, whispered rumors at school...

Ah well. So tell me - what are your favorite (or worst) memories of your own Santa / Easter bunny / Tooth Fairy / whatever? And how did you learn the truth?

Friday, June 30, 2006

A Week Ago Today

A week ago today, I was in Charleston. Kyle and I foolishly assumed that leaving town - and leaving our children behind in said town - would result in a long-overdue sleep-in the next morning. But at 7:00am sharp, my cell phone rang. It was Sean, chirpy as could be, calling to tell me that he had just leveled up his starting Pokemon (named Alex) to the point where it evolved to its highest form: a Charizard. Pretty big news, but it didn't really qualify as 7:00am-type news. I congratulated him, asked after his sister, and told him to call me later. "But not immediately-later, more like later-later, okay?" (You have to be specific.)

So, later-later, Kyle and I went downstairs to the hotel breakfast nook (I can't really think of anything else to call that little lounge off to the side of the lobby) and partook of their not-free buffet. And then went off to town to see what we could see.

The first stop for me was to find some sunglasses, as I had foolishly neglected to pack any. I thought, Hey I'm on vacation, I'll just get some of those gigantic Nicole Richie sunglasses that are the size of dinner plates.

Image courtesy of the highly recommended Gallery of the Absurd.

But it was not to be. Those things are only sold at Target (in the price range I could afford) and there was not a Target to be found. As I mentioned, this is not a bad thing in the historic city of Charleston, but in the sprawling and rapidly developing suburbs just north of the city, I expected to find a damn Target!!! Instead, I settled for the grossly overpriced CVS. I got a pair of biggish but not really stylish sunglasses which, as I discovered upon walking outside, had some cheap Taiwanese plastic lenses that were really fucking with my vision - almost as though they had the faintest of prescription to them, making everything look a hair blurry and giving me an instant headache.

So I went back inside to return them and get my money back. Kyle opted to wait outside in the car. And he waited and he waited and he waited...

When I finally got back in the car, triumphantly clutching my refund, he said, "So, what's Tuesday's blog going to be about?" Ha! Try Friday, Mr. Know-it-All. ;-)

As you know, buyer's remorse is never really about an internal sense of doubt that the correct decision has been made. It's more about having to stand there in the one open line, waiting to get your money back, tapping your foot as the cashier lethargically runs your credit card through the reader 16 or 17 times without success before finally calling the manager - who takes his sweet, handicapped time peg-legging over to the register and also trying your card 16 or 17 times before reaching into his shirt pocket for a fresh plug of tobacco, then slipping the keys out of his pocket and turning them in the register to simply force it to do his will... meanwhile you have aged about 900 years waiting for this all to take place and the customers behind you are breathing bad karma all over you...

So that's what Tuesday's blog would have been about, had I not still been recovering from the trauma.

But then we went on to the beach and a grand time was had simply sitting there in the sun, reading, sipping surreptitiously at a beer (just like everyone else, despite the postings that no alcohol was allowed on the beach), and just generally not being at work - and really, what more could anyone ask for, being on vacation?

And here, I thought I'd end with that classic shot of two people's feet and a Corona bottle on the beach or whatever, but when I did a Google search of Corona images, I got this. Enjoy, boys!

Last year's post: Summertime Blues (on unexpectedly buying a new air conditioning unit)

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Cat Fighting

Our outdoor kitty (Sophie) snuck into the house last night. She does this on the rare occasion that a door is open for longer than ten seconds at a time. And once inside, she freely roams about, investigating every nook and cranny, without discovery. Well, not by the Oblivious Humans, anyway.

How does she manage this? Are we so blind? Is she that good?

She's a master of camouflage, as it happens. No, she doesn't have the unusual-in-a-mammal ability to change her coat at will, blending into the floral wallpaper pattern or turning some obscene-for-a-mammal shade of burgundy to match the dining room walls. She simply looks exactly like one of our indoor cats. So, to four Oblivious Humans who have better things to do than pay attention to an all-too-familiar feline shape under our feet, she is that other indoor cat.

But then the rightful indoor denizens get all bent out of shape over this impostor's presence in their territory. The elder cat, Jezebel, will stalk Sophie, sniffing her with gynecological interest, growling at her and generally menacing her with her amazing bulk. You know how cats arch their backs and spit in order to appear larger than they are? Jezebel simply is larger.

Anyway, last night it happened again. Kyle and I were in the living room, watching Sean and Bethany as they free-style danced/moshed about to music, when we heard a series of unusual thumps from the kitchen. Assuming it was just Jezebel being a bit graceless, or possibly wrestling with Junior, we did nothing. But then the growls and eerie shrieking began. Have you ever been awakened in the wee small hours of the morning to cats screaming outside your window? It was that kind of sound.

While Bethany freaked out and ran to Daddy, I went into the kitchen to see what was amiss. Jezebel and Junior can really mix it up sometimes, but I'd never heard them sound so pissed off. Well, there was Jezebel, her hair standing on end all over her body, right down to her tail (which looked like a bottlebrush), towering over Junior (?), who appeared less aggressive than he usually does in such confrontations. Junior will often take advantage of his slinky speed to jump on top of Jezebel, pinning her down and riding her like a bucking bronco. (Though with no penetration, I should add. Because you've come to expect that sort of detail from me.)

But no, he (?) was cowering down, in full defensive mode. And then Kyle noticed Junior (the real McCoy) observing events from the corner of the dining room. Aaaaaah, mystery solved. This was Sophie full-on getting her ass kicked by Jezebel. I watched as Sophie scurried into what she assumed was a safe haven: the cat box, which is something like a big, deep Rubbermaid tub with a lid on it. It has a hole for the cats to jump down inside.

This was an unwise move, as the cat box is of course the holiest consecrated ground on which a cat can stomp (and crap). Now she had crossed the line. Jezebel got nastier than before, ready to tear and chew through the heavy-duty plastic box to get at that uppity bitch. Time for intervention. I merely opened the kitchen door, suggested that Sophie remove herself from the premises, and she did. Drama over.

Jezebel strutted around the house for a bit, looking smug. I patted her on the head, thanking her for defending her territory, even though Sophie lives there too. It's a weird thing with cats.

As cool as Jezebel is, though, she has never brought down a squirrel on her own. Observe Sophie, settling in to enjoy her recent kill.

You can see that even though each cat believes that life is grander on the other side of the windowpanes, each cat is right where she belongs. Jezebel would never tolerate the extreme elements outdoors ("Me? Outside? In this 75-degree furnace?? I think not!"), and Sophie would soon tire of getting only the occasional spider inside the house, instead of her accustomed backyard banquets of moles, voles, mice, birds and squirrels.