Monday, January 10, 2011

Rants and Ravings

I’ll admit it, I’m an easily annoyed person. I get bugged by little things all the time, you know, the kind of stuff that is meaningless in the long run. These things will always irritate me, but I’m working on the level that I let them get to me (dropping the intensity from “Mother *!@###” to “Doh!”) That being said, here’s a list of things that have caused some recent rants from me.

  • If you put on the packaging that the fruit is SEEDLESS, then there shouldn’t be ANY seeds at all. I’ve hit too many seeds in the seedless Clementines for it to be a random coincidence. Take “Seedless” off the package and I’ll be better prepared for those little tooth breakers.

  • Who decided that it’s a good idea to put healthy food in desserts. Shove your lemon tarts and cranberry muffins where the sun don’t shine. Only exclusions to this are Apple Pies and Blueberry muffins, otherwise keep the fruit out of the junk food and give me chocolate and sugar.

  • Hey delivery guy, when you stop in the middle of the road on side streets, you make it impossible to get around you and now I’m stuck waiting for you to get Aunt Millie’s signature. Pull over to the curb and then everyone can go about their business.

  • While I’m at it, if you see a friend while you’re out for a drive, pullover to the curb to talk to them. I think its safer than stopping your car in the middle of the street and making them come over into the road to talk. Plus it lets the rest of us get on with our lives instead of being stuck waiting for you to get the F!@# out of the way.

  • Hey Mister/Misses walker, did you know that the little piece of concrete on the other side of the curb is called a SIDEWALK. Novel idea, get out of the road and use it. That way neither of us has to give each other dirty looks when I try and pass you in my car. Would it work better for you if while you’re walking on the road, I drove my car up over the curb and onto the sidewalk to pass you?

  • Are today’s cars really built with such poor sightlines that the people driving them can’t tell that they are three and a half car lengths behind the car in front of them at a stoplight. Because so many people can’t pull up to a reasonable distance, I can’t get in the turning lane and make the light. Thanks a lot. I like waiting.

  • And what is it about the light changing from red to green that causes so many peoples brains to freeze? It shouldn’t take 25-30 seconds for the first car to get through the intersection after the light changes. If you’re the lead car, treat the light like a drag racing starter and tear off the line when it changes to green.

  • There is an elevator that I need to use to pick up my son at his grandmothers apartment. I don’t have trouble taking the six flights of stairs, but the 4 year old isn’t quite up to it, so I'm stuck using the elevator. What drives me nuts about this elevator is the fact that I have to stop and wait for people who are using it to go down one floor. Healthy young people using the elevator for ONE FLOOR! An old person with a walker carrying two pounds of sand could walk the one flight of stairs faster than it takes to wait for the elevator to stop and restart for one floor!

  • I have a food allergy, it’s not common and people tend not to believe me, but I can’t eat onions. They cause me great gastrointestinal pain and a couple of days of nausea if I eat them. But there are some people who don’t believe me, so they try and trick me by cooking with onions and telling me that it’s onion free. They’re positive that I’ll love whatever it was they cooked and that they’ll prove that I really can eat onions. I’d like to send those people a trash bag full of the vile stuff that comes out of me the next day when I feel like I’m dying.

  • Ladies, what the hell is in your purse that it takes you half an hour to get your money out at the cash register? And then after all that, you can’t get out of the way because you have to pack it all back in after you’ve paid. How about this, you know you’re in line, you know you’re about to pay for something, how about you get your sh!t together and have your payment method out before it’s your turn with the cashier. Same with guys, get out your wallet before the cashier tells you the total. And leave your checks at home, checkcards have been around for years, upgrade.

And this last one isn’t really a rant and it doesn’t drive me crazy, it’s just an observation. What ever happened to putting holiday related pictures on holiday cards? I looked at all the holiday cards of people’s families doing random stuff and wondered what it had to do with the holidays. I can understand if you had a big event that happened during the year and you had a great photo from it that you wanted to use (like a wedding, or new baby, or your first time as a family in Disney), but where’s the pictures of the kids decorating the tree, or the picture of the kids with Santa, or lighting the Menorah, or celebrating whatever traditions/beliefs your family has? At least have a write-up explaining the meaning of the photo’s (we had a great year and here are some shots of the family enjoying time at the park).

Ok. I got all that out, I feel much better.

Feel free to comment and add to the list, or complain about my complaints, its good therapy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Here we go a Wassailing!

"It's the most wonderful time of the year!" I love the energy that comes from the holidays, be it the crowds out shopping, the holiday parades, the decorating of houses, and of course the baking/eating of all those great cookies and treats. The major thing that seems to tie all these activities together for me is Christmas music. It maybe in the background during all these events, but it’s a constant presence that helps me get into the spirit of the season.


This love of Christmas music goes way back to when I was very young and my mom and I lived at my grandmother’s house. Christmas with my grandmother was very special because we had a lot of fun traditions. After dinner on Christmas Eve, we’d all gather in the living room where my grandmother had a giant stereo and she’d blare old time Christmas records while we’d decorate the tree. My grandfather would come in at the last minute and put the star on the tree and then we’d turn off the house lights and plug in the tree and hope that all the decorations would light up! 


After the decorating, the music would still be blasting and the neighbors would come over and visit and have a few eggnogs, (or other adult drinks) and we'd all sit and listen to stories of Christmases past. Eventually my mom would make me get into my special Christmas PJ's and we'd wait for our one neighbor with the Santa outfit to come over, so I could sit on his lap and tell him what I wanted for being a good boy all year. He played it up well, always saying that Christmas was full of surprises and that I'd definitely get some surprises when I awoke Christmas morning. They were good times. 


When I was old enough to know the "secret" of Santa, I still enjoyed participating in all the traditions while not ruining the surprise for my younger sister. But Christmas really started to loose it’s luster for my family when my Grandmother died when I was about 12. So we'd still decorate the tree, and we'd make some cookies, but none of the energy was there. It eventually just started to become like any other day, except when I woke up I got a bunch of presents. This feeling got worse as my mom would actually end up in the hospital several Christmases in a row and I was left alone with my grandfather. I could have gone with my sister to my stepfamilies for Christmas, but that didn’t feel like Christmas and I stopped getting into the spirit.


One year when I was about 15 or 16, while my grandfather was sleeping on the couch, I grabbed my walkman, found the local channel playing Christmas music, put on some very warm clothes and went out for a walk on Christmas Eve to look at the Christmas decorations. I sang the songs to myself and I got to take a long look at the efforts that others families put into showing their Christmas spirit. Even though I froze my butt off, it was a really fun experience. It was like caroling for the intensely shy, but it definitely got me in the Christmas spirit.


The following year I had a car at Christmas and I was able to drive around, which allowed me to hit a much wider area of houses and I was able to sing along out loud to the carols the way I did when my grandmother was alive. At first, I used to get a little jealous because driving around on Christmas Eve, you get to see not only the decorations, but you get to see other families and friends gathering around like we used to at my grandmothers house. Fortunately for me, I started dating Joanna around Christmas time and we each shared in a couple of traditions, I went with her and her Dad to Christmas Eve service at his church and she came with me for my Christmas Eve caroling drive. I don't know if it's a tradition that Joanna enjoys or not, but she's been doing it with me for the last 15 Christmases, so I thank her for that. We now bring Michael along and sing and sometimes have hot chocolate and go oooh and aaah at some of the truly great decorations. It's one of the things that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for me. To truly get into the spirit, I need to see Ralphie in a Christmas Story, I need to hear Nat King Cole sing the Christmas Song, and I need to drive around and look at Christmas lights while singing along badly to Christmas Carols. So if you see a car moving slowly through your neighborhood and stopping every couple of houses, don’t worry that your house is being staked out like in Home Alone, it’s probably just me and my merry bunch of modern day carolers enjoying your decorations!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Random pictures from my life

The bread has an "exhaust" port!

Sticker says "if you can read this, we better be married!
A rare sight!
 A fantastic view at Brunch!
 Another rare sight, a picture of Joanna with a smile!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Blanket

When I was a little boy I had to shroud myself in a ripped and tattered blanket. As I trembled and shivered during the cold and blustery seasons of my youth, I yearned for the cozy blankets that other children were provided, but I had to learn to make do with what I had. Occasionally my blanket would get some patchwork mending that afforded me with some additional warmth, but these were fleeting repairs that eventually left my blanket more threadbare than before.

As I grew older, I ultimately became numb to the cold and came to believe that my shabby blanket was all I needed to protect me from the harsh chill. But after several more frigid winters, I began to think that I was probably better off facing the cold without a blanket at all and I set to cast it aside. I felt certain that a stout young man should be able to shelter himself from the severe conditions through sheer will alone.

While I was wandering through another bitterly cold season, I by chance came across a beautiful quilt. It had all of the warm, welcoming elements of the blankets that I had envied as a child. I felt an overwhelming need to wrap myself up in it. Once I was enshrouded in it, I knew I needed this quilt to thaw my chill and help me reach a depth of warmth I had yet to encounter. I began to examine it more closely, and I discovered that it was decorated with gorgeous, intricate patterns. With all of its meticulous stitching, it was obvious that someone had worked very hard on fashioning its beautiful design, and I became afraid that I would not be able to afford such a luxurious piece.

Through patient hard work, I was eventually able to earn what was needed to acquire the quilt. I spent many comfortable nights wrapped up in its cozy warmth. The more time I spent immersed in its deep lush layers, the more I grew to appreciate its wonderful design. My quilt just kept growing more pleasantly snug the longer I nuzzled up with it.

But as people often do, I forgot how cold I was before I found my quilt and I started to take its coziness for granted. Instead of properly tending to its care, I let my quilt get frayed and a little worn. When others needing warmth tried to seek cover under my quilt, I became selfish, and like a child who doesn't want to share, I started to tug and pull on it.  In doing so, I caused some tears, and I realized that what I was doing would eventually turn my quilt into the tattered blanket of my youth.

Fortunately the harm done by my carelessness was not so extensive that it couldn’t be repaired. Without delay, I began mending the damage, and I discovered that with the help of others, my quilt could be expanded and it's beautiful patterns enhanced. I found that the more I shared my quilt, the warmer and cozier I felt while under its cover.  I finally realized that my quilt had always been ample enough to shelter many others, and with their help, it could continue to grow larger and more encompassing so that no one should have to suffer the bitter cold alone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Love at First Sight?

Anyone remember the first time you met your significant other? Was it like in the movies where everything goes into slow motion and stars appear around them? Did you know at that moment that you were in the presence of “the One?” I do remember the exact moment I met Joanna and because it was around this time of the year, I thought I’d post about it to see how it compares with some other peoples situations.

It started back in November of 1994.  I had been out of school for a couple of months and I was living at home with my mom. She was getting annoyed with me because I was being a lazy slob that sat around playing video games all day. So to appease her, I started applying for jobs that I knew I had no shot of getting, stuff at the mall where they need bodies for the holidays. You see, I’m not a people person and I was sure that no one would hire me for a job involving customer service. But to my surprise, I got a call back from the bookstore at the mall. Turns out they needed a shipping clerk and since I had previously received deliveries at a restaurant, I guess they thought I knew what I was doing. After accepting the job, I was told to attend an all hands meeting on the following Sunday to discuss what was expected of all the employees during the busy holiday season and that I would be introduced to everyone then. The manager told me that I needed to dress business casual, no sweatshirts or jeans. That eliminated 98% of my wardrobe, so I ended up wearing a pair of ill-fitting khakis and a pretty loud sweater.

As I walked into the store, a girl yelled at me that the store was closing, and I replied that I was there for the all hands meeting. She made some comment about my sweater that I didn’t really hear because the manager grabbed me to take back to the shipping area to fill out paperwork. When I came back out, the store was being cleaned up after closing. It seems that a lot of people who shop in malls really have no respect and they just throw things anywhere, so after the store closes, a lot of time is spent trying to put stuff back into the right place. As I was wondering through the store, the same girl yelled over for me. She was standing behind a counter with a stack of magazines and she proceeded to yell “hey sweaterboy, can you put these magazines back in the rack in the front of the store.” I came over and took the magazines and noticed that the girl had on a striped long sleeve sweater, a long black skirt that stopped at her shoes (they were Birkenstock sandals with blue fleece socks), she had on Lisa Loeb glasses, and her hair pulled back just above her forehead. She looked like a younger version of my high school librarian. (I can't imagine what she thought of me and my baggy pants and ugly black and grey sweater!) As I took the stack of magazines from her I saw that the one on the top was an open Playboy, which she noticed as well and so she said, loudly, in front of four other female employees, “think you can get these over there without drooling over the girlie mag?” At that point, I was thoroughly embarrassed and annoyed, and it took all I could muster to not retort with the first jab that came to mind, which was, sure thing Miss Future Cat Lady. But I held my tongue and over the course of the next couple of weeks I found out how smart, witty, and kind she was. After our initial encounter and how I usually don't warm up to people who tease me, I was really surprised at how much I liked her. It was really disappointing that she got transfered to another store after the holiday season was over. But being that I'm lazy and not into change, I still had the same receiving job when she returned to the store as a manager later that year. A few months after she returned, we became pretty friendly. Two years later, we were dating. Sixteen years later we’re married and have a wonderful child.

So this is the story of how sweaterboy and future cat lady librarian came to meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Thank you Joanna for being the best friend, wife, mother, and all around greatest person I know. I’ll never forget the day we met, because it really was the best day of my life!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Perfect Parent?

I’m pretty sure that everyone grew up with a notion of what the perfect parent should be like, and I bet that there were times when it seemed that our parents fell short of this ideal. I even suspect that a lot of new parents start out thinking that they are not going to repeat the mistakes of their parents. They enthusiastically go out and buy parenting books and read up on all the new techniques on how to raise the perfect child and what to do when problems arise. But ultimately, when push comes to shove and there is a crying, tantruming kid, a lot of us are going to fall back on how our parents handled the situation. This can be good if you were raised by patient, understanding, reasonable people. But if you grew up around quick tempered, easily irritated adults, chances are you will end up spending a lot of time yelling at your child.

I grew up with parents who were moody and became easily irritated. They tended to yell at my sister and I when things weren’t running the way they wanted. I didn’t want to be the same way with Michael, but I found myself falling into the same patterns as my parents. While searching for help to break out of my parents mold, I too went the route of trying to find a parenting book, and what I ended up stumbling upon was a book called “Becoming the Kind Father” by Calvin Sandborn. I can’t recommend the book enough because through his story, I’ve learned that much like the author, when I think, I don’t think in my own voice, but in that of my parents. The perfectionism I expect is really the perfectionism they expected, and when things don’t go right, I get frustrated and irritable because they did, and then I turn around and put those same expectations on Michael, and when he doesn’t act how I want, I get upset.  What the book has taught me is that I need to start thinking in my own voice, one that I should have heard from my parents as a child. A voice that is supportive and kind, but can also be authoritative without being mean or angry. I’m working on becoming the “Kind Father” who is supportive and doesn’t make his child tiptoe around worrying that he’s going to do something wrong and get yelled at.

I coming around to the realization that I’m never going to be perfect because, in this world, there aren’t perfect parents, and there aren’t perfect kids, but I can strive to be one of the loving, caring, supportive parents who can help my wife raise a wonderfully intelligent and well adjusted kid.

The following poem by Dr Dorothy Nolte appears in the book and it sums up the lessons that I’ve learned about how my actions as a parent will affect my son’s future attitudes and relationships.

If children live with criticism, They learn to condemn
If children live with hostility, They learn to fight
If children live with ridicule, They learn to feel shy
If children live with shame, They learn to feel guilty
If children live with encouragement, They learn confidence
If children live with tolerance, They learn patience
If children live with praise, They learn appreciation
If children live with acceptance, They learn to love
If children live with approval, They learn to like themselves
If children live with honesty, They learn truthfulness
If children live with security, They learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them
If children live with friendliness, They learn the world is a nice place to live.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Ok, I know that this post is two weeks late, but I’ve had some issues getting pictures and video off my IPhone and I really wanted to have those before I blogged about it. This year I really got into Halloween, I mean really into it. You see, I finally did some upgrades to the house, and for the first time in the 7 years we’ve been here, I was able to decorate for Halloween because I got an outdoor power outlet installed the front of the house. (Can’t wait for Christmas, I’m gonna give Clarke Griswold a run for his money)
As a kid, I always loved Halloween. I have always enjoyed the imagery of a scary leafless tree against a moonlight background, the sound of the wind whistling through the baron branches, the crunching of the leaves on the ground as trick or treaters’ approached a house with a perfectly carved jack-o-lantern. It felt like a treat to be outside in the dark dressed up in a scary costume, sharing time with good friends. I was a shy kid and it took a couple of years for me to figure it out, but I finally realized how great Halloween was because I could hide behind a costume and become anyone I wanted to be and my shyness would melt away. My friends and I had many great Halloween adventures. Between the trick or treating, the awesome costume parties that my one friend’s parents threw, or hanging with the same kid's older brothers who would take us out way too late to go around scaring people, my buddies and I almost always had a blast.
But that ended when my one friend moved away when I was about 12. The neighborhood suddenly got very old and no one did anything for Halloween anymore. I just assumed that I had outgrown Halloween and that it was for little kids. But I still kept a few traditions, like taking a walk once it was dark to see if I could find a good local haunted house, then coming home to watch old black and white horror films. I never let the cool feeling of Halloween die, I just stopped celebrating it.
Now that I’m a dad with a four year old, I want my son to experience some of the cool things I got to see as a kid. Locally, we handle Halloween pretty well. All the neighborhood kids are close in age, so they all get dressed up and go out together. The community does a good job of getting people to participate in handing out treats, but no one is really into the scary decorating. Now I know that the kids are mostly between the ages of 3 and 6,and I’m not into traumatizing them with nightmares of ghouls, but come on people, put some bats or spiders out (I admit there were some good Jack-o-lanterns). Anyway, I went out and got a smoking bubble machine, made a small graveyard with a skeleton and a ghost, and our candy was distributed next to the evil mad scientist working on his next Frankenstein creation. I also said to myself that the kids didn’t need to be the only ones having fun, so I actually got dressed up as well. So here are some of the pictures from Zeke’s Halloween 2010.
Heroes to the Rescue

Spidey and his Friends
Wizard lord of the Skeletons
Little Skeleton King
Lord of the Graveyard

Graveyard at Daylight
Neighborhood Mad Scientist
Good Night to all the Ghoulies