Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brett Favre Inspired Career Advice

I couldn't help it. The kids, dogs and the ongoing turmoil of my midlife crisis will have to wait while I address this critical sports posting today.

Reports are out that the Green Bay Packers are willing to offer Brett Favre $20 Million over ten years to stay retired. I know the Packers have been reluctant to face dealing with their quarterback situation, but is this really the best use of their salary cap?

More importantly, how can I get paid a substantial sum to stay home? Granted I'm not likely to be inducted into any Information Technology Management Hall of Fame, no matter how many ballots they have, but if I set my mind to it, I could cause more disruption my attending work that by being absent. And I'll do it for significantly less than $20 Million. Here are my terms:
  • $1 million/year for 5 years to remain in pants all day. $500K to wear shoes.
  • $2 million up front for a 6 year agreement not to cook popcorn in the lunchroom microwave.
  • $10K/week performance incentive to refrain from forwarding emails containing any of the following attachments: pictures of kitties, videos of crotch-related accidents, any endorsements of McCain, Obama or any third party kook who jumps in before November.
  • $500K for one year without referring to any female co-workers as "Sugar" or "Honey". I don't do it now, but maybe I could get a little respect for being so enlightened all on my own.

That's it for now, but I'm sure my agent can come up with something.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Your Mom is a %#@*&*$!!

This weekend, my 12 Y.O. Daughter received a very disturbing text message from the “friend of a friend” of a girl at her school accusing her mom of having sex with neighborhood dogs. It appeared to be out of the blue, unprovoked and unrelated to any previous contact she had had with this girl (which seems to be none).The new media is like that; you can be insulted directly by someone you didn't even know you didn't know. I was shocked and Mom was horrified. Forgetting for a moment that 12 Y.O.’s cell phone was a gift from one of Mom’s boyfriends and against my wishes, she is a wonderful woman and certainly not deserving of such a comment.

And it's not the first time the sexual indiscretions of the kids' mother has been called into question. Last year, the 14 Y.O. Son had been told by a kid on the bus that he had come through Mom's bedroom window late at night and engaged in intercourse with her. Of course that's not how he had described it, but I'm trying to keep this blog reasonably clean.

While these events were disturbing, the most was the kids didn't think it was a big deal. "It's not personal," they reason. 'That kid doesn't even know you." But it is personal, intensely personal. Anything insult directed at a mom, regardless of whether or not the insulter knows the mom.

I’m not sure what bothers me more: the insults or that the kids don’t do anything about it. I think it’s the later.

I know full well these rotten kids don’t really mean what they say; of course that kid didn’t come over for some midnight delight and The Ex’s love of the dogs comes no where near the neighborhood of erotic. They are just insults, but insults made with no fear of reprisal.

Not in my day let me tell you (he said with Grumpy Old Man affectation).

Any insult that involved a mom was an invitation for a fight. It didn’t matter what was said or even if it made sense. “Your mom is dumb.” “Your mom smells.” “Your mom pays retail.” “Your mom’s favorite James Bond was George Lazenby.” The intent was understood. In my Dad’s day, the worst insult was to identify a kid’s mom’s shoes as being army boots. I don’t know why.

I once punched a kid for saying my mom’s bum wiggled. He was a year younger than me, but in this case, the rules against hitting little kids were off. Her bum may well have wiggled and it was just a statement of fact, but slug him I did. Later, when his parent marched over to our house to accuse me of beating up their son, all I did was repeat what he said and the issue was closed. Everybody understood the mom insult was taboo.

Today we have so conditioned the kids not to fight, meanness goes unchecked. They are free to disrespect everyone’s mom with no fear of a bloody nose. No wonder being a mom seems to get less admiration all the time.

There should be a movement. Like the Gadsden Flag with the rattlesnake declaring “Don’t Tread on Me”, kids willing to rumble for their mothers should wear buttons with the slogan “Don’t Dis My Mom” surrounding a kid with a black eye and a fat lip.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Swinging Isn't the Only Way to Share the Love

Dogs and Jeans (and beer and sausage and country music and football and...sorry that's a different list) was lucky enough to be awarded it's first Blogging Award. Mama Dawg of Two Dogs Running (hmm, sensing a 'canines in motion' theme) was kind enough to to give me the Brilliante Weblog award. She is funny and takes great photos of her family, her sexually indiscreet pets and oddly shaped garden fruit.

Now I'm not the brightest guy, buy I think I figured out the following instructions that go with this honor:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Add links to these blogs on your blog.
5. Leave a message for your nominee on their blog.

With great power goes great responsibility, so here are my nominees:
1. Mama’s losin’ it

But she’s fighting the dementia every step of the way

2. Taawd’s Thoughts

Blogger and sports fan from Cleveland and a guy, which is not common.

3. Looking Through the Lens

Jiana is the youngest blogger I’ve been reading and has some great observations.

4. Just Lisa No Filler

She and her family are trying to adopt and keeping it light hearted.

5. Sassy Stephanie of Our Piece of Quiet

6. Jennifer P Of the Peterson’s Go Public: http://theboysquad.blogspot.com/

With a bunch of boys, not much is private. Plus she gave me my first comment ever.

7. Journey to the Hot Tub http://hottublizzy.blogspot.com/

Lizzie is a hoot and doesn't hold back.

8. Debbie from This is the Life.
It's not the life of Riley, but I know Riley and Debbie isn't missing anything.

9. French Maid Cocette of Suburban Musings.
She keeps the place tidy but doesn't accept tips

So that's two days of trying to figure this process out.

Thanks to everyone who read my blog yesterday who helped push reads over 100 for the first time. And Part 3 of Dialing Under the Influence is posted on my screenplay blog.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Random Thoughts for a Saturday

Me and Dad Last Year
Awesome support for everyone regarding my Dad’s illness. I’d tell him you all care so much, but I don’t know if he’d get it. His job issued him a laptop 5 years ago and it gets a lot of minesweeper use, but that’s about it. For a guy so smart (and good with tools too), his embrace of writing technology is a step above wax tablet use.

Mama Dawg over at TwoDogsRunning has given me an Award. My first award! I don’t know what to do next, but it seems to have something to do with passing it on to seven other bloggers. This is like that high school ethics test, where I have to start throwing people out of the life boat. Now who do I like best…? (Hint: If you are willing to share your sausage and beer, your chances of not ending up at the bottom of the ocean are improved)

The Ex took the oldest boy to the Big City last night to meet a modeling agent who has already booked him a job. It’s crazy. He wants to be a doctor, he's handsome, smart and nice. If he wasn’t my kid, I’d hate him.

This is him looking smug.



So, I had to bring the dog I’m house sitting back to OLD house to look after the dogs. The Crow Baby does not like the Guest Dog. Gaston sits atop the fence posts and screams at her, the way the rest of the crows scream at Gaston. I guess he really thinks he’s a dog.

Here’s a blurry picture of his rage.


Thanks to all the people reading “Dialing Under the Influence”. Part Three goes up later today. If you like it, tell others. Please.

If you are into movies and the Movie Business, check out ScriptGirl’s weekly report on new deals. She puts a lot of work into the graphics and it’s pretty funny.

My goals for Dogs & Jeans this month was to top 500 unique visitors and at least 100 reads per day. We topped 500 yesterday and are closing in on 100 reads (88 yesterday). Only 5 days left to reach Objective 2. Next month I double it. Yeah, that’s right Bloggers; Type A personality on the ‘Net.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pharmaceutical Drug Research Nazis

Not a funny post today.

I just found out that the antibiotics my father was on to combat a staph infection following reconstructive surgery have left him severely handicapped. The drugs have damaged his kidneys, but worse, have killed all the cilia in his inner ear. He is now unable to move his head with his eyes open without falling or vomiting.

But don't think he is an elderly nursing home patient who is adding another drug to an already packed regimen. Dad was struck by a car while riding his bike home and left for dead at the side of the road. After a year of rehab for concussions, he was pretty much back to his old skiing/skydiving/jogging self except for the nagging rotator cuff injury also sustained in the crash.

I realize no surgery is 100% safe, but for a healthy, active 65 year old, re-attaching two ligaments shouldn't be a big deal. Until the infection.

Three major surgeries later, everything was pulled out and Dad was put on an in-line drip of gentamicin for 10 days. After the treatment, he was dizzy at even the slightest movement. Turns out killing the 'vestibular' system is a well known side effect of gentamicin. It's right there on wikipedia, along with the URL's of support groups for people who had the same thing happen.

He is far worse off than before the surgery and will never recover. Never play catch with his grandkids, never drive to the store for milk, never swing a golf club, never canoe with my mom. He hasn't even retired yet and all those retirement activities have been stolen.

It made me think about side effects of drugs and why they nearly always seem worse than the ailments they treat. You have heard the hushed warnings at the end of the commercial where happy people, free from allergies or now able to hold an erection, go fly a kite, .

Warning! May cause:
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • numbness
  • rectal bleeding
  • vision loss
  • severe muscle cramping
  • heart failure
  • arthritis
  • ringing in the ears
  • liver failure
  • pancreatic rupture
I have a feeling all the Nazi 'researchers' did not end up in Paraguay. They are working still in pharmaceutical labs for GlaxoSmithKline.

Part 2 of Dialing Under the Influence is posted here (unless you don't feel like laughing. I don')

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Communal System of Movie Production

Many supportive readers of my blog have asked me to post other writing I have done. Be careful for what you ask Dear Blogosphere.

I have created a new
blogsite to serialize my last comedy screenplay "Dialing Under the Influence". The story is about a college professor who becomes a reluctant pop icon after his drunken phone message to an ex-girlfriend propels him to Internet stardom.

Feel free to let me have it with your notes. I could never get an agent or producer in LA to read it, but somebody should enjoy it. So head on over to dialingundertheinfluence.blogspot.com and have a read.

I'll post subsequent sections every few days, or until enough people say "Stop! For the Love of God, please stop!"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If Home Birth is Where the Heart Is, What About Laser Eye Surgery?

One of the women in my department is pregnant. Please understand that our business is I.T., not selling candles and hemp handicrafts at local fairs. She is a perfectly normal person (as near as I can tell), yet she has announced she will be delivering her baby AT HOME.

I don’t want to wade into the ‘right/wrong’ argument over home birth, but I have never understood the desire to conduct potentially life threatening, high risk medical procedures without the benefit of 400 years of scientific practice close at hand. I have been there for the births of nearly all my children and as far as I can tell, the hospitals go out of their way to make the Birthing Rooms as homey as possible. It’s like a suite at the Days Inn with an adjustable bed and beeping machines, but no mini-bar.

Why is childbirth the only procedure that is subject to this social phenomenon? No one decides to have their ACL repaired at home. There are no Adenoid Removal Rooms designed to put the patient at ease at the hospital. My grandfather didn’t choose to have his open heart surgery done under the caring hands of a lay-surgeon while African drummers played traditional Celtic tunes (don’t ask).

Sure, Neo-natal units might insist that a woman’s degree of dilation be checked by every member of the medical staff, interns, maintenance workers and a handful of random passersby. They almost go to the trouble of announcing it over the PA. “If anyone has not yet inserted their hand into Mrs. Anderson’s privates, please proceed to Room 214. Don’t be shy. Free balloons and stickers for the kids.” In my books, that’s just being inclusive.

And what’s with Water Birth? Should other procedures be done underwater? Even the urban myth of the guy who wakes up in a tub of ice with stitches in his lower back because somebody stole his kidney features the poor schmo being in a hot tub before he blacked out.

Maybe alternative birthing practices shouldn’t be restricted to home alone. Women could choose to give birth anywhere: airplanes, Vegas, Biodome II, the Super Bowl. It could spawn a whole new specialty travel service the way Gay Cruises did in the ‘90s. I can see the adds now:

“Are you fed up with boring child birth in your humdrum old home? Break out of the crowd and impress your scrapbooking club when you pop that puppy out while landing a Stealth Fighter on the flagship aircraft carriers of the Pacific Fleet”.

It’s a million dollar idea!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camping Terrorists Part II – Look in the Mirror

I took the kids (including the 12 Y.O.’s BFF) camping again this weekend. To continue the anthropological investigation begun last week (see Camping Bimbos), I changed locations to see if I would encounter the same archetypes. There were no Bimbos, Horney Teens or Drinking Buddies this time but several Elderly Mini-dog Nazi’s. In addition, I discovered three new Campground Terrorists and one new sub-variety. The worst part is, one of the terrorists was us!

Archetype Variation: The Bicycle Cruising Senior
This individual is a sub-type of the Elderly Mini-dog Nazi. Outfitted with a three-speed “beach bike” and armed with a high powered headlight, the Bicycle Cruising Senior pedals frequent laps around the campground casting a judgmental eye on any potentially contraband activity. They expect full right-of-way during any encounter on the path and give little heed to adolescents carrying inflatable rafts, foam noodles or water toys of any kind. Evening circuits are devoted to scanning every campsite for campfires with flames over 12 inches using their blinding halogen lamp.

The Crying Baby Twentysomethings:
This delightful couple’s love for the outdoors is one of the cornerstones of their recent marriage. However, after having their first child, they refuse to accept the fact that their world has changed. “It is impossible to go camping without getting dirty and it is impossible to feed and change an infant without getting dirty. Therefore,” they reason, “caring for a baby on a camping trip is no different that at home.” Such faulty logic is common in Twentysomethings for whom no obstacle is too large to be conquered by love, veganism and positive thinking. Of course the infant camping is a total disaster and every camper within a 3 mile radius is forced to hear the child’s wails ALL FREAKING NIGHT LONG.

The Door Sensor Van Camper:
This individual has not yet made the leap to RV’ing but uses equally his high-tech van and the attached sleeping tent. While it seems reasonable to use the van for inclement weather, the Door Sensor Van Camper requires the vehicle for all manner of eating, food preparation, DVD watching, email checking etc. The result is a constant opening and closing of the van doors. Because of this, the headlights flash repeatedly with every door movement giving every campsite in the path of the lights a Studio 54 strobe light effect long past when any self respecting disco-hating camper wants to be asleep.

The Door Sensor Van Camper also has only one remote control for the van, but is accompanied by three other people who ‘accidentally’ set off the car alarm at least once every 4 hours.

The Inappropriate Teens:
This group of campers is often a single family unit that has brought along a friend for one of the kids. This change in group dynamics results in an attempt to impress, showoff, embarrass or seduce the friend through ribald conversations about the size or hairiness of all the aforementioned children’s private parts or secondary sex characteristics. Frequent discussions of who want to kiss other people’s anatomy result in roughhousing that brings down tents or scatters flaming fire logs in all directions. Of course all these vulgar exchanges are conducted using Stadium Voices regardless of how often the Alpha Male of the group (or so he thought) reminds the Inappropriate Teens that sound carries very far at night.

I apologize to anyone who had to endure the onslaught. The kids will be heavily medicated the next time we go.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Camping Bimbos, Horny Teens and other Campground Terrorists

Before I had kids, I used to go camping all by myself. I’d drive to a remote series of lakes, throw in the canoe and paddle far away from civilization. Now that I have a kids, my opportunity to get too far away is limited not only by time but by my patience with them fighting in the back seat. I do enjoy the company of other people in most settings but when camping my preference is still to see no other human faces but their dirty little ones.

I took the kids camping this last weekend but only for one night. We had a great time (the weather was HOT) but we were too close to the city to eliminate the non-campers (yes, I’m a camping snob). I was left to shake my head that the same group of people surround me every year if I don’t go far enough away. Perhaps your recognize these archetypes:

The Rock Music Aficionado:
This guy delights in sharing his collection of Classic Rock music with the entire campground. If there are space limitations, he will sacrifice bringing necessities like camp stoves or first aid kits in place of his Boom Box. However, his preferred amplification method it to drive his 1992 Cutlass right to the campsite so we can all enjoy the six subwoofers filling his trunk Often attired in concert T-Shirts and toped by a flowing mullet, the Aficionado feels no guilt in blasting hits from the 70’s and 80’s since “IT’S AWESOME DUDE!!”

The Drinking Buddies:
Sometimes accompanying the Rock Music Aficionado, the Drinking Buddies have moved their Rec Room or Bar Binging activities to the Great Outdoors. They come well equipped with coolers full of beer but no real food to soak up all the alcohol in their stomachs and keep them from serious alcohol poisoning. The Drinking Buddies have plenty of opinions on wives, ex-wives, girlfriends, ex girlfriends and “bitches” in general. These opinions are shared loudly in between the throb of the music. Late at night, these opinions have decayed into only hoots and hollers.

The Camping Bimbos:
Frequently displaying an assortment of back tattoos acquired at local carnivals, these scantily clad early-20’s girls cruise the campground, usually in groups of 3 or 4. Camping Bimbos are often generous in their proportions, yet insist on squeezing into cut-offs and refrain from wearing T-shirts even as the evening cools down. Partial to wine coolers, the Camping Bimbos maintain at least an hourly circuit of all campsites letting everyone know what “Assholes” their boyfriends and ex-boyfriends are. It is not uncommon for a ‘wardrobe malfunction’ to result in a nipple peak or even a full fledged boob flop just as they pass a family heading to the public beach.

The Horny Teens:
In groups no fewer than three pairs, the Horny Teens have lied to their parents saying they are camping only with the friends of their same gender so they can get away and fuck all weekend. While often confined to their campsite, the bolder Horny Teens will relocate all manner of fornication to beaches, playgrounds, picnic areas or any other location where heavy petting would be considered bad manners. The rigors of their activities often prevent them from staying up late. Despite their comfort with public displays of affection, the Horny Teens are still self-conscious enough to keep their in-tent humping free from screaming, moaning or instructions about the speed or vigor to insert things.

Toy Man:
Toy Man can be identified by the number and horsepower of his vehicles. Not content to pitch a tent, lounge in a folding chair or float on a modest inflatable raft, this campground terrorist arrived with a motor home or fifth-wheel packed like a Price is Right Showcase. The surrounding campsites vibrate with the noise of his dirt bikes and ATV’s while the waters churn with ski boats and sea-do’s. The only thing that can slow Toy Man is the steady increase in gas prices

The Elderly Mini-Dog Nazis:
The Elderly Mini-Dog Nazis have been camping since they first met before The War (which war is never clear). They are competent campers but are oblivious to the fact that their three Terriers, Pekinese, Shitzus, Poodles (or any interbred combination of these four) haven’t stopped barking from the moment they entered the God Damn Campground! The Elderly Mini-Dog Nazis not only hate all the above archetypes, but everyone else in the camp and the dogs feed on the animosity turning them into tiny spinning, spitting balls of yapping fury.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tales of Literary Mediocrity

Stories about Meth Addicted Dogs, Crazy Teenagers and Special Needs Crows are fun and all, but I also wanted to use this blog as a forum to help me figure out the rest of my life. To recap, I am:

  • Over 40
  • Separated
  • On the verge of bankruptcy
  • Working at a job I don't understand and never wanted
That description sounds like a great number of folks out there I meet everyday, and half of my friends from college. Since I can't seem to do much about the first two bullets, I'm determined to improve the last two. Again I come back to writing for money.


Over the past ten years I have written extensively and had (extremely) modest success. I have had a handful of paid magazine articles published, however, the effort does come out to far less than minimum wage if I add up the hours. For two years I wrote political satire in Canada’s National Post newspaper. They discontinued the section three years ago, which is a shame because I really enjoy writing funny stuff like this:


The New England Patriots stand accused of using spies to steal other teams' sideline signals. Here, in an instance of "news you can use" for football fans, is the Top 12 list of signs your local NFL club is being victimized by cloak-and-dagger tactics:
12. Cheerleaders mysteriously replaced with chorus line in trenchcoats and dark glasses, and they're all named Natasha.
11. New defensive co-ordinator takes his martinis shaken not stirred.
10. Sideline headphone system keeps picking up North Korean radio broadcasts.
9. New receiver from Bulgaria constantly taking notes in huddle.
8. Cleaning staff at hotel have thick Russian accents.
7. The other team's mascot is a satellite dish.
6. During coin toss, opposing captain seeks asylum.
5. "Coach, there's this guy in the third row and he's talking into his shoe."
4. Everything in locker room is too neat ... like someone didn't want you to know they'd been there!
3. Huddle discussions mysteriously broadcast over stadium loudspeakers.
2. Coach signals for a pass play, and defence calls for giant nets.
1. Placekicker swears he saw the goalposts move as he lined up for convert.


Now that's a fun job. But not much call for it out there. So this week I began writing my third screenplay. "Third?" I hear you say. "You mean you have written more than one?"

Yes. Both unproduced. But that's not all. I have two unpublished novels completed too.

Likely this will be an effort in futility and I'd be better off getting a part time job at 7/11, but I need to write it anyway.

If people are interested, I'll post sections for you to read. If not, I'll keep it all to myself and the world will never know (much like my other projects).

On a completely different note, has anyone noticed how often the Google Ads on banners offer to introduce you to Hot Asians, no matter what the actual content of the webpage is? If I'm interested in funeral homes in Tempe, what makes Google think I'm up for some hot Asian dating?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Proper Crow Hygiene PSA

No need for too much narration. Just a Public Service Announcement to promote healthy lifestyles for crow-friendly families.

First we bathe: (non-nudity video)
video

Then we preen:

Make sure to get both sides:

Now check the Drug Dog for contraband:
We're not done yet. Dad still needs an inspection:

Don't forget the ears:


Now we're ready for adventure:

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Will Dr. Drew Host Canine Rehab?

It has been over a month since the near-death experience with my Lab turned out to be a self-inflicted drug experiment, the likes of which would make Timothy Leary and Hunter S. Thompson proud. The fact that both men are dead should have been enough to turn the dog off ‘the junk’, but he doesn’t always listen. (He licks bare spots on his fur even though I tell him it will just get infected.)
The Lab is back to his old self after a couple of weeks of feeling very sorry for himself. I guess being induced to vomit will do that to anyone. He does not appear to be suffering any long term effects. However, I do catch him from time to time just trying to “maintain” when he is lying still. You know when you hit that point after a few drinks when you are past ‘the buzz’ but don’t want to let on that you have gotten drunk? When you just focus on breathing steady, not shouting when speaking and think to yourself “Just be cool Man, be cool.”

This is what that looks like on a dog.

The compost pile has been covered and sealed to prevent another re-occurrence, and a second exorbitant vet bill. The Lab continues to circle the pile, looking for access though I haven’t heard him muttering to himself about needing just one more hit to make it through the night. I’m not sure whether to admire his tenacity or pity his jones.

Friday, July 4, 2008

America: 50 Ways to Love Your Neighbor

Happy 4th of July Everyone.
I have more news about the Crow Baby, but that will wait for a day. (Worm training is going well, thank you very much)
Instead, as a tribute to my wonderful Neighbor to the South, here is a state-by-state observation of the greatest country on Earth (as told by a proud Canadian). Feel free to skip down to your state if I ramble on.

Alaska
It’s bigger than Texas and slightly more hospitable than it’s latitudinal cousins: Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories. However, movies and TV shows set in Alaska are usually filmed in Washington or British Columbia. It’s like filming a movie set in Detroit in Mexico City instead.
The travel schedule is brutal if you play sports for the University of Alaska.

Arizona
There are so many retired Canadians in Phoenix, when the Toronto Blue Jays visit the D’Backs during inter-league play, it’s like a home game for the Jays.
John McCain in a hero; read “Faith of My Fathers” and try to disagree with me.

Alabama
My FAVORITE state. Deep fried okra, hoppin john, surface raised catfish, barbeque, biscuits with every meal and sweet tea. I love sweet tea. Alabama is hot, but not too hot. Beaches, hiking, Rosa Parks, Auburn-Alabama football, Lynard Skynard.
What’s not to love?

Arkansas
Best capital city name: Little Rock. But why is it not pronounced ar-KAN-sas?

California
Oh yeah, like you need more attention. Get over yourself.

North Carolina
In my mind I’m going to (North) Carolina…
Ahh, that’s better.

Colorado
Billy Joel sings in “The Ballad of Billy the Kid” that Billy robbed his first bank in Telluride. However, it was really Butch Cassidy before he hooked up with the Sundance Kid and before he rode Catherine Ross around on the handlebars of his bicycle. You can look it up.

Connecticut
Nicknamed the “Constitution State”, Connecticut boasts the highest per capita income and median household income in the country. It has long been a state populated my overachievers. Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe were actually neighbors in Hartford. Imagine being the poor schmo who lived on the other side who hadn’t written a Great American Novel.

State Hero Nathan Hale reputedly declared before being hanged as a spy: “I only regret that I have but one life to give my country”. I hope I have something even half as awesome to say before I die. Unfortunately it will likely be “No, I don’t need to wear a helmet.”

North & South Dakota
I have only been to the Dakota’s in the winter, but the scenery was spectacular in it’s bleakness. Mt. Rushmore is breathtaking; you don’t appreciate the full scope until you’ve seen it in person. It makes me wonder if it would be possible to undertake the project now. I can’t imagine that environmentalists and parks preservation groups would ever allow an entire mountainside to be carved up into statues, no matter how noble the honorees.
Think of the endless partisan committee negotiation to endorse one president over another. Why not Adams, or Jackson or Polk or Grant?
Best university team nickname: The Fighting Sioux.

Delaware
Don’t have much to say. I haven’t been there; I don’t know anyone who has. It has a bunch of nicknames including “The Diamond State” and “The Blue Hen State”, but maybe the “Under The Radar State” might be more fitting. It’s not even the smallest state, so Delawareans, help me out. What’s awesome about Delaware? (maybe I’ll add it to “I Like Things That Are Great!”)

June 7 Update: This just in... Deleware has no sales tax. Woo Hoo. I think some of Canada's exhorbitant tax payments must be rediirected to support Deleware's social systems and infrastructure.

District of Columbia
See above: California

Florida
In 1976, I visited Florida with my parents. At Busch Gardens I got a Bicentennial Revolutionary tricorner hat (too long ago for digital pictures to post but take my word for it, I was a handsome 10 year old). I wore it everyday. We returned home to Ontario and I wore it to school where I was promptly beaten up.
My dad and I drove down again my senior year of high school. In Cocoa Beach I bought a cool hat at the RonJon Surf Shop. That fall at college, someone stole it of my head at a freshman party and it disappeared into the crowd never to be seen again.
Florida and hats are not a good mix for me.

Georgia
I don’t think I have ever been hotter than in Georgia, but I do love me some pecan logs at Stuckey’s. The state seems huge when you are thinking it’s not far to the Florida border.
I think it’s the only state with an official song sung by a contemporary musician, but I’ve been wrong before.

Hawaii
Practically everyone I know but me has gone to Hawaii, the only state that was once a monarchy. I used to have plans of going to the university, but I never did anything to accomplish that, so nothing happened. Funny how that works.
I have seen kite surfers on TV and have to say that looks like the MOST FUN a human can have.

Idaho
The Gem State. That’s nice. State capital: Boise. Boise is a fun word to say. Famous for potatoes; everybody likes potatoes. It’s the setting for Napoleon Dynamite; everyone likes Napoleon Dynamite. The state motto is “Let it be forever’; it doesn’t get more positive than that.
Hats off to Idaho.

Illinois
The state capital is Springfield but producers deny it’s the same Springfield where the Simpson’s live (although there is at least one page of Simpson’s in the Springfield phonebook). One of my life dreams is to see Notre Dame beat Michigan in South Bend. Thank you Touchdown Jesus.
If you produce a sparkling wine in Champagne, are you allowed to call it champagne, or will the French get snooty about that too?

Indiana
The Hoosier State? What’s a Hoosier? Come to think of it, what are Sooner’s, Hoya’s, Hokie’s and Tarheel’s?
Indiana is home to over 250 festivals a year including the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival September 6. So if you live in Indiana, or one of the neighboring states (Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky or Illinois), don’t let the kids convince you there is nothing to do one weekend.

Iowa
Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling and Dan Gable. ‘Nuff said.

Kansas
If you ever have to drive all night across country, plan your trip to see the sun come up in Kansas. You will thank me.

Kentucky
I always think of The Bluegrass State as being the start of The South. Virginia, Tennessee and the Carolina’s would likely disagree. Kentucky is one of many states whose main city, or even the second largest city, is not the capital city unlike in Canada. ‘What is the capital of Florida?” is always a stumper in Trivial Pursuit. “Tallahassee? Are you kidding me?”
A little Civil War fact; both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were born in Kentucky. The original Odd Couple.

Louisiana
After the Hurricane, I don’t remember a single international effort made to assist flood victims (Canadian’s helped but that’s not the same thing). After every natural disaster across the globe, the US is there with aid, equipment, tools and money, even if a day before there were US flags burning in the street.
In 1973, Canadian broadcaster Gordon Sinclair wrote an editorial in praise of America and critical of it’s detractors for just this situation. Read the transcript here and know you are appreciated.

Maine
Another state with an unexpected capital city: Augusta. Maine is both the easternmost and northernmost state (don’t squawk Alaska, I know how for north you are). Plus it abuts both Quebec and New Brunswick, so there is a pretty strong kinship there.
Maryland
The University of Maryland mascot is the terrapin. Yes it’s unique, but a soft shelled turtle? Surely you can do better.
Cal Ripkin is The Man.

Massachusetts
When I’m rich, I too will vacation with my family in a compound. We will play football and Pictionary and eat popcorn and the beer will always be chilled to point of being nearly frozen. The wireless connection will be stable and lightening fast.
If anyone displeases me, they will be forced from the compound, banished until they can win my favor through a series of trials.

Michigan
As a kid, we’d always enter the US from Windsor at Detroit. Sometimes we’d stop and visit a great-aunt in Birmingham. She had the first TV remote I ever saw. It had only one button to change the stations in an ascending order, but I was hooked.
Michigan is possibly the greatest sports state in the Union. Red Wings, Tigers, Pistons, Lions (?), Wolverines, Spartans. New York and California may have more teams, but Michigan fans are more committed.

Minnesota
The Mississippi river flows right through Minneapolis and St. Paul. I had no idea until I first visited. They don’t mention the Mississippi once on the Mary Tyler Moore show. They might have on “Phyllis” but I didn’t like that show.

Mississippi
I thought it was cool to show off how I knew how to spell Mississippi when I was a kid. However, half the other kids already knew how to spell it and the other half didn’t care and would beat you up for showing off.
Mississippi, I blame my low self-esteem on you.

Missouri
Another M state. You know there are other letters in the alphabet, right? There is no state that begins with B or E. What’s that about? And the conundrums don’t end there. There is a Kansas City in Kansas, but THE Kansas City is in Missouri. St. Louis is the largest city, but Jefferson City is the state capital. You always think of the Mississippi River being the longest river in the US, but the Missouri River actually is and they meet in Missouri.
Missouri, you are like the girl at the office that I can’t figure out if she’s hot or not.

Montana
It’s the name of a state People. Please stop naming your children after it. That goes for Dakota too. Virginia is okay though.

Nebraska
Nebraska is the most fun name to say. Try it. Nebraska. Now say it with an accent. See? I told you it was fun.
Second best university team name: The Corn Huskers. The best alternative university team name: Big Red.

Nevada
Everybody talks about how amazing the Hoover Dam is, but the river diversion effort before they started constructing the dam was an even bigger deal. Life is like that. Rarely does anyone appreciate the effort to lay the foundation to succeed. They only applaud the finished product.
Las Vegas I can take or leave. The desert is beautiful.

New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York
None of these states are new anymore. Isn’t it time we came up with some state names that were unique? That goes for you too New Zealand. And don’t think you are fooling anyone Nova Scotia; that’s just fancy talk for New Scotland. While I’m at it, British Columbia hasn’t been British for a very long time. Columbia is just fine all on it’s own.
New York is a great state and city. Urban and rural, the heart of capitalism. The last year of Yankee Stadium though. Why can’t some things remain unchanged?

Ohio
Slavery was abolished in 1787, before even New York or new Jersey. So way to go Ohio (so sang The Pretenders).

Oklahoma
We went to Oklahoma for Christmas three years ago; why it’s not more of a yuletide destination I’ll never know. My son (then 12) asked to go to “a real American restaurant”, so we went to The Golden Corral. While it is not ‘top end’ cuisine, there we were lots of items he had never had before, and may not see again for a long time: chicken fried steak, collard greens, black eyed peas, corn pone, grits, okra, biscuits and gravy, southern fried chicken etc. I was certainly in heaven.
He returned from his first trip to the buffet with his plate piled with rice and mashed potatoes. Sigh…
If you travel to Oklahoma, go see the Wichita Mountains, Geronimo’s grave at Fort Sill (even though there is debate as to whether he is actually there or not) and the Holy City (I kid you not)


Oregon
Beavers and Ducks! And Nike. And Intel. And Crater Lake National Park.
Oregon’s state capital is not Portland or Eugene, but Salem. Again with the odd state capital.
I received the worst case of sunstroke at a rowing regatta there, but it was my fault for going out on the water without a hat.

Pennsylvania
Another great state with lots going for it, despite the weird Romanian ‘sylvania’ tag. I’ve been to Pittsburg but not Philadelphia. How that happened I can’t understand; it seems backwards.
Tied with Texas for Best University City Name: Happy Valley where you’ll find Penn State.

Rhode Island
It’s not an island. The province of Prince Edward Island is an island. But as the smallest state in the union, good things come in small packages.
Come to think of it, Prince Edward Island is the smallest province in confederation. Rhode Island and Prince Edward Island should play each other in a ‘best of seven’ softball tournament every year. The winner can be declared King of the Little People.

South Carolina
In my mind I’m going to (South) Carolina…
Ahh, that’s better.

Tennessee
Tennessee is the Volunteer State. It’s good to know they are ready for anything.

Texas
I had a friend move down to Austin and he sent me a key chain tag that reads: Don’t Mess With Texas. He meant it as a joke, but I have it on my keys because it seems like good advice. Why would I mess with Texas? Would anyone?
Tied with Pennsylvania for Best University City Name: College Station where you’ll find Texas A&M

Utah
The native Americans were Ute’s. So named the state. Makes sense.
There’s lots going on in Utah, but I can’t seem to get past the whole Mormon thing. My brother-in-law joined the Mormons for a girl he liked. Men do crazy things for women.

Vermont
Apparently it is the leading producer of maple syrup in the US. I can’t help thinking Vermont is muscling in on one of the few things Canada dominates.
Pretty towns and beautiful geography. I haven’t been there in a long time, but I think a trip may be in order. Maybe skiing this winter. Who’s up for that?

Virginia and West Virginia
You two states need to coordinate this. All the North and South States have it figured out, but not the Virginia’s. Unless there is an East Virginia, there should be no West Virginia.
West Virginia is a terrific state: industrious, mountainous, progressive etc. Distinguish yourself from your eastern neighbor with your own name.

Washington
When my wife was pregnant with our second child, we went to visit family in Washington. My aunt insisted on raising the foot rest on the reclining chair to help my wife relax. Despite her pleas that she was fine, my aunt persisted to struggle with the chair’s mechanism, ultimately sticking her hand underneath only to have the levers snap out and take of the tip of her right index finger.
My aunt received a modest amount of compensation from the chair company, even though it was clearly her fault.
We haven’t been back since.

Wisconsin
America’s Dairy heartland. I love seeing the Cheese Heads and the Packers games. Green Bay is the only city in the US with an NFL team, but no other pro sports.

Wyoming
The least populous state in the Union and the only one with all straight borders. The Continental Divide runs right through the middle, so for all you people who believe all rivers flow south just because North is at the top of the map hanging on the wall, well, Wyoming is the division for North American drainage. And that’s pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Like the Pine Trees Lining the Winding Road..."

The Crow Baby has a name, the Crow Baby has a name. (My deepest apologies to Jim Croce but I couldn’t help myself). I hadn't wanted to give the bird a name since that seemed too much like admiting it was a pet.

If you haven’t read Animal Husbandry isn't as Sexy as it Sounds or Bathing the Crow, I’ll let you know we are the proud foster parents of a crow. I hadn’t planned on it being a pet, but like most things in life, that was not in my control. After several weeks of just calling it Crow Baby, we have decided on "Gaston" because he is rude and demanding.

When Gaston is not screaming (in a snooty French accent) for more food, he spends teh remainder of his time engaged in significant personal development activities such as:

Singing,

Film Study, and

Rodeo.

April 3 Update: Just got an update from home. Gaston has developed a fascination with the badminton shuttlecock and is walking around the yard with it clamped tightly in it's beak. He's a birdie with a birdie (you can't make this stuff up!).

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On the Road Again

Yesterday I moved out of the condo I was renting. That was too bad since the kids really liked it there: on the beach, swimming pool, tennis court, 4-hole golf course. Coming to stay with Dad was like a vacation, only with homework and rigorous dental cleanings.

Since my wife and I split up, I have lived in six different places, including my mother-in-law’s house. Surprisingly, that was one of the best set ups. She can’t figure out what’s going on with her daughter; I am gainfully employed, no drug addictions and I have my own hair – What’s the problem?

I am now house-sitting for a friend (with two dogs) over the summer, which will be easier on the bank account (picture an empty, dusty vault occupied by a sad cricket wearing a tattered vest), but I’ll need another place in the fall. If Dan Tanna’s pad from ‘Vega$’ is available, I’d be interested.

Moving provides a unique opportunity to take stock of your life (I wish it wasn’t so frequent, but then I wish tax time wasn’t so frequent). Here are some observations from moving my stuff again:
  • For a guy who does not wear sweaters, I sure have a ton of sweaters
  • Don’t buy magazines – just get them from the library
  • Why does the freezer get dirty? Everything is sealed and frozen for crying out loud
  • No matter how careful you are, you always damage your place a little, but never as much as the landlord claims
  • Too many of my clothes now look like gardening clothes
  • At the rate I use balsamic vinegar, I will be buried with this bottle
  • My 20 year old stereo and speakers are WAY too big
  • My daughter must produce beads the way other people shed skin

I’ll keep you all informed of my progress. In the meantime, click on the Humor Blog banner to the side and raise me up the rankings. For every percentile I move up, I’ll donate a sweater to a good cause.

July 2 Update: many great comments posted so far; you are all very supportive. You have confirmed my belief that we have too much stuff and we are compelled to box it all up and drive it around every few years.