Friday, October 15, 2010

Back To Work

So I haven't posted in forever. I no longer have the free time of an international man of leisure. I have a job. It's been about seven years since I stopped working as a designer for Verizon and started being a stay at home dad and I'm pretty happy to be working again. About a million years ago I helped turn a 45 year old stationary store in Chestnut Hill into a destination toy store: no easy feat. Now I'm back, and I really love it. Gone are the empty hours during the day that I tried to fill with housework and other "fulfilling" activities, gone is the forced smalltalk of the play date, gone are the cliquey moms at the playground. Eat my dust.

I never realized how much time I spent trying to convince myself that being a stay at home dad was fulfilling until I started working and had blissfully little time to think about anything. Truth be told, there's no real fulfillment in being a stay at home parent, it's great to be around for your kids and all, but mostly it's tedious. No wonder so many stay at home moms drink. And some do drink, even on play dates and during birthday parties. No one on the face of the earth can begrudge them that, there's only so much "look at me! look at this! see my gum? see it?" you can take without having something to help you avoid a voluntary lobotomy.

I'm only working about 23 hours a week, but I'm buying toys, merchandising toys and marketing toys and events. What's not to like? I'm still on dad duty during the week, breakfast, clothes, pack lunches out the door, pick the kids up, meet buses and make dinner. In between I get to have work, doing something I like with people over the age of seven. My kids are great and I love them but ALL kids can be a giant pain in the ass if your exposure levels are too high. It's in their nature; they're narcissists and all narcissists are annoying. Toy reps and customers can be a pain in the ass but I'm not required to love them, wipe their noses or fawn over their every doodle.

Some people truly love staying home with their kids and I have the highest respect for them but I really don't know how they keep it together. Seven years almost killed me. I feel like Papillon floating away on his coconut raft.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A few words about multiple sclerosis

It fucking blows. I actually have a few more words about MS. I've had it for a little over 20 years and for the most part have been in the "closet" about it. When I was 23 I went to a New Years Eve party at a nice hotel with friends, drank a lot of booze and did some drugs. The next morning I was numb in all of my extremities and tripping over my tongue. I went to the ER and they told me I was drunk. Fair enough. Within a week my entire right side was paralyzed and I was in the hospital for a week. I was eventually diagnosed as having had a stroke and accepted that. As freakish as it is to have a stroke at 23 it was a hell of a lot better than the alternatives.

Over the next few years I started taking better care of myself. I quit smoking, started eating healthier and started running. I kept running for about seven years, even finished a half marathon. The whole time I had bizarre symptoms, numb fingers, double vision, toe paralysis. I'm not a fucking idiot - I knew I had MS but I just didn't want the confirmation. By the time I was 30 I was tired all the time, having regular flare ups, and a fiance who wanted to know what was happening and what it meant for our future. Looking back I can see that I was being selfish by hiding from the diagnosis - giving myself short term comfort instead of a long term plan.

Finally at around the age of thirty I decided to get diagnosed and see if there was anything I could do about the flare ups and the fatigue. Diagnosis means a spinal tap, which is pretty scary just to imagine. I lay on a cold gurney in a hospital hallway I watched the doctor prepare the six inch needle she was about to insert into my spine thinking "this is what it means to be sick". Oona drove me home, lying in the back of our crappy car flinching with every turn and imaging the air bubble travelling up my spine to my brain and killing me. We waited a week to find out, me in Mt. Airy and Oona in Ohio where she'd had to go for work. I went into the office and was told what I already knew. Already knowing didn't change the crushing sadness. My neurologist then listed all of the possible diagnosis that were so much worse that I didn't have - lupus, brain tumor - which was nice but didn't help at all. Thankfully she was able to tell me that with the history of my symptoms she was confident that I had relapsing remitting MS - which is exactly what it sounds like. As far as MS diagnoses go, RRMS is the best case and most common. Small comfort at the time. She told me about all of her success stories like the 80 year old guy who takes boy scouts camping. She did her best to buoy me but I felt like I was experiencing every single symptom I'd ever had right at that moment.

I started doing research into the disease, and reading every book I could get my hands on. I'd mark this as the biggest mistake I ever made. I became convinced that I'd never live a normal life. I was certain to end up bed-ridden or at the very least in a wheelchair. I knew - without a doubt - that my life was over. I sank into a pretty major depression while treating the MS through mainstream medicine.

Treatment for MS means one of three medicines, all of which you have to inject subcutaneously (right below the skin). I used a drug called Copaxone for a few years and was still having flare ups on top of getting to stick a needle in my leg every day. The flare ups meant an intravenous course of steroids over three days with varying degrees of success. MS sucks and it costs a shit load of money. It was beginning to feel like voodoo because none of the medications changed anything - the point of them is to hold the MS at bay and to keep it from getting worse, not fixing what's already wrong.

I decided to go off the grid, stop thinking about MS, stop talking about MS and stay away from people with MS. Crazy right? Apparently not. Over the last seven years I've had two flare ups and bounced back fairly well from both. I think it helps that I slowed my life down a little by staying home with the kids instead of working full time. Yes, I know how lucky I am to be able to do that.

The thing with MS is that it's different for everyone, like a snowflake, a shitty, shitty snowflake. For some like me it's mostly an annoyance. I get very tired sometimes and the roulette wheel of symptoms is hard to live with because you can never prepare. For others it's a nightmare, a slow descent into a wheelchair or worse. The bottom line is that you can have a major effect on the course of your MS. A positive attitude, exercise, diet and enough rest can do a lot in addition to or independent of a medical course of treatment.

One piece of advice to the recently diagnosed- stay away from the literature and "medical" websites, they paint a bleak worst-case scenario and will scare the living shit out of you. Stay positive and don't be afraid to try things even if they're something people with MS shouldn't be able to do. Since my diagnosis I've run 5ks, danced at weddings (drunk), hiked up and down mountains, played street hockey, freeze tag, soccer - you name the kid game I've played it.

Just keep moving and living. If you have to take a knee people will understand.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


So I'm staring down the barrel of my 44th birthday, past middle age and cruising towards death. I feel like all that's left is trying to not be a hairy eared old man telling the same anecdotes over and over again. I don't want to become totally irrelevant. Let's face it, the only old men who aren't irrelevant are the very smart, the very rich or the very funny. I'm kind of funny but mostly I'm fucked.

I decided to do a little research - looking into what successful people were doing at 44. But what fields of success to look at? Honestly I'm a pretty shallow person so philosophers, writers, scientists and political figures were out of the question. That pretty much left celebrities.

When researching celebrities at 44 do NOT look at rock stars; you will start looking for a building tall enough to jump out of without the risk of just getting paralyzed. Mick Jagger? Dirty Work. Sure it went platinum but it sucked platinum ass. Pete Townshend? The Iron Man Musical, hated by grownups and children alike. (ok, I'm Not Going To Run Anymore was good) David Bowie? Two words - Tin Machine. Springsteen released two albums on the same day, Lucky Town and Human Touch, both were universally ignored so they just stuck him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to distract him. Lou Reed? Became a Honda Spokesman and performed at Farm Aid to a generously luke warm reception. So where to look? Professional athletes? F-that, you get hailed as an iron man for being able to walk after 40.

I realized that what I was looking for wasn't about accomplishments or notoriety, it was about the half way point actually being half way. I was looking for hope that there was more to come, perhaps even something fun or exciting. So I looked to the people I know could give me hope - A-list Hollywood actors.

At the age of 44 Paul Newman had just released Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. He still had The Sting, Slap Shot and The Verdict ahead of him. At 44 Clint Eastwood released High Plains Drifter which he directed and starred in, still ahead for Clint? Four Dirty Harry movies, Escape From Alcatraz and The Unforgiven which brought him his first Oscar at the age of 64. Max Von Sydow did the Exorcist at 44 and would go on to appear in almost 90 more movies.

At 44 Samuel L. Jackson was still a year away from the release of Pulp Fiction, Viggo Mortenson was Aragorn in The Fellowship of the Ring. Although both had been around for a while many would cite these films as career breakouts. Hope! There it was. Yes, I know that I'm just another schlub who won't do anything spectacular. I'm cool with that. It's not about fame or fortune, it's about how these guys kept going into middle age or reinvented their careers. I just need to find a spark to do something interesting or fun with the second half of my life.

NOTE- All celebrity ages at time of said accomplishments are guesstimates based on birthdays and release dates. Could be way off so don't quote me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

a word about stay at home dads

Today was "Camp Olympics" day: children dressed all in either green or blue while the parents wore the same color as their child to show support. In a line of about twenty cars there is one car wrapped in green crepe paper with green balloons and a giant "Green rocks!!!" sign in the back window. When I see this kind of "look at what a great parent I am" behavior, the sexist in me thinks it's a bored housewife looking for something to talk about. When the car rounded a curve I was shocked to see a dude, a dude wearing douche-bag wrap around sunglasses trying to ruin shit for other stay at home dads.

Since I've been a S.A.D. for the last seven years it's been great to see our numbers swell, it's a sign that the lines that shouldn't even exist are getting blurred. Women who would rather have a career now have an option other than daycare, fathers now have an chance to be a bigger part of their children's lives and men who have been laid off or downsized to feel less emasculated and know that they're providing a valuable service to their family. So why are some dads trying to fuck this up?

Gentlemen, we stand at a great turning point in American cultural history. We can shape the future of the stay at home dad. So no more fucking baby talk! No more rolling luggage bags full of supplies for a trip to the playground! STOP OVERCOMPENSATING!!!!! Kick back and watch how the moms do it, they've got a cultural collective of experience and know how it's done. I can't believe I'm saying we need to look to the housewife to learn to be cool but we do. They pack exactly what they need, no more, no less. They praise and discipline their children without being all up in their grill -- and in a normal voice, they talk to other adults or read and apply sunblock. Mission accomplished.

Almost every stay at home dad I see at the pool or playground is overly engaged in "playing" with their kids. Not only is this annoying to watch, it robs your kids of the opportunity to meet and play with other kids. And speaking in a high pitched voice doesn't bridge some sort of communications gap with your child -- it just makes you sound like a guy who's trying to do a hilarious "gay" voice at a party. Stop it. When you sit in the kiddy pool splashing with your five year old you look more like a pedophile than a good dad. So knock it the hell off, talk to a grown up, read a book or play solitaire on your phone, look up when they yell "hey dad" and wave or give a thumbs up, if they need a push on the swings go do it, but if you start swinging on the seat next to theirs I swear to god I will KILL you. Seriously, I will do it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Valuable Awards

So father's day came and went and I'm apparently still a father. Not that I didn't expect to be but I thought there might be some kind of "Get out of fathering for a day" card or something. The day after father's day it was back to the lunch packing, bus stop walking, feigning interest world of the stay at home dad. It's not easy pretending everything your child does, says or makes is super awesome, but I do it. It's not easy packing a lunch that won't get eaten because it was squished or gross, but I do. It's not easy refereeing every fight, misunderstanding and insult fest, but I do. I'm actually thinking of driving to the Home Depot and buying a shitload of plexiglass, brackets, hinges and a bench to build my own penalty box. They can sit there and think about what they've done while they watch me play video games, drink tequilla and smoke cigarettes.

My son got an "award" at the end of the school year for being such a good kid. The award? A free kids meal at Chili's®. For real? Are you fucking kidding me? So of course he wants to use his valuable award for father's day. A little bit about what kind of a food snob I am: I think food is mostly a pain in the ass necessity, so if I'm going to a restaurant it better be really fucking good. Chili's is not really fucking good, it's not fucking good nor is it even just good. A Chili's coupon is a lot like the "Small Fry" thing that the Sixers do, a shitty prize that your kid won't let go and forces you to go to culinary hell. Really a coupon for a free small fries at McDonalds? Why not just hammer a nail into my forehead for a "prize".

So I spent my father's day at Chili's thanks to the Cheltenham School District. Five grand a year in school taxes and I'm sitting in Chili's. Bastards. I hate prizes, they ALWAYS inconvenience me in some way. Free museum tickets? I still have to actually go and it always costs me at the stupid gift shop. Anything free with purchase is just another thing for kids to fight over. The only prize I want is a hot dog from the Fanatic's air canon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fellow Travelers

I love watching people travel. It's a fascinating state of the human condition and a free perk when traveling. I tend to think of myself as a relaxed, reserved and observant traveler but I'm sure other travelers have a category for people like me, maybe "creepy guy who won't stop staring at me" or "don't make eye contact". I have my categories because they make make it easier to dehumanize people and judge them, laugh at them or marvel at them with no guilt.

It's amazing to me how people tend to fall so easily into their categories. The guys with monogram cufflinks and bluetooth headset? Always speaking at top volume in a condescending voice to someone who's existence is questionable at best. The Southern guys with the polo shirt, wrap around shades and sunburn? Always smiling, always. What the fuck are you smiling about? You have painful looking sunburn. When this guy finally says something so riotously funny that he needs to flip his shades up and wipe away the tears of hilarity, he invariably has pure white circles around his eyes.

I really like the bohemian twenty somethings with the overpriced REI backpack, organic hats and sandals. They take traveling very seriously. I bet they never freeze their asses off when they get off a plane 800 miles to the North because they wore shorts and a t-shirt. Some travelers I kind of fear like the middle aged, tightly wound and slightly attractive business woman. She's smiling on the outside, but I get the idea that she would slice, skewer and feed me to the tiger she's hiding in her carry on if I even remotely got in her way. Then there's her opposite number: the over thirty, overweight and childishly dressed woman in the Pooh Bear sweatshirt. I call her the Chunky Brewster.

My favorites are the anomalies, the ones that I can't glibly file into a category and laugh at. These travelers are not the sweet old couple going wherever the hell they've always dreamed of or the college kids traveling together to some enviable, boozy destination, no these are the people who come to the airport in all of their quirky individuality. Which brings me to.......

My wife and I were in the Chicky & Pete's (I know) at the Philadelphia airport when a young African American traveler sidles up to the bar holding a very large, very sparkly silver cup with rhinestone (or diamond, who knows?) lettering. We dubbed him Pimp Cup. Pimp Cup proceeds to order a double Hennessy with ginger ale, which the bartender served him in a pint glass. He proceeded to pour it into his pimp cup. Amidst the giggles from the staff and wide eyed stares from the tourists and business class he leaned back, smiled and took a big sip.

I hope Pimp Cup had a great trip.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Baltimore...

Today we visited you, Baltimore. I have some suggestions and criticisms. First and foremost? Your aquarium, the crown jewel of your Inner Harbor, is second rate thanks to the Camden Aquarium. Yes, you have a LOT of sharks and rays but so does every other aquarium; Camden has hippos for Christ's sake, not to mention the coolest jellyfish exhibit ever. You guys need a new "money shot" - the rainforest is an impressive structure but it has about four birds and some crickets. Woo hoo. Most aquariums are letting you touch shit now, sharks, mantas and starfish can be "pet" at any self respecting aquarium. Lastly, you have too many big brown and grey fish, they come in crazy colors you know...

Where to begin with the rest of the day? I'll start with the overpriced seafood restaurant. I won't say which restaurant because they're all a little overpriced for the average food you get. This one charged too much and had no AC on a 90º day, so that by the time your waiter got there with your food he was drenched in sweat. Tasty.

Then we get to the "Historic Ships in Baltimore," which has a very cool submarine tour. I love a good sub tour. I have to say that it was pretty awesome to sit on a torpedo like Slim Pickins in Dr. Strangelove. Even if I wasn't really supposed to. My only criticisms are these: In this day and age you can air condition any enclosed structure, even a submarine. Your sub smells like old people and wet dogs.

Well, after a super fun day we wanted ice cream. Our first try was the Historic Ships snack bar, we waited in line only to learn that they were out of EVERYTHING. So across to the markets we go to find ice cream and are pleased to find a Ben and Jerry's. We wait in line for some smoothies and ice cream. When we order we're told that there's no ice (really Baltimore? No ice in your ICE cream stores?) so they can't make smoothies. Ok, fine. When we order our various ice cream treats we're told there is no ice cream. Why the fuck was the guy in the stupid hat even standing there? Why Baltimore? Why? So off we go to a convenience store where we get some Jack n Jill shit from a cooler and eat it outside watching smooth jazz musicians wilt in the blazing heat. Surreal.

Parking was no better. We entered on Gay street and exited on Lombard to make our way to the aquarium. When we went to get our car we tried to enter on Gay Street. NO. We went to Lombard with confidence high. NO. Turns out we needed to go to Market street to re-enter the garage and get our car. What the fuck Baltimore?

We parked on the "Manatee" level and when we got in the elevator there were buttons for every fucking fish and sea mammal ever. But not the manatee. Twilight fucking zone. We flag down a friendly garage employee patrolling in his golf cart (really, Baltimore?) who tells us there is NO manatee level. But then he pauses to think, "......oh you mean the M level? That's one flight down" Every goddamn button in the elevator had a stupid picture of a stupid fish. The manatee? A letter M.

So Baltimore, next time I think I'll try Hartford or maybe Dover, home of tax free shopping.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


This winter had it's way with my roof, hard. My insurance company couldn't come out for two weeks and I thought that was outrageous. I had no idea. Roofers: holy shit. I had several roofers come and look at my roof and none of them sent me an estimate. My bedroom was becoming a rainforest and my concerns about our frame rotting were keeping me up at night.

Three and a half very high stories and a 90º pitch were part of the problem. When you're drowning in jobs why would you take a tough one?

So up I went. My ladder would get me up to the first floor so I had to figure something out. That meant building a cantilever out from my bedroom window, and by cantilever I mean an old cabinet door with 100 pounds of iron weight plates on one end with a bookshelf to hold it up to the window. Safety first... My bedroom window has some fancy woodwork around the top that looked pretty sturdy so I hung on to that while I tried to throw my rope over the roof. I imagined that the rope itself, rolled up, would give me the heft I needed to get it over the roof. Stupid. I ended up tying a rubber mallet to the rope and throwing it over. Note - if you plan on doing this, tie it tight. By the time I got back upstairs with the mallet that had sailed over the roof I had figured that out. Having gotten the rope over the roof, I pulled it in through my opposing bedroom window. I couldn't find anything to tie it to so I remembered some Three Stooges physics and tied it to my doorknob.

Go time. I dragged my safety belt out of the basement , filled one pocket with tacks and another with a brush and a putty knife. With some carabiners I hooked up my roof cement and a sack of shingles. I now weighed 75 more and worried about my cantilever holding me. I didn't adjust it, I just worried. Safety first. I began my ascent of mount Holy Shit These Shingles Are Hot by using the rope to climb up until I sat on the peak of my roof. It was really fucking high.

I descended the other side of the roof where the shingles were gone and got to work. The first thing I did was watch my gallon of cement roll down the roof because I didn't check the carabiner. By the time I got back up it was a thousand degrees hotter. The actual work was tedious and difficult and I only had to make two trips to get shit that I dropped, but let me tell you about roof cement.

Roof cement is a malignant substance that multiplies and spreads exponentially over your body and through the simple act of moving your door and window frames, walls, pillow case and floor. My arms were black, my jeans ruined and my work gloves were stuck to the roof. Four showers later there's still patches of black on my arms and ankles. My son asked if a dab of it on the glass panel of the front door was poop, I said no it's roof cement. He asked why it was on the door if it was roof cement.

So now we wait. It's supposed to storm tonight and I'm on pins and needles. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have returned from Nashville with a sense of pride. I'm proud of myself for not buying cowboy boots. For some uncanny reason being in Nashville made me want to buy a pair of boots that I'd never wear, not even if I was on a horse which is unlikely because I fucking hate horses. It almost seemed as though buying boots was an integral part of the whole Nashville experience, like dressing like one of the Village People would somehow make me a little bit honky tonk.

Honkey tonk is one of those things you might say out loud but boy does it look stupid written down, and it's written all over the place in Nashville. There are cool things to do in Nashville, there's Hatch Show Prints, a very unique print shop with a very distinct artistic style. Nashville also has one of the finest vintage guitar shops I've ever seen and the Ernest Tubbs record shop is like a shrine and gift shop all rolled up with a pretty good record shop. The bars on Broadway all have live music pouring out of them and the smell of BBQ is fantastic.

All of this conspired to drive me into a boot shop where the smell of leather is fantastic and earthy. To be honest though, cowboy boots just look retarded on the shelf, making one imagine how horrible they'd look on. I wear sneakers, maybe a dress shoe when I need to or hiking boots in the winter but 97% of the time it's sneakers. I would look and feel like a douchtard wearing big boots with a big heel. I left the shops on Broadway with nothing but a nice t-shirt, really proud of myself.

Happy to be up north now, away from chicken n' dumplings, Waffle Houses and overt friendliness that kind of gives me the heebie jeebies.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


When did auto makers high and low decide that most people want to drive a car shaped like a fried dumpling? BMW 3 & 5 class? Dumplings. Civic, Accord? Dumplings. Focus, Taurus? Dumplings. Mercedes C, E and S class? Dumplings. It goes on and on. Camry? The dumpling king.


It seems to me that auto makers on every continent are making cars that may be fuel efficient, may be fun drive and may be safe but all look alike. Why pay 60 Gs for a BMW dumpling when you can get the Hyundai knock off for 25? Most manufacturers have a show pony, Nissan has the Cube, (stop giggling it's at least different) Toyota has their cool Scion line and Ford has it's Mustang, but for the most part it's a yawning festival.

I'm not talking Maserati, Lotus or Ferrari, just cars you really see on the street. When I see a new Dodge Challenger or a Ford Mustang I feel like the American muscle car is still alive and well. When I see someone driving a Mazda RX-8 or a Volvo C30 or even a Mini I'm happy to see people choosing a speedy, speedy looking car with fun handling. The Scion XD and the Honda Element work for someone looking outside the minivan or SUV. Even the new Camaro is kind of cool.

Epic fail time. Some manufacturers TRY do something different and fail but deserve honorable mention- Chrysler's PT Cruiser, Nissan's Cube, the Dodge Charger and the Prius. Thanks for trying.

By the way, the Smart Car is the new punchbuggy. We say "Blue Smartpunch no punchbacks" I''m winning so far.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You know what kills me?

What kills me is that when disaster strikes I'm wildly inconvenienced and all I end up with is a basic essential. Not a shiny new toy.

This winter we received nine million cubic yards of snow on our roof. Trees fell and then we got hit with (I'm embarrassed to call it this) a major nor'easter. The result of which was a rainforest in our bedroom. Then it rained for weeks while the insurance companies scrambled the troops to get adjusters out. Now we wait for the check and the roofer to finally get out here.

I never wanted a water feature in my bedroom, a fireplace maybe, but not eight buckets being filled one noisy drip at a time. One night we were awoken by a shift in the dripping pattern that put our bed at the epicenter of the dripstorm.

So we've chopped the downed trees, emptied buckets, tarped and cleaned. For what? A new roof. Jesus Christ we had a fucking roof! Now we get to bask in the warm glow of a new, warrantied roof. Something I guess, but we did have a roof. When I suffer I feel like I deserve a reward. Totally crazy. But I do. Really.

I don't really want anything at the moment, maybe a new amplifier, maybe a drum kit? I was thinking about one of those cool Thule roof boxes for my Mini or a Japanese Maple for the lawn? I'm a little all over the place but you get the idea. Compensation? Maybe that's it, I feel like the insurance company owes me a vacation or a new patio set or even just some Flyers tickets for not being remotely prepared to provide the necessary aid I needed. I'm prepared to pay their premium every month, year after year and the one time we need them they have their backhand to the forehead like Scarlett O'Hara because they're so (insert southern accent) "very very overwhelmed with this catastrophe".

Think I just lost all of the Karma points from my last post.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Retraction

After a few depressing weeks of rain I'm starting to appreciate the "Mini Wave". If you combine the wave with a smile it really brightens your day, even for a minute. The standard wave at least is a little like a "Hi There".

Having cynically disparaged the mini wave in a previous blog I have to say something I rarely say. I was wrong. It's a little less about the car than it is about a chance to smile and wave at someone. Sometimes it's a pretty woman, I'm happily married, but it still really brightens a middle aged man's day.

There's still a little factioning between the Mini, Mini S and the Clubman but for the most part it's all good. Any excuse to smile and wave to someone has to be a good thing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Big Heads

So if you're in a hurry and you're stuck behind a guy with a big head, you're fucked. As soon as you see him you should try to change lanes, make a detour, or just surrender to a slow ride. For some reason, and I have done my research, older men with large heads tend to drive in a self satisfied, belligerent, slow motion. They seem to take pride in making you miss a light or spend a brief purgatorial lifetime while they let everyone and their grandmother merge.

You want to make it exponentially worse? Put a fucking hat on that big head; it will inevitably have the name of a battleship on it that gives the driver a "greatest generation" right to ruin your commute. Fuck you, Spielberg and Hanks.

The car is always some big American piece of crap: Grand Marquee, Ford 500, Crown Vic, Chrysler 300 or whatever hoopty floats their boat. Want to just make it the worst thing ever? It's own ring in hell? Slap some handicapped plates on that big tan, white or grey rolling old folks home. When they turn, they turn two lanes wide, why the hell not, that's what it's there for. They never signal when making a right hand turn. NEVER.

The best part? They have no idea how they're eating your time. If you let them know? They'll make it worse. THEY HAVE NOWHERE TO GO. They don't care. They have all day, it's their dime. They're not all old, some are old men in training, they're even worse because they can't blame it on senility or lowered motor skills, they just suck. Not only am I fighting it, I'm ranting about it.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back on the Scooter thing

Today was the first truly beautiful day in a long horrible winter, the motorcycle goons were out in force, all of them noisy, inconsiderate, poorly dressed and screaming "look at me!" while completely ignoring all traffic laws. Today reminded me of how much I want a scooter, a cool and quiet little scooter. Operating a two wheeled open air motor-vehicle is thrilling, the closeness to the road, the cliched wind in your face, the throttle as opposed to a gas pedal. It's all fun and a little dangerous.

Dangerous. That's me all over, a total desperado, that's why I want a light blue scooter. I may not even wear a helmet, that's how badass I am. I may hit 40 MPH while shouting "Ciao!" at people I don't care for.

I have no practical reason for wanting one; I just think it would be fun. I'll tell my wife that I can use it for those trips to the store when you only need a few things, I'll promise my daughter that she can ride on it, LIES all lies. I'll ride it around on sunny days while the kids are in school or at camp, for NO GOOD REASON and I'll do it alone. It'll be awesome. And I might take my wife on it if we're going out to dinner locally, that'd be fun but mostly it's about me.
Me getting coffee, me going somewhere sunny to read a book, me just tooling around. ME ME ME. Ciao bitches.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Idea of Fun

Saturday morning, coffee, New Yorker, Facebook and a gallon of white paint spilled on the kitchen floor.

One of the things I really hate about dogs is how they point out your shortcomings. Had I used a hammer to close the paint can it wouldn't have spilled when the Dogtard knocked it over. The thing is that I rarely have a hammer handy when I paint, to close the lid I use the butt of the screwdriver that I used to open it. Hammering the lid would mean walking all the way to the basement for a hammer that I will forget to put away. So my laziness is the root cause but the Pit Bull is the catalyst?

Regardless of who's to blame (the dog) my quiet kitchen morning became an instant cluster fuck. Dog knocks over can, runs away, wife goes to get coffee and POW everyone is running for towels, mop and a squeegee. I just had to look up the spelling of squeegee; who ever writes that word? It takes roughly a half hour for three people to clean up a gallon of paint, including the lifting of the fridge to get the squeegee under it.

We had a kitchen chair that needed priming so naturally I had my daughter use the remaining puddle of paint to do it. After cleaning up we let the dog out of her crate and she instantly went rubbing under the chair for the gold in the counterintuitive olympics. She's spotted now, it's the stupid dog version of the scarlet letter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Pets Allowed Sign

Right? I mean it, I really don't like domestic animals. Not in some curmudgeonly way or a "look at me, I'm so edgy I hate animals" way, I simply derive no pleasure from the company of animals. I currently have two dogs and a cat living with me, I dislike all three of them. They're dumb as shit but I'm supposed to attribute a personality to them as though they're sentient beings. Seriously? They eat, crap and fuck shit up and sometimes I even get to stand in the rain watching them drop a load and THEN I get to pick it up! I get, on a regular basis, to feel warm animal crap through a plastic bag.

I don't hate animals, to the contrary I enjoy a visit to the zoo, am pleased to see a hawk or some other bird flying around in the SKY where it belongs, I just don't want them in my house. My wife loves dogs, my daughter loves her cat, my boys are completely indifferent and I'm stuck with pets. I'm stuck picking up dog shit, having my leather furniture scratched and generally afraid to have company over because I have two four legged, hyperactive mammals with A.D.D . and no concept of personal space. Not to mention that one of the two fucktards is a puppy who's too stupid to not eat glass. GLASS for Christ's fucking sake. What the hell?

They know I hate them. They show no happiness upon my arrival, sometimes they even bark. Assholes. I don't pet them or talk to them, it excites them and makes them put their moist noses and mouths on me. Pure torture. Sometimes they run away, that's always fun, driving around the neighborhood calling for a dog that I secretly wish I'll never see again. Their complete inability to speak or understand human talk pisses me off, I say "no! don't puke on the rug, do it on the hardwood!", they puke on the rug. Stupid fucking idiots. I say "I hate you and wish you would leave", they wag their stupid tails like jackasses. Not even trying.

Where many creatures have a brain, my dogs have one of those little cups on a stick that you try to land the ball on the string in. It's like when they're thinking about following a command I can visualize them trying to get the ball in the cup. Sometimes they get the ball in the cup and do what they're supposed to, most of the time they just do something retarded or worse just stand there staring at you with their 100% intelligence free eyes. Why the fuck do I have dogs!?!?!?

If you haven't stopped reading because you love "pets" or just hate the F word, I tell you this- When these miserable creatures go off to their great reward there will be NO replacements. Not even fish. I will have rugs free of dog and cat hair, a crap free yard and most importantly the freedom to do whatever the hell I want to without worrying about an animal. Top of the food chain! top of the food chain.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Let's Talk About The Mini Wave

So I love my Mini. I haven't exactly kept that a secret; I'm just not ready for the social responsibility that comes along with it.

When I bought my car I had no idea that I would be expected to wave to every other Mini owner as I pass them. It would be one thing if most drivers just didn't do it but they do. Easily 90% of the Mini drivers I pass do some variety of the wave. Most tend to stick to the two finger variation of the Cub Scout salute; some just a casual "I'm almost too cool to do this" wave without taking the hand from the steering wheel; some actually use the "hang loose" surfer wave, and once I even got the heavy metal devil horns.

Back when there were only a few Minis on the road this might have been fun, but the truth is that there are tons on road. They're everywhere. I love looking at the different models and how people customize theirs, the different color and stripe combinations. To me it's a really aesthetically pleasing vehicle. I also love driving mine; it's the most fun I've ever had driving, and I guess other Mini drivers love that aspect of the car as well.

So, aesthetic appreciation and the assumed love of driving a handley little car suggests that Mini drivers have so much in common that we should wave to each other as if we're all casual friends? Am I just a curmudgeon? Maybe, but I'm only going to wave when trapped. Once I've made eye contact or if I'm stuck across from another one at a red light, that's trapped and I'll wave then.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The British Virgin Islands

This picture is from a real estate company's web site, selling the property in the lower right hand corner, the one with the dock. I want it, maybe not in the long run, but I want it right now. If I had it right now I wouldn't be sitting in my kitchen with two feet of snow on the ground and more falling, bored out of my mind while my kids play video games. Every once and a while I get up and go outside to see if it's more fun than inside, it's not, it's a frozen hell.

I don't sail, I'm a fair to crappy swimmer, the sun makes me a little itchy and I'm not super crazy about sand, but right now I'd like to be sitting on the end of that dock, drinking a Corona and throwing projectiles (rocks, shells, ashtrays) into the water. Maybe do a little snorkeling over near that dark patch on the middle left side of the picture, looks like it might be interesting. After that I'd probably wish I had cable t.v. (not available) and read a book, by now I'm ready for a nap. You get the idea.

According to the realtors the house, "green land" and the dock are yours but the water and beach belong to the British government. At least I wouldn't have to worry about maintaining the beach.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mac Book Pro

The dog ate my computer. Not all of it, just the upper right corner of it, my once 13 inch monitor has been reduced to an eight inch screen. An eight inch screen would rock if the rest of the computer were maybe nine inches.

We have a new puppy, a little black pit bull, she's sweet, great with kids and good with other dogs. But puppies are puppies and the minute you turn your back they will ruin something expensive, it's their "thing" and I should have known better than to leave my laptop on a table.

So now I'm faced with a $300 dollar repair bill so I can actually see some of the VERY IMPORTANT things on the right side of the screen. It's ok with the internet, just make a tiny window (thanks dog) but with things like iTunes or any other non internet software I'm pretty much screwed. (F-You Dog)

Instead of getting it repaired the wheels started turning; my wife wanted to bring the dog into our home, so it's sort of her fault right? So for my horrible trials trying to shrink everything to fit my screen I think I deserve an upgrade as compensation.

So I want a Mac Book Pro, I want it shiny and chrome and fast. If I had a lawyer he'd totally file for replacement plus pain and suffering.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


So I love my car, LOVE, it's the most super fun car I've ever driven. So when my favorite shoe company starts making Mini inspired shoes I need them.

Then I find out that I can get a watch that looks like the Flava Flave speedometer in my car? Want it.
The problem is that I have something called a wife, who seems to have some sense of "taking thing too far".

This alleged "sense" has prevented me from executing some really great ideas; putting a Santa on the roof? "tacky", El Camino? "tacky", Bench seating in the dining room? "weird", Peter Fonda's easy rider jacket? "tacky". I'm with stupid t-shirt? "stupid". I guess she thinks she's helping.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cork Floor

When my wife and I bought our house it had nice (if a little soft) hardwood floors throughout, except for the room we spend 90% of our time in. The family room came with cheap berber that was already pretty old, because the room is a 70s era addition the carpet sits on top of a linoleum floor that sits on some plywood on top of a cement slab. We need new flooring in the room, not carpet or hardwood that doesn't match the rest of the house, so I started looking at bamboo and cork, fell in love with cork.

Once we decided on cork I started looking into installation and was pretty pleased. In our old house we installed 3/4 inch hardwood, pain-in-the-ass. I hate jobs that require me to rent tools, not just because it's expensive, but because I have to learn how to use it while the meter's running, stresses me out. The other drawback to hardwood is that most of your planks will be slightly warped and you will need to will them to conform to what we humans call "straight". There's also a tremendous amount of cutting to do, a lesson in margin of error.

Cork is pretty easy if everything I've read is true, snap together, adhere with mastic; the hardest part will be preparing and curing the plywood. The finishes are beautiful, cork wears better and looks more "organic" than hardwood, so I'm psyched to get started.

Check back in a few months and I'll have some results to post. I know it's not exactly materialism but I really want a shiny new floor.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another pair of Tigers

I go through shoe phases, I'm way too lazy to switch things up so I wear the same type of shoe every day. I went through a long period of Merrells in the winter, Tevas in the summer, then there was a short lived Adidas Samba period, then back to Merrells. Then I bought a pair of Converse low tops, I used to wear the high tops when I was younger, turns out the low tops are a little more grown up. When I first put my All-Stars on they felt like the PF-Flyers I wore for my six month stint in public school, boxy, flat and totally unsupportive. Once they broke in my long Converse period began, until I got a pair of these Tigers. I hadn't worn Tigers since I started running in my 20s, then they changed to Asics and were strictly running with no side of style.

My new Tigers are awesome, they're low profile, (when you're small and skinny you don't want big shoes) comfortable and I can break into a run if I need to chase my dog or children. So I have a black pair but can't wear them with brown cords or khakis, so I guess I need the same shoe in olive.

I think I'll replace my stinky Tevas with my low top chucks this summer, switch it up a little. I'm crazy like that.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


So many times a day I see something beautiful, strange or just interesting and want to capture it. My iPhone actually takes a decent picture if I stand completely still, my 5 megapixel digital camera takes worse pictures than my phone and is even slower. Speed is very important when it comes to capturing things that are moving or if I'm moving when shooting.

I don't care that much about the advanced features of an SLR, I just want speed and a significant amount of zoom capabilities. Being able to adjust the aperture, flash and shutter speed will be fun to play with but really I just want something that shoots straight, reliably and fast. I want the camera equivalent of the Walther P9 Automatic that Bond carried.

I don't want to spend thousands on a camera, seriously I'd feel pretty stupid carrying around a three thousand dollar piece of equipment to take a picture of a neat bridge or some stuff some teenagers piled up under it to have somewhere to drink. That's the kind of stuff I like to shoot, things and people in slightly unusual settings or poses. I'd like to get the best one I can for under $800. The Nikon D40 fits my needs pretty well and is very affordable.

Pictures like this-

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Home Woodworking Shop

I'm a little tired of buying crappy furniture from Ikea only to be frustrated by the pictograph instructions and then further frustrated by the piece's inevitable wobbly decent into broken. I also know that my front porch is going to need some serious repairs this spring and I'm too cheap to hire someone.

I have 90% of the tools needed to have a functioning home woodworking shop, 90% of the know how for building things and 0.5% of the discipline to organize everything and keep it that way.

It would be great to have the wherewithal to simply build and finish the odd piece of furniture I need to fill gaps like that strange corner that could use a table but nothing fits, a t.v. stand that fits the size and aesthetic of our family room or even knowing that when I install new butcher block counters and fix the porch I'll have everything I need at hand.

So even though I could build myself a good work bench, install pegboard to hang tools, maybe a small lumber storage area and some storage cabinets I guess what I'm really after is the discipline to do it. When I work on a project around the house I always leave tools scattered around and forget to put them back with the rest of the tools; great when you go to hang a picture and find your hammer sitting on a bureau where you left it, but not so great when you go to the basement and can't find it because it's on said bureau.

Last night my wife discovered that the bathtub drain has been leaking and dripping down on the kitchen ceiling causing a pretty big hole when she drained the tub. Today I'll fix the plumbing, I keep all of my plumbing tools in a big orange bucket, with wrenches, putty and tape, so that's no problem. Tomorrow when I need to repair the ceiling I'll be scrambling for knives, saws, joint compound and one of the twenty or so boxes of dry wall screws I know I have around here somewhere. That's why I need a place to organize my tools and supplies but more so the basic knowledge that if I put it back it will be there when I need it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lego Architecture Series

Lego recently came out with a series of models of famous buildings that I would not only enjoy building but would actually display somewhere in my home. Having built countless Star Wars Lego ships and Indiana Jones vehicles for my sons it would be a nice change to build something for me and know it wouldn't end up taken apart to join the amorphous pile of bricks in the boy's room.

There are two series with different levels of difficulty; the Landmark series are tall buildings that have fewer pieces than the Architect series which features Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum. The Architect series is fairly expensive for Lego ($50-$100) so I'd have to choose the Guggenheim since I wouldn't buy both. Not to say that Fallingwater isn't an amazing home, its just that it's Lego doppelganger isn't as cool as the Guggenheim's.

In the Landmark series I've already built the Empire State Building, it was very easy but also a pretty cool looking model. I want to get the Space Needle next, that just looks cool. I like that the models aren't too literal, they more suggest the look of the building rather than try to create a detailed representation.


So yeah, I have blankets, I'm pretty sure I don't need to wear one though, I also have sweaters. The real reason for this post is Juan, a friend who is OBSESSED with Snuggies. Juan has one for himself, his wife and his cat, who is also named "Snuggie". This past Halloween/Breast Cancer season I saw this display at Walgreen's and thought "Now that's marketing!" and immediately sent a picture to my wife, who works in marketing, to show her how it's done.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rega P3 Turntable

I was doing a lot of work on my third floor this weekend when I found a box of old vinyl records. I instantly wished I had a turntable, I would have played albums while I worked. It's not that I don't have an iPod, or that any of the albums were so obscure they couldn't just be downloaded, I wanted to play some vinyl.

I wanted to take the records out of their album covers and dust covers, maybe look at the liner notes, then put them on the turntable and hear IT. It is that sound when the needle first hits the record, then there's the moment before the song begins that's supposed to be nothing but sounds like a quiet airplane hangar, then the music starts.

I suppose it seems like simple nostalgia and it might be. It's the media that I discovered music on, so yeah, call me nostalgic.. The memories of bringing the albums home and rushing upstairs to play them; music seemed so much more exciting and personal then. There's more to it though, there's the album art, the goofy notes on the liner, the label's logo spinning in the middle and the solid, tangible feel of a big record album.

I saw this turntable on line and thought it looked cool, it's the Rega P3, it comes in 24 color combinations and can be found for under $300