When I was a kid we lived in a little town in south Louisiana called Zachary. We lived in a small neighborhood just off of the highway, maybe 30 houses in all. No one in the neighborhood had a fence, all the dogs ran wild, and every yard had huge cabbage weeds. By today's standards, or at least the standards of Florida, that old neighborhood would be considered low rent white trash. (By Louisiana standards it was Beverly Hills, mainly because of the indoor plumbing.)
One of the things that is unique about homes in Louisiana is that many of them don't have garages. Instead, they have a carport. When I was growing up we left our bikes under the carport. We left the lawn mower there too. In fact, I don't really think we even locked our doors very often. Being robbed just wasn't something that we thought about.
Once I was older and living in a house with a regular garage it would never occur to me to leave the garage door open. If I went to bed at night and then realized that I'd left the garage door open, I wouldn't be able to go to sleep until I had gotten up and shut that door. Then, once I got an electronic garage door opener it became vital that I lock the door as well. Our new house has an alarm system. I rarely leave the house without setting the alarm and, just like the garage door, I'll get up in the middle of the night to make sure that I've turned it on.
My point is, I don't witness more crime or hear about more crime now than I have at any other time in my life. The house we lived in six months ago didn't have an alarm system and yet I felt perfectly safe. The house before that one didn't have a garage and yet I wasn't afraid my lawnmower would be stolen in the middle of the night.
It makes me wonder about the nature of fear. It seems the more you protect yourself the more afraid you are that you're going to need protecting. I don't own a gun, I won't have one in my home, but I think I understand people who do own guns and their reluctance to give them up. I'm sure that if I had one I would absolutely feel uneasy if it was no longer there. I have always said that gun owners who claim they need to gun for protection are living with an irrational fear, but now that I think about it, so am I.
Surfing the Web today and I saw that some of the people were commenting on Whoopi Goldberg and her reaction on The View. If you don't know what I'm talking about, during the Oscar telecast on Sunday night, they had a montage of Oscar's greatest moments. They didn't show any video of Whoopi Goldberg hosting the awards (although I think they did show a brief shot of her winning). On The View the next day, all of the hosts started talking about why Whoopi wasn't featured more prominently during the montage. Whoopi was very humble about it. The people at the Academy Awards apologized saying it was just an oversight. But now that I have looked at Whoopi's place in Oscar history, I feel a little bad for what happened. I'm sure that it was just an oversight, but still, there should have been Whoopi in the montage.
Whoopi Goldberg was only the fifth black actress to ever be nominated for an Oscar.
She was only the second black actress to ever win an Oscar. The first was Hatti McDaniel for Gone with the Wind.
She was the first woman to ever host the Oscars.
She was the first black person to ever host the Oscars.
She was the first Academy award winner to ever host the Oscars.
He was hosting the night Halle Berry became the first black woman to win best actress. Denzel Washington also won that night for best actor, becoming only the second black man to do so.
And finally, she has hosted the Academy Awards for times.
She got snubbed.
Well, I finally got my epic mount. That's right bitches, I am flying in style now. And the best part? It only cost me every copper I had managed to save since starting the game four years ago. That's right, I'm completly broke after years of laughing at people who were scrambling to come up with money to pay for enchants. I had become a spoiled rich toon, always secure with over 1000g in the bank. Now I'm a bum again for the first time since starting the game.
But I fly fast!
Have I mentioned that Bobbi never puts anything back where it belongs? About a dozen times? Okay, as long as we're clear. This morning was a perfect example of how Bobbi, who is perfectly aware that she has a problem, likes to try and put it back on me whenever possible.... make it seem like I'm just nagging her about it when she's really fine.
I came into the bathroom and she was using my spray-on deodorant on her feet. That sounds weird but that's why I have the spray-on deodorant in the first place. You spray it on your feet and they don't sweat as bad. Anyway, she finishes spraying it on and puts the can back on the counter. I immediately reach over and pick up the can, open the medicine cabinet and place it inside where I keep it.
"That's where it was," she says defensively.
"Well I didn't put it there, " I say.
"Well, that's where it was," she repeats.
"Did you use it yesterday?" I ask.
Last week I yelled at my daughter in front of my mom and let me tell you, you don't want to yell at your kids in front of your parents. My mom was never much of a yeller when we were growing up and now that she has grandchildren, she never yells at all. So, naturally, I look like an ogre anytime I yell at my kids in front of her (thank God I don't spank). Sometimes it seems like all I do is yell at my kids, so I'm making a conscious effort to not raise my voice anymore. I was even thinking of maybe putting a few small signs around the house that say, "No Yelling." I don't know if it would help but it seemed to work wonders when I put up a sign that said, "Don't put cigarettes out on their arms."
I suppose now you want to know what I was yelling at my daughter about. The girls were outside riding their bikes with my mom when I came home from playing golf. Samantha has gotten much better at riding her bike, even though she uses training wheels, which I'm against, but that's another story, and now I've forgotten where I was going with this sentence. Oh yeah, they were riding their bikes. Anyway Samantha gets to the driveway on the far side of the cul-de-sac and she wants my mom to hang on to the bike while she rides down the driveway (it's only a few feet and across the street). Now, this isn't really a big deal except that a few weeks ago Samantha learned how to do this all by herself. When Bobby's grandmother was visiting she worked with Samantha all day until Samantha had no fear of riding her bike down that little three foot stretch of driveway.
So, I told my mom not to help her and when Sam refuses to do it herself I told her we were done and picked up the bike. Much screaming ensued.
You learn a lot of things about yourself when you become a parent that maybe you didn't know before. You'll find that there are things that you were sure would drive you crazy that don't really bother you at all (for example, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as I thought it would that you can't walk two steps in our house without stepping on something). One of the things that I never really thought about and it now turns out to be something that bothers me is whenever my children act like they can't do something that I know perfectly well they can do. It just bothers me no end. If Samantha knows how to climb out of bed, and she's been climbing out of bed for weeks, and then suddenly starts acting like she can't do it anymore and she needs someone to do it for her, it annoys the crap out of me. Usually, I just flat refuse to help them with whatever it is they're trying to do. This can make me look like quite the shit to anyone who happens to witness it. For example, if any of the neighbors were to look out and see me refusing to push my daughter on the swing I'm sure they would think that I was a terrible dad. But the fact is, Samantha knows how to swing herself, she just doesn't want to swing herself. My general attitude tends to be, "I'll spend as much time as it takes to teach you how to do anything you want but I'm not going to do it for you until you finally decide you would like to do it for yourself."
I don't know, maybe I'm too harsh. Sometimes I think I am. I mean, Samantha's only four years old. Still, even at this age I want my children to get a sense that they can do anything that they want to. More importantly, I want them to truly believe they are capable of learning just about anything. I think that there are a lot more opportunities in this world for people who firmly believe that there is nothing they can't learn to do if they really want to. I'm not exactly an example of the most successful person in the world but I do believe that there is no job or task that I can't accomplish if I want. To me, it's just second nature to feel this way but there are a lot of people who will immediately shy away from anything that they don't already know how to do. I think these people miss a lot of opportunities in life and I don't want my daughters to be like that.
Still, she's only four.
Pizza is the only food we eat that is garnished with the same ingredient that it's made from. You take this big piece of bread covered in cheese and you top it off with...... more cheese. No pizza is complete without some parmesan cheese sprinkled on it. This is a little like saying that no baked potato is complete without some french fries on top.
This is the way my mind works.
Well, we're really starting to get down to the wire now on the Democratic nomination for president. More and more it's starting to look like Barack Obama is going to be the man to beat. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the media is already acting as if Hillary is out of the race despite the fact that it really is too close to call at this point. So, let's talk politics because, despite the way people try to avoid talking politics, I believe that intelligent, thoughtful people should absolutely talk about their political choices. Debate is good. Conflict is good. Pie is good. We can all agree on that can't we? I mean, c'mon. Pie rocks!
I'm not a registered Democrat and therefore I don't get to vote in the primaries. Even if I were, and I did, it wouldn't matter because I live in Florida and this year Florida was exiled into some sort of negative zone of democratic politics. We didn't get any delegates in the national primaries but we may get to come back in at the convention. It's kinda like when I send my 4-year old to her room for not eating her dinner but let her come out later for a snack.
Still, if I could, I would vote for Hillary Clinton. Don't misunderstand me, I think that Barack is probably a fine man but I'm a little worried about the way everyone is so fired up about his message of change and hope. Every candidate has a message of change and hope. The truth is that, for me anyway, Hillary's message about experience makes a lot of sense. Just because Barack is young and has good speechwriters doesn't mean he'll make a good president. He's never run anything. He's never been in charge of anything. As much as I would like to believe that a young mustang can claim the presidency and bend it to his will, it simply is not true. You have to know how to navigate the corridors of power in Washington if you want to get anything done and there is no doubt in my mind that Hillary Clinton is better qualified to row that boat. Bipartisanship? Hillary Clinton has worked side-by-side with the very people who impeached her husband. She has shown through experience that she is capable of making the compromises and brokering the deals that are necessary to get anything done in Washington. All Barack has done is shout about how he never supported the war. Well let me tell you, it's easy to say you didn't support the war when you weren't running for office at that time. We all seem to forget that when we went to war the entire country was behind it. If you were a member of Congress and didn't support the war you were not representing the will of the people who sent you to Washington in the first place.
For me, the best way to decide which person you think would make a good president is to ask yourself which person you would entrust with your business. I'd rather have Hillary Clinton running my office then Barack Obama. (Also, I ask myself, "Which candidate would you rather have blow you?" This test alone kept Ross Perot from the presidency back in 1992.)
Whenever I have to decide whom to vote for I make it a point to not watch any speeches. Speeches are a load of crap. They are written for the candidates to please whomever they are talking to that day. Also, I don't watch the speeches because your ability to give a good speech means nothing in terms of your ability to be president. I read the websites and the positions are about the same for all the candidates.
Like I said before, if the resumes match and I'm deciding between two people to run my grocery store, odds are I'm going to give the job to the person who has spent most of her adult life working in grocery stores instead of the good-looking young stock boy I hired a few weeks ago.
Bobbi just came home from visiting her mom. On her first night back the power went out for five hours so the hot-tub wasn't working and neither was the computer. Much suckage for me.
On the plus side, I played golf on Saturday and shot 77. I had never broken 80 in my life until two weeks ago and now I've done it again. Just like last time, I got a double-bogey on the 18th hole.
Bobbi was rummaging through storage at her mom's house and found an old picture of herself that her mom had blown-up and matted. She brought it home and set it on the mantle in the bedroom. This morning, Sam came in and asked her about it:
"Mom, who's that picture of?"
"That's me when I was a little girl."
"Noooooo.." she said disbelieving.
"Yep, that's a picture of mommy when she was a little girl."
"Okay," she said, resigned to it, "but it looks like a boy."
As any parent can tell you, once your child gets to be about four years old there are a lot of questions. Questions, questions, questions. That's okay, I don't mind questions, let's face it I like to talk anyway. The thing is, with a four-year-old, before they can ask you a question they have to ask you two other questions.
The first question they ask you is: "Daddy?"
Make no mistake about it, this is a question. It's a very important question. It's so important that there will be no continuing down the question chain until this initial query has been answered... and so it is asked:
And if you do not answer it soon enough, it is asked again:
If you do not answer the second time, the question will be asked repeatedly:
"Daddy?" "Daddy?" "Daddy?"
This may seem like a small thing but let me tell you it starts to get on your nerves after a while. Eventually you get to the point where you say, "Yes?" Without even thinking about it. You say it when you're driving the car. You say it when you're taking a shit. You say it when you are asleep..... and once you have said it you will not be graced with the actual question. Oh no, because there is one more question that you have to answer before you can get to the actual question that is the purpose of the entire exchange:
"You know what?"
Bobbi has gone out of town for a few days. So, it's just me and the kids for four days of excitement.
Two days before Bobby left we decided to hit the hot tub. Since moving into our new house the hot tub has become quite the refuge. There are some weeks in which the hot tub is as far away from the house as I get. It's like a little island oasis where we can sit, drink and look back at the house. I imagine it's much the same feeling a death-row inmate gets during his weekly one-hour trip to the yard.
So, we grabbed a couple of cocktails and headed out to the hot water. Naturally, I'm hoping for some freakiness in the hot tub. I mean, let's be real, Bobbi is about to leave town for four days and she's got to be feeling a little guilty about it. This makes for a prime opportunity for me to ride that guilt straight down the freaky highway. Life is short, take what you can get.... that's what I always say.
Things were going okay until Bobbi noticed a worm in the pool.
Not in the hot tub, in the pool.
In the bottom of the pool.
And it was still moving.
Now, my wife will hire an exterminator if she sees an ant in the street on the off chance that it might make a beeline for the house. But a worm in the bottom of the pool? This was cause for action. Not action by Bobbi of course, action by me. (Married men will recognize this phenomanon as the "action-transference equation wherein "we" = "you"" In short, when a wife says, "We have to do something," what she means is, 'You have to do something." For example: "We have to paint the bedroom.")
"There's a worm in the pool," she said.
"Well, it's been raining and sometimes the worms get washed up."
"We should get it out," she said. (the ATE)
"Listen, it's cold, I'm naked, and I'm not going to get out of the hot tub so I can scoop a worm off the bottom of the pool."
Well, needless to say, the worm soon became the focus of most of Bobbi's attention, not me, which had been my hope when heading out to the hot tub in the first place.
"It's starting to shit itself," she said.
"Look, it's starting to shit itself."
Sure enough, there were now little bits of worm shit on the bottom of the pool as well.
Here's where things started to really get interesting.
"Bobbi," I said, "don't look to your right because you aren't going to like what you see."
Now, in addition to a worm in its death throes shitting itself on the bottom of the pool there was a mouse swimming across the surface.
"Oh my God, we've got to save it," she said. (again, the ATE)
Let me be clear. I might have been able to get past the worm. There's a chance that I could have gotten Bobbi to drink enough that she would ignore this water-tortured invertabrate long enough to grace me with her wicked ways. But a live mouse swimming around on the surface of the pool like it's in some vermin Esther Williams musical could not be ignored. So, I got out of the pool and, naked, used the pool net to scoop out the mouse and toss him outside of the screen enclosure. Then, I got back in the hot tub and proceeded on my previous course of trying to get some good good lovin from my wife.
After we were done, Bobby scooped out the worm. I mean, we're not barbarians.
I just want to jump in here real quick and note that on Sunday, February 3rd, 2008, I shot a 76, breaking my previous best score ever by five strokes! Suck-it 80!
Samantha turns 4-years-old today so over the weekend we took her to Disney World for the first time. We had to decide between giving her a trip to Disney or the Hope diamond and decided to go with Disney because it costs more. We had been building it up for about three weeks and she understood that she was going to see Mickey Mouse and the castle and the princesses, but of course until you get there you really have no idea what's in store for you. The first thing that was in store for us when we arrived was that Bobbi lost my wallet. When you enter Disney World you have to pay for parking and the way it's set up a driver can pay or the passenger can pay. In our case, it was the passenger who paid so I gave my wallet to Bobbi and she paid the woman at the ticket booth ($12 for those of you keeping score at home). It wasn't until we got up to the front gate and were about to pay for the tickets ($72) that I realized that I didn't have my wallet. Paul was nice enough to go back to the car and look for it and eventually found it on the ground underneath the car. (Despite Bobbi's claim to the contrary, I'm convinced that the Disney parking lot is not the safest place to keep your valuables.) Bobbi had set it on her lap after she got the parking passes and then got out of the car. I was relieved when Paul found it because it meant I wouldn't have to cancel all my credit cards. Bobbi was relieved because the amount of oral sex that she would have to perform to make good for losing my wallet might have been insurmountable.
We didn't get ten feet inside the front gate before we ran into the first character encounter, which set the stage for what would be our entire afternoon. When you're a teenager or an adult and you go to Disney World it's all about riding the rides but when you're a small child, it's all about the characters. Just inside the front gate we ran into Chip and Dale, Pinocchio, and Pluto. Samantha wanted to meet Pluto so we got into our first line. I didn't want to stop for Pluto because I knew that there were other, bigger, more important characters that Sam would want to see. There's a reason Pluto is at the front gate and the reason is that nobody gives a shit about Pluto. You can't put Mickey up there for God's sake or you'd have a riot. People would never make it into the park. So, you put the lamest character you have up there, a character so lame it doesn't even get to talk. We stood in line for 20 minutes.
Now, the thing with Samantha is, if you want her to do something you have to convince her that it's her idea (like her mother is with sex or turning off a light). It took several examples of this before my family finally began to catch on. You can't just tell Samantha to go get an autograph from Pluto or go get a hug from Pluto or go pose for a picture with Pluto. Samantha is her own woman. So, what you have to do is go there yourself and talk to Pluto or get your picture taken and hope that Samantha will decide that she doesn't want to be left out. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Either way you're going to be spending a lot of quality time with Pluto.
Next, it was down Main Street through Cinderella's Castle and straight to the merry-go-round. After that we headed over to Mickey's Toon Town so that we could meet more characters. First up: The Princesses. Dispite seeing several characters around the park, Samantha kept talking about Cinderella and how much she wanted to meet her and that we needed to find her right away
. Lucky for us Cinderella was one of the three princesses in the Princess meeting area. At first she was shy but then Cinderella knelt down and started talking to her and that was all it took. The next thing you know Samantha was in a full-blown conversation with Cinderella explaining that she was Princess Samantha and that I was King Daddy (it's good to be the King). Then she waved goodbye and explained that she had to go talk to Belle and Sleeping Beauty. She was girl on a schedule. After that we headed next door where we ran into Pluto again, Goofy and Donald. Next, it was over to Mickey's House where we met Mickey Mouse and then over to Minnie's House were we met Minnie. (Note to self: It's a little shitty that Mickey is inside his own special air-conditioned area and Minnie is forced to stand outside in the Florida sun. Check into forming some sort of giant rodent union. Oh wait, the Screen Actors Guild already exists...)
For anyone who might be reading this who has never been to Disney World let me give you a very valuable piece of advice. Make reservations for lunch at the Liberty Tree Café in Frontierland. The Liberty Tree is one of the very few places in Disney World where you can actually sit down and be served by a waiter. After an hour sitting inside an air-conditioned room being served by a waiter and having a nice lunch you are completely recharged and ready to tackle the park again. It sure beats the hell out of eating chicken nuggets on a bench somewhere next to Bebe's kids
. Also, if it's your birthday they'll bring you a cupcake and sing to you, which is always nice, unless you're a 4-year old and you weren't informed in advance that there would be some sort of event after lunch. In that case, it just plain sucks to be you and there will be a willful display of defiance.
Next, we headed off to see Mickey's Philarmagic. This was probably my favorite thing of the day and it's definitely my sister's favorite thing in the park. It's a big 3-D movie featuring Donald moving in and out of all of the great Disney animated musicals. Unfortunately, having a giant Donald Duck hovering right in front of Samantha didn't sit well. I've got to give her credit though she stuck it out and she wore her 3-D glasses the entire time.
Our next stop was the Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and the Buzz Lightyear Ride. It's not until you get to Tomorrowland that you really begin to understand the epic proportions of the stroller problem in Disney World. Tomorrowland is like one giant stroller farm or some giant stroller graveyard were strollers go to die (insert your own stroller metaphor here...). Seriously, there's a shitload of strollers in Tomorrowland. When we were kids the only people who took strollers into Disney were people with very small children. Back in the day, your kids walked and when they got tired you carried them. Now, everyone takes a stroller because all the kids are obese and the parents are riding little powered scooters. It's so bad that Disney employees will actually move your stroller while you're in an attraction. When we came out of Monsters Inc. we discovered that our stroller had been hijacked. We eventually found it across the way 3-deep in a stroller corral. At first I was appalled that someone would move it but then I took a good look around and realized that stroller anarchy was not a good idea in Disney World. There must be some sort of order to the madness.
Our final destination for the day was "It's a Small World." Unfortunatly, we never made it to small world because Sam wanted to ride Dumbo. This turned out to be the longest line of the day at about 30 minutes. Then, Bobbi and Sam managed to get the only Dumbo that wouldn't go up and down on command. Thirty minutes online for a broken elephant. Afterwards, we headed out the front gate with a quick, hour-long stop to shop of course.