Go Minnesota!

Who knew the Norse were so nice? Turns out those folks up there are pretty good neighbors. Or they just have a shared cultural value of helping people out during winter. Because Minnesota winters will literally KILL YOU. Seriously. Do you remember the Vikings in the 70’s? There was a reason that was the most successful decade in the history of the franchise. They played outside. Bud Grant shipped in giant blocks of Norwegian ice, put it in a wood chipper and sprayed it all over the visiting team’s hotel just to make sure they knew who they were playing. Rumor anyway. Things didn’t go that far with Mom last weekend but using my innate worst case scenario logic it is possible they could have ended up frozen to death covered with ice chips.

Anyway, last weekend Mom, Rye, Rye’s friend Madison and Madison’s Mom Kim all went up to Minneapolis for the national dance championships. Or some such thing. I’m unclear on how teams actually qualify for these championships. There doesn’t seem to be a selection committee that is sequestered in a hotel deciding bids. There also does not appear to be a dance regular season in which a team must prove themselves before making the playoffs. So as far as I was able to surmise, it is all based on cash. Sorta like how Big 12 football officials decide when to blow the whistle and throw a flag. For reference sake see the end of the 2013 Iowa State-Texas game. Anyway, there were lots of dance teams from lots of places – including Guam and Mexico. Not sure why a team from Mexico was competing in the national dance championships or why they decided that Minneapolis in February was a sweet place to visit. Anyway, Rye and Madison were in five different dances plus Mom entered Rye in a jumps and leaps competition. Rye was less than enthused about this. But as I explained to her, back in the day – before the weight of increasing federal government intrusion, two knee surgeries and kids beat me down – I once had the second highest vertical jump at basketball camp so she had genetics on her side.

They left on Thursday evening and took my truck. Snow was in the forecast and we figured 4 wheel drive was a good failsafe. They arrived with no issues. The same cannot be said for Bails. Her and I decided to go out for dinner on Friday since Mom and Rye were gone and Kinz went to a movie with some friends. She picked Red Robin. Haven’t been there in awhile because Red Robin isn’t on Mom’s list of favorites. Mine either to be honest. I’m always going to pick Rock Bottom if given a choice. Nachos and a microbrew are like the Friday night dinner version of Swann and Stallworth. Simon and Simon. Poison and neon green. Bails decided that since she was at Red Robin, she wasn’t messing around. We got pretzel bites and milkshakes to go with her chicken strips and fries. Lots of fries. She slugs her way through about half her food and milkshake and declares that she’s full. Good enough for me. Around 10 or so Bails gets up off the couch and says that she’s still full and her stomach kinda hurts.

“Well, you ate a lot there dude. Give it a chance to settle. You’ll be okay in the morning.”

Morning comes and I head out on my Saturday morning ritual. 44 oz Diet Pepsi for me, donuts for the girls. Bails comes down to the couch, gets a donut and then just lays there for about hour groaning about her stomach still hurting. She sounded like the White House press corps after every answer Josh Earnest gives. I get curious and go over feel her forehead. No fever.

“Well, its possible you just ate too much or there was something in your food that just didn’t sit right and its messing up your tummy.”

She gives me that look that says, “Yeah, thanks a pantload there Chet but that doesn’t really help me.”

My lack of helpfulness was confirmed about 10 minutes later when she went upstairs into the bathroom and conducted an emergency evacuation of everything on the stomach level. Everything. Fries. Milkshake. Candy still there from Halloween. It was loud too. Like a prehistoric burp from a T-Rex.

“Dad, I just threw up. But I feel better.”

“Good. Go brush your teeth Upchuck McVomit.”

Aside from that we only got good news on Saturday. Rye placed 3rd in the jumps competition, 5th in two dances, 3rd in another and then two 1st place finishes. Sunday each team gets to pick their best performance and compete in the grand championship. Naturally, Rye’s team picked one of their 1st place dances. A team from Sioux Falls, which they beat on Saturday, turned around and beat them out on Sunday. My reaction? Did anybody check where these judges are from? It matters. I mean, not to beat a dead horse, but look at Big 12 football officials. They’re all from Texas. Teams from Texas sure seem to do well against teams not from Texas. The Big 12 supervisor of officials is a freaking Texas grad. But I’m sure he’s unbiased…

Anyway, they finally get down with all the dances and awards Sunday evening and they head out about 9 p.m. Three hour drive back home. As a bonus, Mom is bringing home another girl on the dance team. Evidently, she’s uncomfortable unless she has three girls in the backseat. So I get a call from Mom at the gas station after they get done filling up.

“Hey, so the truck won’t start.”

“What? Didn’t you just drive it to the gas station?”

“Yes, but now its dead.”


“But there a guy here who is going to jump the truck.”

“Um…okay…call me when you get it started.”

But what I was thinking was, “Um…okay…please God let this guy not be Jeffrey Dahmer. Or Peter Stormare from Fargo.”

Well, turns out this guy’s name was John. John drives a pick-up, carries jumper cables and has a dog. He notices that my truck is deader than the ability of movie producers to come up with an idea that doesn’t involve a Marvel Comics character. He jumps the truck. Then, with the experience of years of Minnesota’s badass winters, tells Mom that driving back to Des Moines with a crap-ass battery is a bad idea when it is below zero outside. He leads them to a close-by hotel – the Prime Rate Inn – walks in with Mom to make sure that they get a room and then drives over to a full service BP station to see when the place opens in the morning. He comes back and tells Mom that they open at 7:30, gives her his cell phone number in case she needs the truck to get jumped again in the morning and then goes home. Mom calls me, tells me the whole story and whilst relaying it she insists on calling him “St. John.” My Dad lived in Minnesota for a while during the winter of 1999-2000 and told me that the folks up in Minnesota don’t mess around with helping each other out in wintertime. Well, thanks Minnesota. Go Gophers I guess. Mom gets up Monday morning calls the BP and they come over, jump the truck, and after Mom drives it over to the station, they drive her back to the Prime Rate Inn. Turns out it’s a crap-ass battery.

So Mom and everyone else makes it back home without incident. I drive the truck to work all week without incident. So I guess thanks BP. Who knew the national dance championships would be so perilous…

The so-called world dance championships are in April. In Orlando. Just FYI.



Do you remember any specific instances of total abject panic in your life?

Maybe the first time you saw the dreaded red and blue rollers in your rear view mirror?  Possibly when you heard Spenser For Hire was going off the air?  Happened to me when I realized for the first time most of people I work with don’t get Fletch quotes, Tesla songs or my world view based the dominance of the 70’s Steelers over the Raiders and Cowboys.

More recent examples?  How about December 28, 2014 when Reggie Nelson went low and viciously and deliberately went after Le’Veon Bell’s knee during the defacto AFC North Championship game that the Steelers won over the Bengals on the last weekend of the NFL season.  This heinous and cowardly act led to an early departure from the playoffs.  The second time was Super Bowl Sunday.  Not sure you’re aware but we were lucky enough to receive a foot of wet heavy snow in central Iowa.  It was wonderful.  If your definition of wonderful includes shoveling your driveway and sidewalks three freaking times in the about 6 hours and digging and pushing two of your neighbors two-wheel drive vehicles out of the street because for some reason they desperately needed to be somewhere.  And listen nobody has to be anywhere Sunday morning unless you’re going to church.  And all the local churches cancelled their services.  Even the Catholics.  Oh and also our Direct TV dish lost contact with the mothership on Saturday night and remained  as dark as the prospects of U.S. economic dominance under Obamacare through Sunday morning.  Yeah, so we’re faced with a situation where the snow has knocked out our reception and, since we live on a cul-de-sac, the city has deprioritized our street when it comes to plowing.  So we’re trapped.  It’s either fix the dish or miss the Super Bowl.  On a normal Sunday we’d just que up our DVR inventory of Archer and The Goldberg’s and call it a day.  Maybe watch some Riptide episodes on youtube.  I know what you’re thinking, this isn’t the zombie apocalypse, just go out brush off the 4 or 5 inches of snow which have collected on the dish…the dish that is located roughly one million feet above my head.

Several years ago this happened and I didn’t get the snow brushed off before it melted and refroze.  No TV for a week.  Lesson learned.  After our second round of driveway shoveling, I decided it was time to address the DTV dish situation.  The girls were steadily ramping up their whining and my consternation regarding the Super Bowl was doing the same.  I take my 12 foot extendable Mr. Longarm painting pole and duct tape my old garage broom to the end of it.  It’s about 16 and a-half feet of dish dusting badassery.  But I still can’t actually reach the dish.  I get my 8 foot ladder and trudge through the snow to the deck.  Mom and I clear the deck of snow and set up the ladder.  I head up to the step right below the one that warns you of severe bodily injury or death if you happen to use it.  Since the whole point of this adventure is watching the Super Bowl and not dying, I decide to go ahead follow the directions.  I get my MacGyver’d dish duster and begin the moment of truth.   Does it reach?

You’re damn right it reaches!  Worked smoother than a fresh dry skippy.  A couple minutes later and the TV is fully operational.  A couple hours and few more inches of snow later I clean it again just to be safe and we settle in for the game.  Like most of America I was cheering for the Patriots to lose.  They’re cheaters and the rules have been changed to prevent anyone from touching Tom Brady.  Not that I wanted the Seahawks to win.  I realize Russell Wilson seems like a good dude but Pete Carroll is a cheater too.  And a 9/11 truther.  Plus Richard Sherman is not a guy who makes it easy for you to cheer for him.  Aside from that here’s my major takeaway from the game:

Budweiser can suck it.  Not only does Bud Heavy taste like crap but we’re not really fans of Bud Light either in our house.  The whole assertion that its brewed “the hard way” and that people who drink their beer are people who” like to drink beer” since its not supposed to be “fussed over” since its beechwood fricking aged?  WTF?  Brewed the hard way?  Its brewed the easy way so they can produce billions of kegs.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s capitalism.  I like capitalism.  I also like to drink beer and the last beer I’m drinking is Budweiser.  I’m going to get a freaking warm Iron City and mix it with a flat Old Style before I’m drinking Bud Heavy.  Won’t be any fussing at all.  Why?  Because nobody freaking knows what beechwood aged means.  Plus, and I’m just spitballin’ here but aren’t you brewing some crap called Mang-o-rita and Lime-o-rita?  Are those brewed the hard way?  Are they for people who like to drink beer?  Yeah, thought so.

I’ve Never Sent an Email

One thing I would have really liked in school is if History class and English class collided. If I’m going to be forced to read a book that I haven’t picked out myself, it might as well be about the campaign in North Africa in 1943. Kinsey isn’t that lucky. Her 7th grade Social Studies class is studying the Greek Empire right now. In English they are reading about Greek mythology. And they’ve collided. Some of you immediately find this interesting. You’re smiling and a bit jealous. Ooooo…the Parthenon, Aphrodite and Gerard Butler. Whatever. I am neither smiling, nor jealous. This period in history never really kept my attention. So I’m not much help when it comes to knowing facts about Greek Gods. The extent of my knowledge is limited to the original Clash of the Titans. Kinz, however, had to pick a Greek God and give a 3 minute oral report. If you remember 7th grade, getting up in front of the class and giving a report wasn’t at the top of the list of awesome things to do. Not to mention the fact they had to memorize the speech, dress in costume and have some kind of props to accentuate their choice of Greek deity.

You know who liked lugging stage props like a toga and cardboard sword onto the bus school bus in 7th grade? Exactly nobody. Ever.

Anyway Kinz picked Hera. Yeah, I had no idea who that was either. But in case you’re wondering…Queen of the Gods, Goddess of Marriage, women and birth. And the peacock is considered sacred to her. After listening to Kinz describe her, my conclusion was Hera was some sort of genetic experiment conducted in the labs of some Greek Big Pharma conglomerate headed by some mid-level Greek staff god that combined the DNA of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton.

Aside from that though, Kinz put together a costume consisting of a bedsheet – because everyone with any knowledge of Animal House knows the best togas are made of the oldest of bedsheets – along with a gold necklace, other ancillary jewelry and an extendable painting attachment which I use to paint ceilings. Using purple duct tape she attached a whiffle ball to the top of the pole. She evidently thought Hera might excel at whiffle ball. She also wanted a peacock.

Mom finds her a peacock online for like $8 and gets free shipping. But it doesn’t arrive in time so she calls me at work and says I have to print this picture of a peacock she found. As an aside, the peacock was about 4 inches wide and 3 inches tall. It looked bigger in the pic on the website evidently. Anyway, I assume you’re asking why doesn’t she just print the picture of the peacock at home? For a very simple reason…we can’t get the f’ing printer to work. Oh, it worked when we bought it and installed it. Worked just fine. We could print from our laptop, print from our phones, it was great. But at some point, the printer just decided to go all Obama and won’t work with anybody now. Its threatening vetoes on everything we send to it, it’s raising taxes on our college savings accounts, just an all out mess.

So in light of this printer jam (see what I did there?), Kinz wants me to print the peacock picture at work. Cool. No problem. I’ve done it before. Not printing peacock pictures but printing things for the girls at work. Because who would be printing peacock pictures at work? Nobody. That’s just weird. Anyway, I tell her that she needs to email me the picture in order for me to print it.

“How do I do that?”

“How do you do what?”

“Email. I’ve never sent an email.”

magnumburnoutIt appears that email is so uncool and technologically obsolete that 7th graders are unaware of it. Like hair metal, the mid-range jump shot and Magnum, P.I.

“You don’t know how to send an email?”

“No. I’ve never done it. Can’t I just take a picture of it with my phone and send it to you?”

“No. Well, yes you could but it would be completely pointless and totally unnecessary. Like these last two years of Obama’s second term.”

“What? What do you mean? Are we still talking about the peacock email?”

“Yeah, sorry. Are you logged into you’re school account?”

“Yes. Oh, I have an email on there! What do I do?”

“Open up the email, hit “compose new email” and type my email address into the “to” box. Then go to the picture and right click and then hit “copy.”

“Ok, done.”

“Go back to the email and right click in the body of the email and hit “paste.”


“Send it.”

A couple seconds later I get my first ever email from Kinz. Nice father-daughter moment right there. It contains a picture of a peacock. I print said picture on the sweet color printer and later the same day I bring that picture home with me. Kinz even remembered to use it during her Hera speech. On which she made a point to tell me how awesome she did. And now Hera has the additional power of email. Boom.