You’ve Got To Learn To Be The Ball

Being a parent presents you with some interesting dilemma’s.  Do you buy your kid a car when they turn 16?  They’ve obviously done nothing to deserve it.  But it will also simplify your life significantly if they can drive themselves to school and pick up your other two kids from school, practices and activities.  Do you, through steady but almost undetectable daily pressure indoctrinate your kid into being an Iowa State fan even though their Mom went to Iowa? Naturally some are more important than others but almost all can be approached with some wisdom from 80’s movies.  Don’t leave your wingman, never get involved in a land war in Asia, screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place.  But if parenting and the 80’s have taught me anything, its you’ve got to learn to be the ball.

For example most parents preach good decision-making to their kids so they are armed with enough sound judgement that can make tough decisions in the course of their day.  So…parental dilemmas, be the ball, good decision-making…

A couple Friday afternoons ago, I’m driving home from work listening to Lita Ford’s underappreciated early 90’s hit “Shot of Poison.”  If you’re wondering what 1991 sounded like wait till the 2:13 mark of the song and that’s exactly what it sounded like.  1991 was the year I turned 21.  So the song reminds of beers…and Friday afternoons…and beers on a Friday afternoon.

Which led me to think about my old neighbors.  A thought which they’ll appreciate.  One of them is a huge Duke basketball fan and Duke tipped at 6:20.  But it was only about 4:30.  Hmm…

A quick phone call, a quick stop at the gas station with the walk-in beer cooler and I’m sitting in my neighbor’s garage just as the SMU-USC game ends.  We have a few beers, talk college basketball and…have a few beers.  This is literally my favorite thing to do.  That isn’t hyperbole or a superfluous use of the word “literally.”  It combines several things which I – and you if your’re being honest with yourself – enjoy.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them all independently.  I do.  But I really enjoy them all together.  Kinda like nachos.  Chips, cheese, meat, salsa, etc.  All good on their own but really good together.  Let me further explain.  I like beers.  So I stopped and picked up a six-pack of Miller Lite tallboys even though I was fully aware that my old neighbors had close to a full case of Miller Lite in their fridge…mostly for me when I drop by unexpectedly.  And probably when I do it expectedly.  Regardless, the Miller Lite is for me.  In addition to beers, I like Friday afternoon right after work.  It’s my favorite time of the week.  The whole weekend is ahead of you and it’s the only time I totally and completely feel free to unplug from the my responsibilities as an adult.  In addition to beers and Friday afternoon after work, I love that first weekend of the NCAA tournament.  32 games (of which I picked 30 correctly this year) and games nearly around the clock.  In addition to beers, Friday afternoon after work and the first weekend of the NCAA tourney, I like hanging with my old neighbors in their garage.  We named it the DT – short for Downing Tap – a few years ago.  Best neighbor bar I’ve ever been too.  Plenty parking, the bathroom is clean, Miller Lites are cold, there’s a TV in the garage and if you forget to bring your own chair they almost always have an extra.  Plus, if you’re lucky, you show up on a day they’re serving food.  This particular Friday was such a day.

Let’s review – beers, Friday afternoon after work, first weekend of the NCAA tourney, the DT.  Naturally I stayed until about 10:30.

What?  All I did was essentially FAC.  It was okay in college and its okay now.  But here’s the cool thing.  Mom took all the girls down to Kansas City on Thursday morning.  It was like my own mini-version of the National Day Without Women.  Or whatever that was supposed to be.  I can’t keep track of all the awareness outragery that I’m supposed to care about.  Here’s the thing, Mom said they get home about 7:00 Friday evening.  I’m no math wiz but I figured they’d home in plenty of time in case I needed somebody to come pick me up.

Which I of course did.  Anything would have been surprise.  I texted Mom and told her I needed a ride home at some point and she might want to send Rye and Kinz over to pick me up.  Rye’s had her license for over a year and Kinz has her learner’s permit.  And I needed somebody to drive my truck home.  So Rye drops off Kinz, I give her the keys and she drives us both home.

Now depending on your level of judgmental smuggery and/or condescending moral superiority, you’re assessing my fitness as a parent.  While some of you, if you subscribe to the same child-raising handbook as me, are smiling and nodding to yourself thinking, “yeah, that’s just smart parenting.”

How is that those of you in living the land of Smuggington contemptuously ask.  Simple.

You’ve got to learn to be the ball.  I combined beers, Friday afternoon after work, the first weekend of the NCAA tourney and the DT into a real life lesson on what to do after you’ve had one (four) beer(s) too many.  You know what that makes me?  The best Dad on the planet.

Surprises

I don’t like surprises.  It’s against my nature.

So I walk into the gas station down the street from our new house to get my 44 oz. Diet Pepsi which I get nearly every morning on the way to work.  If you’re a pop nazi and feel a burning need to start lecturing me about all the horribly destructive stuff pop does to my teeth and esophagus, well, suck it.  I’m drinking it.  If Hillary is elected she’ll outlaw it anyway.  My beloved 44 ouncer costs $1.06.  I go in with exact change every morning.  What?  I have too much change in my truck and I’m trying to get rid of it.  Seriously.  I bet my gas mileage improves with every 44 ouncer I buy.  Not to mention the fact that I like to pay with cash (or coins when applicable).  Why?  Because it’s nobody’s business what, when or how often I buy stuff.  Corporate America and the government ain’t tracking my consumer purchases!

Anyway, the pop costs $1.06.  Until today.  I reach over to hand the guy behind the counter my $1.06 and he  says “$1.58.”

Upon recognition of my look of both dismay and resigned realization of the inevitability of a cost increase, he – not surprisingly – says, “Price went up today.”

No sh*t.

I give him a $1.60, which isn’t exact change, and I leave.  I mean, they got me.  I’m going to this gas station to get pop.  I’m not changing my morning routine.  I like routines.  They eliminate decisions.  And right now, at work, I’m making decisions all freaking day.  So in the morning I don’t want to have to add unneeded and unnecessary decisions to an already decisiony  day.  So the question is, “who decided that 52 cent increase was justified for my 44 oz pop?”

I’m blaming Obamacare.  It has raised the cost of everything.  And Hillary.  Any day now there will be an email released detailing her role in the price increase.  Probably Kurt Cobain and all those assholes in Seattle who killed hair metal had something to do with it too.  The idiot who brought Emerald Ash Borer to the Midwest and killed all the ash trees is guilty too.  And while I’m at it…George Atkinson for prematurely ending Lynn Swann’s career due to concussions.  The mid-90’s for the general suckitude of the music.  Francisco Cabrera.  Smartphones.  The creators of MTV’s The Real World for coming up the genre of reality TV.  Millennials.  Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney.  And whoever is responsible for the death of Saturday morning cartoons.

Done.

Some Things Don’t Change

Seven weeks in the new house. I know everybody tells you moving is a huge hassle, and the truth is…its worse. Unless, of course, you’re old neighbors were Keith Olbermann, Bill Belichick and Elizabeth Warren. Then moving is glorious. But outside of that, moving just sucks. Not along the lines of working in a coal mine in the early 1900’s, watching golf or being a Bengals fan but still pretty crappy. I’m still somewhat, but not totally, amazed that we actually pulled it off.

The main reason we moved was sheer square footage. In the new house, each girl has her own room and now they have two bathrooms to fight over instead of one. But, and this is key, there are three sinks. In case you’re having trouble with the math, that means each kid can be in front of a sink at the SAME FREAKING TIME. Literally, not figuratively, life changing. The garage is bigger so now we don’t have to play musical chairs with the cars every morning to get out of the garage/driveway and lastly, the basement is now big enough that the girls can invite more than one friend over at a time.

But some things simply don’t change.

Millenials suck. Skynet will eventually become self-aware. And the girls still steal each other’s clothes and shoes and deny it happened.

They’re like Soviet diplomats in the 80’s. Did you take Rye’s shirt and wear it to school? I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. But if I did accurately understand it, I have no knowledge of any shirt, let alone the shirt in question. Furthermore you have provided nothing that demonstrates my involvement and I am forced to conclude that this is yet another attempt by a corrupt and greedy western system to undermine the proletariat.

Also, they refuse to put their shoes in their rooms. Refuse! Now, see if you can follow me here – they get ticked off at each other when one of them absconds with a pair of shoes that is not their own. They complain – loudly – and insist on the involvement of Mom and I to officiate the annoyance and then keep score regarding the number of times their shoes have been pilfered. Keeping their own shoes in their own rooms provides a degree of security that the small area in front of the door to garage does not. Yet that is where the shoes end up.  It’s as if their wi-fi connectivity depends on their shoes not being in their rooms. Their actions can only be construed as an outright repudiation of the principals of The Drop Zone. As I’ve previously mentioned, our new house has this sweet drop zone as you walk in from the garage. It has three hooks, a bench and plenty of space beneath the bench to TEMPORARILY locate 4 pairs of shoes. Maybe 5 if they’re small. Plus right next to the drop zone, and I mean literally right next to it, is a coat closet. So shoes, jackets, backpacks all have a place in which they can be put. None of those places can, in any reasonable way, be misinterpreted as piling them on top of each other in such a manner than they resemble the county dump. I have to use the door to the garage as a snow plow to push the shoes out of my way when I get home. Bails has more shoes in the drop zone than she does in her closet. Not kidding. I asked her why all her shoes on in the drop zone instead of in her closet. Her answer?

“How am I supposed to know what shoes I’m going to want to wear everyday? It’s easier if they’re all just downstairs.”

So, in case you’re not following along, her convenience is the primary directive on which we’re operating.

I think Missing Persons pretty much nailed my conclusions in their 1982 new wave hit Words.

“Do you hear me, Do you care…I might as well go up and talk to a wall ’cause all the words are having no effect at all…What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talkin at all…My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out, The words are audible but I have my doubts.”

You know I’m saying…

Unforeseen Issues

Okay, so make a quick list of things you expect to be issues and/or problems with your new house.  This may be easy for you.  Maybe even second nature if you watch HGTV as much as Mom does.  But that last time I moved How Bizarre by OMC and Fly by Sugar Ray were racing up the charts, John Elway was still a quarterback, and college interns were still interested in Slick Willie.

Anyway, make a list…take your time.  I’m just spitballin’ here but I’m gonna say cracks in the drywall, maybe some grading and/or drainage issues in the yard, and probably some minor leaking issues on the roof or in the bathroom are on your list.  Of course there are other issues with which to deal.  Maybe your neighbors to the west are Ravens fans.  Maybe the couple on the corner really likes garden gnomes.  Maybe the people across the street are freaking millennials who drive a Prius and are offended by everything.  Just speculating.  I don’t really know what kind of neighborhood you moved into.

But one thing that we failed to include on our list was rabidly aggressive robins.  At any point while you ran through the things to double check with the builder and/or house inspector did two crazy-ass belligerent robins show up?  Upon taking possession of your new house whilst at the bank during your closing did it dawn on you to mention that one thing that might derail the whole deal was two avian kamikaze terrorists?

Yeah so we have two robins that have built a nest in one of the pine trees along our back property line.  Normally I wouldn’t think twice about it.  In fact, it is a better spot than where the robins used to try and build a nest every spring in the old house.  I used to have a yearly battle with these two winged morons who insisted on building a nest on the house light right next to the front door.  Every morning I’d knock down the beginnings of a nest and those two idiots would just keep building.  They were like the Terminators of robins – they just absolutely would not stop!  But these two robins at the new house have evidently become somewhat accustomed to having complete dominion over the backyard.  A part of this misguided dominance is an exceptionally hardline stance against other robins.  Particularly robins which look exactly like them and have the annoying tendency to mimic their every move.  Every.  Damn.  Move.

But reflections in windows do that.

The brain of a bird is roughly the same size as the list of Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments as Secretary of State.  And the birds behave accordingly.  The day we moved in I’m down in the basement doing the things you do when you move into a new house.  Unpacking boxes, moving furniture, wondering what all the bird crap and accompanying bird like markings were doing all over the patio and sliding glass door.  It looked a velociraptor was trying to get through the door.  Bird shaped feet marks all over the glass.  So much that it obstructed your view.  They’d been evidently attacking these “other” two intransigent robins repeatedly for months with no success.  I’m sure it was frustrating.  It was probably like attacking Donald Trump in the GOP primary.  Doesn’t matter what you do, he just keeps showing up same as before.

The obvious solution to this problem is deforestation of the backyard.  In gleeful disdain I dubbed this the Al Gore option.  There are only five pines and a maple back there.  Having some activity in the house and the installation of window blinds has helped keep these two supremely dense robins away from nearly all the windows.  But not the basement slider.  In fact, I met out new next door neighbor while I was out cleaning the outside of the door.  Neighbor walks over, introduces himself and then starts marveling at the robins’ persistence when smashing themselves into the glass.  Trading blows with the reflection over and over like Bird and Dominique in Game 7 of the ’88 Eastern Conference Semis.  Then, when they aren’t hurling themselves at the glass, they sit right up against it and crap all over the patio. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is what Bernie Sanders supporters plan to do at the Democratic National Convention.

I’ve narrowed my options down to the following:

  • The aforementioned Al Gore option. Doomed to failure or irrelevancy like most of the things bearing Al Gore’s name.
  • Bob Lee Swagger Option. In a ghille suit I lay in the tall grass in the undeveloped lot behind us, check wind speed, range, target movement, barometric pressure, the number of beers left in my cooler and decide how to eliminate the target – pellet gun, pressure washer or bottle rockets.  Not gonna lie, I really like the bottle rocket idea.
  • Total War. Here’s the plan – first, I grind up Krispy Kreme donuts and infuse the tiny donut particles into the seed in a bird feeder placed near their nest.  After a couple weeks or so the birds become so fat they can’t fly.  Using their sensitivity to sound against them, I play comments from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz over and over until the fat flightless birds are immobilized with liberal guilt.  Pretty soon something higher up the food chain will just take care of business.

So I guess I’ve got some thinking to do…

Leaving Your House

It’s been about three weeks since we moved.  It’s weird.  You live in a house for almost 19 years then one morning you wake up and all your stuff gets moved to a different house.  And listen, it is amazing the stuff you’ve not only accumulated over 19 years but the things you’ve somehow kept.  Like my cassette tape single of Dirty Love by Thunder.  Not only a great song but totally emblematic of the summer of the ’91.  Other things awesome about the summer of ’91?  The T-1000, Andy Van Slyke in centerfield for the Pirates and I went to Game 2 of the NBA Finals and saw this:

jordan1991game2handswitch

I really thought it would be more difficult to leave the house once we fixed all the little things and made it look so nice.  Over the last few years, we’d renovated two bathrooms, replaced all the windows, put a new roof on, re-sided the house, sealed and patched the garage floor, put new carpet in the upstairs and downstairs and I really thought, man, we put a lot of cash, time and effort into this house…and then the bank handed me the check at closing.  Turns out I don’t really miss it as much as I thought.  I miss our old neighbors.  I miss the big trees.  I mean the convenience of the location.  Dude, I could get anywhere – bank, grocery store, gas station, Mexican restaurant, Target, mall, softball fields, three different schools, dry cleaners, hardware store all in 10 minutes or less.  New house?  We’ve been completely sealed off by traffic lights.  Everything takes more time.  Seriously add 15 minutes and lots of swearing to everywhere you go.  By the time you’re home on the couch watching The Goldbergs you’ve become pretty irritated.  Thankfully, I’m figuring out the shortcuts.  There’s exactly one.  As in uno.  Regardless, what I really miss is knowing where the hell everything is located inside the house.

You spend 19 years in a house and you literally, not figuratively, know where everything is.  Forks and knives?  Same drawer they’ve been in for 19 years.  Duct tape?  Utility drawer in in the kitchen.  DePaul Blue Demons pennant you’ve had since the ’83-’84 season?  White bin on the second shelf in the basement.

Now?

I don’t even freaking know which freaking switch turns on the freaking lights in the freaking house.  I came down the stairs early in the morning this week and I’m hitting every freaking light switch I can find to try and turn on the damn light above the kitchen table.  It probably looked like gun shots if you were standing outside watching.

You know what else is a bit unsettling?  Tampa Bay possibly playing San Jose for Lord Stanley’s Cup that’s what.  Also, mowing a different yard.  An entirely different patch of earth.  Yeah, I had the pattern rotation down cold in the old yard.  I had it down so I could mow, trim and edge all under an hour.  Now?  I almost collapsed from exhaustion the first time I mowed the new yard.  Didn’t help that the mower kinda crapped out me  but listen, this new yard…is a BIG DAMN yard.  It’s like push mowing Montana.  I looked like Forrest Gump when he was finally done running.

Plus the first time I did it the internet guys hadn’t buried the cable line yet so I had to constantly pick up and mow under the freaking thing.  Pretty sure this is how involuntary amputations happen.  Oh, and special thanks to the builder who decided it was swell idea to grade the dirt around the southeast corner of house so pushing the mower up that hill is like running up the damn American Ninja Warrior Warped Wall.  That was super enjoyable.  Plus the self-propelled part of the self-propelled drive on the right rear wheel packed it in for the rest of the job which meant that not only was the mower now half self-propelled and half 45 year-old-Dad-propelled, but it was pulling heavily to the left.  So I’m trying to mow a small hill that is, roughly speaking, an 80 degree grade while reaching down and picking up the exposed internet line with a mower running at 50% propulsion that really just wants to turn left.  If I had video I’m pretty sure it would be a good visual representation of the Bernie Sanders campaign.

Before I could get the trimmer out I had to go inside and sit down for 20 minutes to prevent a cardiac event.  Pretty much decided at that point that I was going to mulch…or pave…the entire yard.  I’d start looking at lawn tractors…or as some of you may know them – riding mowers – but that really just feels like quitting.  Like giving into my impending 46th birthday.   My solution?  American Ninja Warrior.  I’m just gonna scale that damn hill full speed everyday until its easy.  46 years-old my ass.

Experience, Genetics and Relocation

As far as I can tell, we’re all a product of our experiences with a good dose of genetics mixed in there.  That combination creates the parameters of your particular personality.  What you like, what you’ll put up with and how you view the world.  For example, the entirety of my teen years was spent in the 80’s.  This means I like hair metal, John Hughes movies and judge all presidents against Ronald Reagan.  Although I do have a soft spot for some top 40 nuggets  like Heart & Soul by T’Pau, And We Danced by The Hooters and Dangerous from Roxette.  That being said, another thing I did a fair number of times growing up was move.  By the time I started my junior year of high school I’d moved four times, went to four different schools and went through all the stuff you do when you’re the new kid.  Before you start wondering, I think moving sucks.  Like the ’76 Buccaneers, Howard the Duck and the Big 10’s decision to add Rutgers and Maryland sucks.  I realize some people like it.  Not the Howard the Duck, that’s insane, but moving.  Some people, I’ve heard, even prefer it.  Those people are the ones who have an actual hometown.  Grew up in one place.  I’m not one of those people.  In fact, I’ve always kinda envied them.  Why?  I enjoy stability.  If I listed all the synonyms for stability, they would all sound appealing to me. Steadiness.  Permanence.  Longevity.  I like things you can count on.

Which brings us to right now.  We’re still in the house Mom and I purchased  about the time we were married almost 19 years ago.  I like where we live.  I like not moving.  We are, quite literally, close to just about everything.  And you get spoiled by that.  Especially when you can sit in your next door neighbor’s driveway/garage and drink beers and only have to stumble about 20 feet to your front door.  But, alas, things change.  Injuries pushed the Steelers out of the playoffs in 1980, Lee Majors got too old to play The Fall Guy, and we have almost 5 full grown humans living in the house.  This, for those of you keeping track, creates spacing issues within the house.

So we decided to move.  And by “we” I mean Mom and the girls.  I, as is the case in most major decisions in our family which involve me spending large amounts of money, was the last to agree.  Turns out all I was doing was an impression of the German retreat up the Italian peninsula in 1943 .  It was a delaying action with the outcome never in doubt.

Regardless, a few weeks ago, I stupidly agreed to go look at a few houses with Mom, Kinz and Bails.  Turns out one of the houses we looked at appealed to everybody.  The only reason I even agreed to see the place was because I was curious about what it looked like compared to the older places we’d looked at.  And I liked it.  Not enough to actually move, but I really did like it.  Result?  The part of my brain that governs financial decisions went into full lock down.  Seriously.  I could feel it stringing barbed wire, digging foxholes, throwing up sandbags while it built a perimeter around the decision making switch marked “yes/no.”

It was like my brain was hanging out, enjoying a normal Saturday morning, when suddenly it was invited into a house with a bigger garage, an additional bedroom, a big laundry room on the second floor and a drop zone directly inside the door from the garage to house.  Here’s video of the financial sector of my brain as it realizes what’s happening:

Our house doesn’t have a drop zone.  In fact, my only experience with drop zones was episode 2 of Band of Brothers when Easy Company missed theirs by hundreds of miles and were scattered all over northern France in June of ’44.  A drop zone is the area inside a house where everybody can drop their crap as they come in from the garage – shoes, coats, backpacks, frustration and whatever else you lug around during your day.  I’m joking about dropping your frustration there.  You obviously can’t leave that in the drop zone.  You leave that at the bar.  Ideally a drop zone has hooks, a spot for shoes and best of all, the drop zone is not the ENTIRE FIRST FLOOR of your house.  Which is how it works now.  Shoes go right in front of the door and stay there until they form a small mountain range.

We’re walking around this new house and while I’m thinking about property taxes and utility costs, Kinz and Bails are upstairs picking out rooms and taping off the floor to illustrate where their beds and furniture will go.  They even chose Rye’s room for her.

 

My brain’s reaction:

Then Bails starts showing me how simple and efficient her flow of movement will be on school day mornings as she moves effortlessly from the future location of her bed to the bathroom.  No wasted steps since the closet is conveniently located on the way plus the bathroom has two sinks so her and Kinz won’t fight over space.  While this has a certain degree of logic to it, I’m skeptical about that last part.   Replacing Bo and Luke with Vance and Coy also had a degree of logic and that was a complete disaster.

Meanwhile Mom is downstairs with the realtor talking about how nice the finishes in the kitchen are while mentioning now nicely the first floor flows between rooms.  Then she starts asking questions about how long the house has been listed, who the builder is and long does it typically take get your current house ready to sell.

My brain:

So, to quote myself a couple hours later after Mom let me know that she’d already talked to the bank:

Hot Water

I live in a house with 4 other people.  All girls.  They have lots of things.  Sarcasm and hair top the list.   I’ll take some of the blame for sarcasm.  I speak it fluently.   I may have passed on that gene.  Or they might just all be teenagers.  But when it comes to clogged shower drains or blocked bathroom sinks, I’m not at fault.  I could be standing in a category 5 hurricane and my hair would give you no indication.  None.  That being said, we do share one thing.  Hot water.

When I was a kid, I grew up in a house with 4 other people.  In college I shared a house with 4 other dudes.  Hot water was a commodity.  Like sincerity in a speech by Ted Cruz.  The size, age and efficiency of your water heater helped dictate the acuteness of your hot water radar.  Over the years I believe I have developed a relatively strong sense of how much hot water is available based on the hot water related activities going on in the house.  It’s kinda like the noise level on the second floor when Mom and I are watching TV in the family room.  There is a level of noise, an intensity of clamor, a degree of hullabaloo that we don’t notice.  It’s not that we’re ignoring it, but after many years of parenting we have developed an acute sense of when something is amiss and when something is just…well…the girls “talking” to each other.  We’re aware of what’s going on but we pay it no attention.  Like any statement from Hillary suggesting competence in regards to her foreign policy experience.  If you haven’t seen 13 Hours in Benghazi you should.  However, there is a simple rule of thumb that is rarely if ever unreliable.  When it comes to showers and house full of people, you want to be first.

Sometimes this will require you to wake up early.

Other times it will require you to shower at odd times.

Or you can just get in line and hope for the best.

I have no sympathy for you if you continually chose #3 and bitch about cold water.  That’s like getting into a discussion about hair metal with a millennial and expecting wisdom.  Or telling them that the Ghost video from Ella Henderson bears a striking similarity to Warrant’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin?  Just me?  Whatever…

Anyway, recently, Kinz comes barreling down the stairs to let us know that Rye and Bails have used all the hot water.  They are, and I’m paraphrasing here, inconsiderate jerks with no appreciation or respect for widely agreed upon rules of hot water consumption.  Now we all have our burdens to bear.  The ’83 Steelers had Cliff Stoudt at quarterback.  Hans Gruber had John McClane.  Thundarr the Barbarian had the vile sorcerer Sabien.  It can be tough out there.

But this is not one of those burdens.  This is an inconvenience.  A burden is supervising John Bender in detention on a Saturday.  This is a lesson in the art of acting quickly.  A lesson in immediately diagnosing a situation, devising a plan of action, and then acting on that plan.  Joshua Chamberlain did it on Little Round Top and Kinz needs to do it here.

But Kinz has yet to learn an important lesson.  Over the years I have learned not to complain if I get there and the water temperature is less than what I expected.  Because in reality, you only have two options – bitch about it.  Which isn’t going to make the water any hotter but could make the rest of day less enjoyable as your family dismisses your plight the same way Higgins would dismiss Magnum’s need to the drive the Ferrari.  Or you can go fast.  And I have some experience with this.

A few years ago, in the middle of winter, our water heater went out.  Died.  Quit.  Like Roberto Duran in his last fight with Sugar Ray.  Which meant that, while we technically could still take showers, we spent of the time avoiding the water instead of actually using.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, we could have used one of the other appliances in the house to warm up a pot of water and used that to bath.  Well, and I’m thinking of a word here…that’s just stupid.  What the hell are we?  Pio-freaking-neers trekking across the Great Plains avoiding Indian raids whilst searching for the Oregon Trail?   No!  We have plumbing.  So even the water is like Lake Michigan in January, we’re using it.

Now there are a lot of things I like.  That first taste of a cold beer on a Friday after work.  Youtube videos of 70’s NFL games.  Being 10 feet from Dee Snider singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.  But after a few days of cold showers, stepping into a hot one is indescribable.  It’s feels like this:

But none of that helped Kinz.  She stood there whining and complaining about the lack of hot water for shower.  Only I couldn’t really hear her.  Why?  Because before I could unleash my own words of disdainful sarcasm, Mom, Rye and Bails just buried her with it.  It really was breathtaking.

We haven’t had too many issues with shower since.  Sometimes things just take care of themselves.

Christmas Lists

Growing up we made lists.  We’d wait for the JC Penny and Sears Christmas catalogs to arrive with a feeling of anticipation only a Gen Xer can truly appreciate.  When those 10 lb. bundles of wishes arrived it was magical.   We’d grab a pencil and a legal pad and get to work.  I’d roll through several versions before finally whittling the list down to those things that I desperately wanted and felt comfortable submitting to the powers that be.  I’d always chuckle softly inside when I’d see my sister’s lists.  They’d have 45 things on there.  I’d think to myself, “you simpletons, interest rates are like 20%, there’s no way you’re getting all that stuff.”   My list would be narrowed down to 10-12 specific items.  If you wanted Santa, and later your folks, to get it right you needed give them clear and unambiguous instructions.  Because nobody wanted to end up with this:

1980SearsCatalog8

If you wanted Chopper Command for your Atari 2600, you needed to spell it out.  Now, as I’ve become older, it has come to my attention that there are some folks who don’t appreciate getting lists.  If fact, they will ignore the list.  These individuals will go and buy something that they think you’ll like despite having an actual list of things they know you’ll like.

This makes no sense.  Like Bernie Sanders’ view of economics.  Or casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.

It’s not that I view it as disrespectful or dismissive of all the work I, or someone else, may have put into building the list.  I simply do not understand why anyone would intentionally choose to make their own life harder by ignoring the list.  And make no mistake, that’s what you’re doing.  You might church it all up by convincing yourself that you’ve thought about it and have really come up a sincerely heartfelt and profoundly meaningful gift.  But you’d be almost always wrong.

Sure I get a benefit from you choosing something from my own Christmas list.  I put it together therefore I obviously have a fairly high level of affinity for everything that made the final cut to get on the list.  But the real beneficiary is you.  The real advantage is the simplicity for you the buyer.  The time saved.  The hassles eluded.  The avoidance of that awkward realization that the gift you gave someone has become a garage rag or been returned for store credit.  Why in the name of all that is holly and jolly would someone purposefully choose to add needless decisions to a time of year that is already overrun with extra stuff?

Especially when you were given a list!  A Christmas list is a yuletide map to joyous merriment.  Literally the only decisions you have to make, outside of how much beer you’re going to drink during the period of time when everyone else is still shopping, is which store to visit first and whether or not you should pity laugh at all the holiday shoppers without lists to guide them.  Do you really think the three Wise Men showed up at the stable in Bethlehem with gold, frankincense, and myrrh because they had spent most of the summer and fall contemplating the perfect baby gifts for Mary and Joseph?  They are dudes.  And dudes need a Christmas list to go shopping or they will always – ALWAYS – come back with a six-pack, a gift card and a t-shirt with the logo of their favorite NFL team.  Because they want you to be happy while you’re watching the playoffs drinking the six pack.  To remedy that, the Angel Gabriel showed up one night and gave the three Wise Men Jesus’ Christmas list.  Scholars still debate why Jesus chose those things.  But its in the Bible so who are we to question it.  So if you still want to be one of those people who ignores the biblical foundations of Christmas lists whilst deriding the gift choices of the three Wise Men, go ahead, but don’t expect me to follow along.  The Angel Gabriel and I will be at the mall with our lists shopping for gifts…

A couple things about the food…

If you recall, last year I wrote a post about the reasons certain folks hate Thanksgiving.  I had a lot of fun writing it.  So I did it again.  You can read it below.  But Mom thought I was bit too rantastic, and by that she meant I was mean, in my own disdain for the Left’s feelings about Thanksgiving.  So I tried to find some common ground with the Haters.

After some brief, albeit shallow, research I discovered that one of the ajor complaints about Thanksgiving among Thanksgiving Haters is the food.  And, truth be told, I kinda have some sympathy for them here.

For example, yams.  What the hell is a yam?  Yam sounds like something Patriots fans yell when Tom Brady hits Gronk for a first down on 3rd and 15.  “Yam baby!  Brady is yamming the Jets today!”  But it doesn’t sound like food.  Turns out yams should be the Left’s favorite Thanksgiving food.  70% of the world’s yams are produced in Nigeria.  They were imported from Africa to the Caribbean during the Slave trade.  Yams have a bit of identity crisis and they are often mistaken for sweet potatoes and often treated and prepared as if they, in fact, are sweet potatoes.  In vegetable circles, this is known as Sweet Potato Privilege.  Yam interest groups, in their fight for vegetable equality, are pushing Big Vegetable to change production practices in order end institutional yamism.  While efforts in the Vegetable Congress have focused on raising taxes on sweet potatoes and using the new revenue to provide free yams to consumers regardless of yam demand.

Cranberry sauce.  This is not a sauce.  It is also not edible.  It’s a canned tube of gelatin.  Cranberry sauce is jello’s a-hole cousin that nobody likes but still shows up at Thanksgiving to regale everyone with it’s tales of awesomeness while pointing out to everybody what they’re doing wrong.  When not being served at Thanksgiving, it doubles as the gel used to test ballistics on spent rounds of ammunition in crime labs across the country.

Butter.  I totally understand and generally endorse the use of butter to turn crescent rolls into carby, oily wonderfulness.  But, and let me be clear about this, the butter on the mashed potatoes in the huge bowl should not be pooling into small ponds deep enough that if, by accident of course, a crescent roll slid off your plate into the aforementioned butter pond, it would be completely submersed and require the use of commercial tongs to retrieve.  If you go to the mashed taters and Hudson Bay is present, just walk by.  You can’t eat that.

Greenbean casserole.  Stop trying to trick me by combining green beans with fried onions, cream of mushroom soup and cheddar cheese.  They’re still green beans.  And along with broccoli and cauliflower, represent a triumvirate of things I hope to avoid on Thanksgiving.  Other things I hope to avoid on Thanksgiving: any discussion of broadway musicals, watching the Cowboys win, and defending my natural tendency to believe beer is always appropriate as a beverage.

Giblets.  Dude, they are sealed in a bag and placed into the body cavity of the bird.  That all sounds ominous.  Like the turkey zombie virus is carried by the giblets so they have to be sealed in a bag to prevent an outbreak.

Marshmallows.  I mean…what!?  When in the hell did it become okay to 1) put marshmallows on anything other than a smore, and 2) serve them on Thanksgiving?  Stop doing it.  What’s next?  Are you going to serve shrimp ceviche, ahi tuna and oyster casserole?

So there you have it, the Thanksgiving haters have one gripe that I’m willing to entertain.  Briefly.  Otherwise, shut up and enjoy the rest of your pumpkin ales and Octoberfest beers, the pie and the, well, the pie.  Also just a couple more weeks until Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Thanksgiving Debate

I really can’t let it go.  The Thanksgiving Haters fascinate me.  The day is about gratitude, family and/or friends and traditions.  Yet many folks simply can’t let the rest of us enjoy it.  They can’t keep the hate to themselves.  They have to make a statement regarding their enlightened views on the holiday.  If you hate Thanksgiving, why do I have to be part of the hate?  Go ahead and hate it.  I know it’s cool amongst smug know it all progressive leftists to hate Thanksgiving.  I understand that the haters believe Thanksgiving is a holiday created by a morally bankrupt America that celebrates murder, genocide and oppression.  And I think its funny that you all get together in faux abhorrence this time of year with your lattes and wax on about the plight of the indigenous peoples of the New World while lamenting your own wretched Caucasian genes and carrying all that white guilt.

 

Now you may be thinking that I’m just a sarcastic intellectually dishonest jerk?  And I’m not going to lie, I do enjoy sarcasm and have often employed it inappropriately.  But while you’re shaking your head in sanctimonious patronizing self-assuredness, read what University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen wrote in his article “How I Stopped Hating Thanksgiving and Learned to Be Afraid” in CommonDreams.org just before Thanksgiving back in 2009.

 

“Although it’s well known to anyone who wants to know, let me summarize the argument against Thanksgiving: European invaders exterminated nearly the entire indigenous population to create the United States. Without that holocaust, the United States as we know it would not exist. The United States celebrates a Thanksgiving Day holiday dominated not by atonement for that horrendous crime against humanity but by a falsified account of the “encounter” between Europeans and American Indians.  When confronted with this, most people in the United States (outside of indigenous communities) ignore the history or attack those who make the argument. This is intellectually dishonest, politically irresponsible, and morally bankrupt.”

 

So, anyway, again for those who care to know, here’s a quick summary of the “falsified” history of Thanksgiving we were all taught.  The first Thanksgiving was in 1621.  The Pilgrims hopped aboard the Mayflower, crossed the Atlantic, and smacked into Plymouth Rock.  Then, those who survived that first winter in Massachusetts celebrated their good fortune with the new neighbors, the Wampanoag.  And like most neighbors they didn’t always get along.  But on this day they evidently did.  However, like many family gatherings, it led to emergency room visits over the next several years.  Most of the Left’s abhorrence regarding the holiday emanates here.  You can choose to debate them.  Or you can shake your head in mock appreciation and just make fun of them.  It’s easier, takes less time and it makes them mad.

 

So here’s a rapid-fire Chronicles of Dad rundown of Turkey Days since the pilgrims.  According to History.com, for the 150 or so years after that first Thanksgiving, New England settlers celebrated days of thanksgiving on an occasional and sometimes annual basis.  The menu was diverse.  And by this I mean they killed things and ate them.  Then in 1789 George Washington “issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.”  Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson did not.

 

New York was the first state to officially name Thanksgiving a holiday in 1817 even though New Hampshire and Massachusetts both held days of Thanksgiving in 1816. In 1827, Sarah Josepha Hale, the first woman magazine editor in America, began a 36 year campaign to have Thanksgiving named a national holiday.  In 1863, President Lincoln finally agreed.  With the Civil War at its peak Lincoln wrote that all Americans should ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”  Abe named the final Thursday in November as the day and right up until 1939 that’s the way it was.  That’s when FDR tried to move Thanksgiving from Lincoln’s designated day up a week to give the country an economic boost through an additional week of Christmas shopping.  It would seem liberals need to control the economy extends to changing national holidays.  Then in 1941 Congress and FDR permanently established the fourth Thursday in November as a national holiday.

 

In 1924 Macy’s began its traditional Thanksgiving Day Parade.  And despite its inherent corporate greed, liberals and progressives have been to known to attend and even watch it on TV.  Rumor has it though that the ensuing self-loathing results in skyrocketing profits for the makers of Prozac and Zoloft… furthering the self-loathing and profits.

 

About ten years later, the Lions started playing, and losing, on Thanksgiving. Then in the 60’s the Cowboys got in on it because they assumed everybody wanted to watch them.  The TV networks got involved and made it awesome.  Then in 1988 “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” soared up the charts which of course led to the hair metal power ballad becoming intertwined with Thanksgiving.

 

Which of course leads back the central questions of how exactly were George Washington, Sarah Hale, Abe Lincoln, the Detroit Lions and Poison engaged in the “genocidal campaign against indigenous people that is central to the creation of the United States”?

 

Or we can all just enjoy the day…