Monthly Archive for May, 2011

In case you didn’t know…

People are stupid.

There is a company named Opera, makers of the browser by the same name.  They are located in Norway.  They have, over the years, received letters for Oprah.  In light of the end of her show, they have collected some to of the best here.  Pretty funny.

After visits from parents and the death of friends, the Cursing Mommy has the cure…

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone and read her column.  Here she give instructions on making easy drinks.  Which is always a good way to fix what ails you.  She mentions the vodka gimlet (and I have mentioned this back in the early days of this blog).

Some day, I will have to tell the story of the vodka gimlets and the first time I encountered Pac Man.  That will age me.

She also mentions “Make Your Own Damn Dinner” night.  This is still a regular feature around my household.

A friend of mine committed suicide last week…

And I am pissed.

The guy had been sick.  He’d been on who knows what medications.  He was probably exhausted with the treatments and the pain.  I really have no idea about what he was actually going through.  I did expect him to man up and tough it out.  That is what husbands and fathers do.  Maybe that is unreasonable of me.  I, however, don’t think so.

He wasn’t a particularly good friend.  He never called to invite me out for a beer.  But, then again, I never called him to go out for a beer.  This was an incredibly popular guy.  It was sometimes difficult to talk with him at a large social event, because he was so popular.  But, when I was talking to him, he made me feel like I was one of his good friends.  You all have known someone like this.  They are special people.  It is rare to be liked by everyone you meet.

The reason I am mad, is that he left behind children.

I would like to grab him by the collar and ask, “What the hell were you thinking?”

Of course I can’t do that now.

The only thing left that I can do is to make certain that my kids at least try to include his kids in their activities.  (Since his family, like mine, is fairly involved in our parish, there are two or three dozen other fathers telling their kids the same thing.)

There are all sorts of wild rumor and speculation about what led him to take his life.  I don’t care if the worst of the talk is true, I’m still pissed.

I think the widow will survive and recover.  Someday.  I don’t for a minute think it will be pleasant.  She’s strong and she has good friends.

I wonder about the kids.  I have been worrying about the kids.  They have been in my home.  Several times.  I like them.  They have delightful senses of humor, and they are bright.  Any of you would love to have your children be friends with these kids.

In the future when they are in a group of people telling stories (like I have below) about their parents, they will be silent, or be reminded of last week.  I feel very sorry for them.  I think they will mostly feel like their father didn’t love them.  It’s hard enough to have strong feelings towards your parents without them going off and doing something stupid like my friend.

I hope, should I face the difficulties he faced, be man enough to carry through to the end.  It is important to do so for the generation behind.  Really important.

I hope they don’t really expect me to stop working and entertain them…

My parents, as I said below, were visiting.  They left Monday morning.  My dad was finally overcome with the urge to move.  He was tired of sitting here and doing nothing for several days, so he was in a big hurry to go to my sister’s and sit and do nothing there.  They had to leave Monday, and I MEAN THEY HAD TO LEAVE, on a holiday.  They are on their way to Minneapolis.  I hope my sister is ready.

It will take them two days to get to Minneapolis.  They’ll probably stop for the night in the Kansas City area.  My dad has many relatives in the KC area.  I doubt he’ll call any of them.  As he said, you can’t just call and visit one of them, you have to see them all, or somebody’s feelings will be hurt.  (The thought of my father not visiting someone resulting in hurt feelings is kind of funny.)

My parent’s visit was one awkward moment after another.  We have never really fleshed out the bounds of expectations around their visit.  To be so frank with one another would be a ground breaking development within my family (I expect so in many others too).  I am, after their departure, left with the vague feeling that I did not meet their expectations for the visit.

It’s tough to tell though.  My dad has no interests.  When I say no interests, I mean no interests.  Oh, I guess he has one interest; he wants to know what you pay in property taxes.  I think he was made most uncomfortable by the fact that we don’t have any traditional TV to watch.  We ditched cable and satellite over a year ago.  The day he got here he was talking about the show “The Biggest Loser.”  I guess I set the tone for the visit by asking him why in the world he would waste his time on such a show.  He seemed a little miffed that he was going to miss the season finale.

Things weren’t much better with my mother.  There is a lot to unpack in my relationship with my mother; too much for my meager writing skills.  She’s a 12 stepper.  She falls off the wagon regularly, or better, irregularly, so you never know what to expect.  She’s also a drama queen.  Even when sober, she expects to be in the center of the action.  This has been the case since my teen years.  I’m kind of tired of the whole act.  There have been adventures along the way that have almost caused me to cut her out of my life completely.  Luckily, we had no such episodes on this visit.

(My brothers and sisters seem to be able to put up with her crap better than me.  They are, at least, more tolerable of her drunkenness.  I am the only to through her out of my house and tell her to never come back.  This was years before she, completely hammered, took my 2 year old son to the neighbor’s pool.  I think I am generous of spirit in this regard.)

They did get to see their grandson graduate from 8th grade (a big deal for us Catholics).  They also were there when he was awarded his scholarship for high school.  That should make them happy, for the most part anyway.

Since the day my parents arrived and now, especially, since they are gone, I have been wondering what makes for good guests.  I have been wondering what will keep my children from dreading my arrival when they have lives of their own in the future.

I guess the biggest thing to do is to have a plan.  I think my parents would be more enjoyable to have visit if they had an actual plan for what they were going to do while here.  This is something I can do better the next time they are here.  They need to have specific activities on the calendar.  I also need to make clear statements that we have other stuff going on (like work) when we are not scheduled to be with them.  They should not expect me to entertain them, they should entertain themselves.

I am going to have to be a nice guy tomorrow…

My wife has to drive out to Texarkana today.  It is a tax issue that needs her attention as her parents (in their 90’s) are not quite up to the task.  Since my parents are here, and as you can tell from my posts, they have an effect on the normal routine around our home, she thought she was going to get away from our chaos and get a little room to breathe.  That’s not happening; my mom has decided to go with her, since she would like to visit with my wife’s parents.  She wants to visit with people she’s seen twice and has not visited with in over a dozen years.

For my wife, this means three hours each way in the car with my mother.  Plus the time handling the taxes.  Plus dealing with her parents and my mother at the same time.

I would be drinking already this morning if that was the way my day looked.

I have work to do…

One of the reasons I started this blog was to work on my writing.  I know, that just like anything else worth doing, that writing more will make me a better writer.  But I have a long way to go.  Take a look at this little gem from Daphne at Jaded Haven:

Men and women who’ve chosen the shroud of public service to mask their guise as expedient whores, hungry cunts who gladly wrap their lying lips around lucrative corporate dick at the Republic’s expense.

That is a beautiful piece of work!

You also have to sneak to the computer…

When old people are around.  You can’t have them looking over your sholder while typing a post.  If you were to allow that, it would generate many, many questions about why I do this, how I do this, etc.

Having old people around the house…

The TV is on way loud.  People are snoring.  People are sitting around waiting to be entertained.

Revisiting a point made earlier…

The athletic director at my daughter’s high school is having budget trouble.  I am not surprised by this.  Every one is having budget trouble.  Part of his solution is to cut the size of the cross country team.  He doesn’t do this in a straightforward manner; he instead invokes a previously unenforced rule.

I believe what he’s really trying to do is to cut down on the expense of buses to meets.  That is a reasonable goal.  But why cut roster sizes for a sport that is known for allowing everybody to participate?  Why not ask us, the parents, if we would support a fee for the buses?

I really dislike this type of bureaucratic maneuver.  Instead of being honest, he tries to hide behind the authority of a higher governing body.  I have written the following letter to him:

May 21, 2011
Xxxx Xxxxxxx, Athletic Director
Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx
0000 Xxxxxx Xxxx Lane
Xxxxxx, Texas 00000
Subject: Seniors on the JV Cross Country Team
Dear Mr. Xxxxxxx,
I have become aware that you may have taken the position that having seniors participate on the JV cross country team violates Section 86 of the TAPPS By-Laws.  If this is your position, I respectfully ask that you rethink this policy in light of the “every one participates” nature of cross country.  If this is a policy change being advocated by TAPPS, I request that you protest this policy vigorously.  A senior on the JV cross country team does not push a freshman off the roster; every team member gets to race.
Cross country has always been a sport of participation for all.  The typical meet consists of two races.  The varsity race, normally limited to a roster of seven for a given school; and the JV race, which is everybody else.  This is the history of the sport.  This is the way it was while I participated in HS cross country more than 30 years ago.  The fans of the sport understand this too; they cheer even the slowest runner in the JV race, regardless of school affiliation.
Being a member of the cross country team is an important part of the Xxxxxxxx experience for my daughter.  My daughter, who will be a senior next year, will be one of those cut from the team should this policy take effect.  Being cut from the team will be a huge disappointment to my daughter and me.
I coach the cross country and track teams at St. Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx.  I believe that participation in sports does more to directly prepare Xxxxxxxx students for a life at work better than anything they will learn in the classroom.  Participation in sports teaches kids how to work toward a common goal with people they both love and hate.  It is just like being at work.
Please do not deny my daughter this important educational experience.


I’m certain keeping my daughter on the team will cost me some time and money between now and the start of the season next school year.  I really do think it is important for my kids to participate in team events.

Back in the dark ages when I was running cross country we didn’t take buses to meets.  The kids with access to cars drove everybody car pool style.  We would go from Minneapolis to meets in Duluth, Rochester and Northfield.  There was never a problem.  And, this being the seventies, on the way home from the Swain Invitational (the big meet in Duluth) we were likely drinking beer.  We had fun in the seventies.  It was awesome to grow up in a time when there was no adult supervision.

I suppose having the kids driving to the meets is now precluded by the litigious nature of our society theses days.  That and the fact that the kids that ran cross country in the seventies are now parents and most of today’s parents don’t want their children to have the freedom we enjoyed.

Side Note: While googling around to find how to spell “Swain” and looking for the official website of the meet, I came across this blog: News Tribune Attic.  The blog goes through the archives of the Duluth paper.  It is a very enjoyable read.  I came across this post on the 1969 Swain Invitational.  It included this awesome photo:

The caption:

…Swain (far left) poses with the champions of the 1969 event. From left, they are Tim Heisel of Hopkins (A race winner), Ed Holtz of Minneapolis Southwest (B race winner) and Tim Oliver of Proctor (sophomore race winner).

I was wearing the jersey Ed Holz wore that day seven years later.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivities…

Are in my experience, a crock.  Dr. Joy Bliss at Maggie’s Farm has an interesting post up pointing to an article about a woman in Sweden who claims to be allergice to electricity.  She also has a few words to say on Multiple Chemical Sensitivities.

The Multiple Chemical Sensitivity people, in my experience, have symptoms according to the situation they are in: if it costs someone else money (government, insurance carriers, etc.) they have the symptoms really bad; if it costs them money, the symptoms are not as severe.

When I had my kitchen design studio they would come in once in a while.  They would ask about formaldehyde free plywood and particle board.  They would ask about low/no volatile organic compound finishes.  I would assure them I could do the work.  I would assure them I could provide them with certifications by independent organizations that my materials would be provided as claimed.

They would get all excited until they found out the premium I had to charge in order to meet their job specifications.  They didn’t want to understand that using material that is different from the material 99% of other people use is more expensive.  They would then claim that “so and so” did not charge a premium and disappear.  I know the reality is that I educated them on the processes and materials and they then went to someone else that used typical materials after I presented my price.

I often felt sorry for the spouses (I should say husbands.  In my eperience it is only women that suffer from chemical sensitivites).  The sensitive one would come in for a few minutes, claim that there was something in my showroom that was bothering them and then go outside.  They would leave their spouse shuttling between me and them, as though the spouse were some sort of unpaid negotiator.  I always found this to be odd treatment of the partner.

I think the shrinks have a phrase to describe this type of behavior.