Thursday, March 30, 2006

Not For Dial-Up

Just wanted to post some recent drawings by the 5 year old:
  • Cat:3 legs for perspective, not because he can't count.

  • Mother apatosaurus with child (Stick figure for sizing). He also did a rhinoceros picture just like this but three pics is my limit tonight.

  • T. Rex fossils
  • Wednesday, March 29, 2006


    Someone told me, a long time ago, that cleaning your ears with Q-tips pushes wax deeper into your ear where you cannot get it out and that, instead, you should buy some ear-cleaning kit with a turkey-baster thing and ear-cleaning solution to flush it all out.

    Does anyone actually do that? I like cleaning my ears with Q-tips.

    Darlin' Don't You Go and Cut Your Hair. Do You Think it's Gonna Make Him Change?

    To all the dads who dread the morning chore of putting their daughter's hair in a ponytail, I have just come across the most revolutionary discovery: THE HEADBAND. Headbands are awesome. Try them out.

    And to all the over-achieving dads who make pigtails or even braid their daughter's hair: My hat is off to you.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    V for Effort. Make that an E.

    I went and watched V for Vendetta over the weekend. I was entertained but it wasn't as good as the first Matrix movie or even Constantine. I do okay with subversive movies and I suspect that people who don't will not like this movie. If you can't handle 15 minutes of Starship Troopers you probably won't like V.

    The main reason to see V in the theater is to get the full of effect of the simultaneous expolsions, classical music and fireworks as V blows up historical British landmarks. The movie can get slow in parts, I was hoping for a little more action. I did like the touch of the "star/victim" of the most recent version of the film "1984" as the corrupt chancellor in V.

    Here are my criticisms:

  • Natalie Portman's role was not good enough. She's a good actor who appears in a lot of hit movies, and yet her most stand out performance has been that piece of crap "Where the heart is" because she doesn't get very good roles. "Garden State" was alright but it didn't show her ability. And "Star Wars," bah! She didn't have the will live, let alone to save the prequels.

  • I suspect the writers used current U.S. events to parallel as examples of the corrupt oppressive rule of the future so in the film they sort of seemed cliche. Maybe that's because I read the news. To people who don't read the news it might have been mind-blowing stuff. The banning of art and books seems cliched, too.

  • The plots of V didn't seem any better than the vile actions of the oppressive government. While I am all for standing against oppression, I'm still not an anarchist.

  • The subplot about liberation through "coming out of the closet" was granted too much time. Probably has to do with one of the Warchowski brother's going through medical alterations to become a Warchowski sister.

  • The themes should have been more ethical instead of political. Acceptance should be a virtue regardless of your political pursuasion.

  • The most unbelievable part of the movie was the calm composure of the everyday people as they overthrew their government. I really wish people could be like that but there are too many morons out there for that to be a reality. In real life it would have turned into a riot faster than you could say "Rodney King" or "The Lakers won the championship."

    I like the theme of removing oppression but it's been done better in other movies. Still, it's more fun to watch others liberate themselves from corrupt rule rather than take on the task of removing our own.
  • Classic Cartoon Violence

    Once in awhile my kids and I watch Tom and Jerry reruns on Cartoon Network. There is rarely any speaking. It's mostly slapstick and violence but we are all entertained. I wouldn't think of myself as someone to support cartoon violence but when an episode opens with Tom the cat lazing in an armchair on a summer afternoon playing paddleball where he has replaced the rubber ball with Jerry the mouse, I start laughing.

    In an episode we just saw there is a buckaroo mouse who travels around with his guitar performing the song "Froggy went a' courtin'" for anyone who will listen. At key moments of his performance he always breaks a string on his guitar and Tom the cat always busts up laughing at the singer's misfortune. Then the mouse will do something like reach out of the television and pull out Tom's whiskers or something.

    It's not what Mary Poppins would teach but it doesn't seem that bad and it sure makes me laugh.

    Sunday, March 26, 2006

    Run for the Border

    Tonight they had me moving matresses and really heavy furniture at work. When you do that they give you a "temp" to help you out. They call these temps "perma-temps" because they work there everyday. Basically, it is safe to assume they are illegals from Mexico. The last temp I worked with acted just like all the other losers I work with, just in Spanish. He commented on every girl he saw (I learned that "caliente" means "horny" in addition to meaning "hot."), he talked about how he doesn't like being stereo-typed as a Mexican even though he stereotyped others: "Chinese don't know nothing. Nobody in China is educated." When he asked me what my heritage was and I said, "Native American... Indian." He asked, quite seriously, "Don't you think there are too many Indians in this country?" I said, "Maybe if you count all the white people who think they are Indian." Otherwise, the answer is "never."

    But the temp I worked with tonight was really nice. He said to call him "Yair-moe" (Guillermo). I started asking about his life when he saw a baby-bath-pillow that was going to be loaded onto a truck and he got all sentimental. I asked, "Are you having a baby?" He said, "Some day." I asked, "Are you married?" He said, "June 10th."

    He said he's been in the United States for almost a year. He used to attend a university in Mexico, that's where he learned English. He said he studied Electronics and that the Mexican government told the people in his city that the Ford Motor Company Factory in their city was one of the most promising opportunities a worker could have, so he went and got a job there. He said he welded the exhaust systems on Lincolns, Mercurys and Fords (including the new Ford Fusion). He said Ford paid him $40 a week (400 pesos). When he found out that the people working at Ford who had the same degree he was trying to attain in school made the same pay he did, he quit school and quit Ford. He decided to get serious about life. He left his girlfriend in Mexico and he is in Utah until it's time for his wedding to earn money for the festivities and to get started in life (he said he originally chose Canada to make money but he was worried he would lose his car if he went there). He also intends to buy a lot of tools here that he can use to make a living in Mexico. I told him he could try his hand at online auctions if the economy was really bad where he lived; in the sense that it's a viable way to draw money to a place that doesn't have any.

    Don't worry, Fraud Squad, he seems like a level headed guy who wants to work hard and earn what he's after. But he's just now figuring out that working hard isn't enough, you know, the whole "dog eat dog" thing. I was exalted in his misery: He said, "You are 29? I'm 24. You look younger than me. And you're stronger than me (we were moving some heavy, heavy stuff). I feel old."

    I said, "I've been lifting heavy boxes five days a week since December and you have a mustache."

    Work Quirks

    I know you probably think my job is strange enough but I wanted to tell even more things that make it odd. I'm not talking about our Tug drag races (with or without a skier being pulled behind) or dangling from the lifts by our safety harnesses, I mean strange things you don't notice right away.

    For instance, every payday each worker is given a new pair of work gloves by the management. The workers need to be able to push little buttons on our laser scanners as we work so everyone whips out their knives and dismembers the thumb and fore-finger from every new glove. And for days and days there are hundreds of severed rubber fingers and thumbs bouncing around the floor of the warehouse. Trust me, it's strange.

    I was driving my tug through a remote corner of our million-square-foot warehouse and caught something creepy out of the corner of my eye. I did a double take to find that the corner is filled with sculptures of angels and ladies in crude cages, upright and laying on the floor, just strewn about. I tried to take a picture of this but just snapped it fast so my bosses wouldn't think I was up to something.

    Another strange thing is this short, full-figured guy named Carl who flies off the handle any time you talk to him. He has buzzed red hair and the girliest figure you have ever seen on a man. He's really curvy. I can't get over it.

    I also wanted to include a picture of the wound on my finger; I shishkabobbed my finger on a piece of wood too big to be called a splinter tonight. My camera couldn't take a good close-up though. Oh well.

    Finally, my favorite thing about work: George. George is cool. He's originally from Ghana, Africa but moved to the US from England. He hardly ever speaks, except when he's on his cell phone speaking a language I can't identify. The cool thing about George is that he's got the groove in his heart. If he hears a radio pumping out a fat beat he's more likely than not to bust a move that would make Michael Jackson sit down and take notes. One second, George will be calling out item numbers and pushing buttons on his gun, next second his whole body is wagging like he's going to fly away. He can't help it. He was stuck in a warehouse traffic jam with people all around him tonight and that Kanye West song "Gold Digger" started playing. I think he was trying to resist but George started bobbing his head and he couldn't bob his head without swaying his shoulders and then it spread to his hips... everyone started laughing. I said, "Get down, George, go 'head get down."

    George says he's going to stay in America because his wife will be having a baby soon. His wife will braid your hair in corn rows if you make their family dinner.

    I'm sure I've forgotten about twenty other things but that's enough for now.

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Red Suspenders

    You know that my job situation has been shaky lately, so recently I was just looking around at other careers. I looked up how to become a firefighter.

    I'm not making fun of firefighters and I would gladly work in a fire fighting position over any job I have ever had but several things about that webpage struck me as odd or amusing.

    For example, these "Frequently Asked Questions" in regard to completing the application process:

    51. What do I wear to the polygraph?

    53. What do I do next after failing the polygraph test?

    54. Are polygraph tests lying to us? (Of course YOU would think so, you just failed.)

    It can be a daunting road to become a firefighter. Common qualifications of 2 years of fire school, tough physical tests and becoming a paramedic (easy, right?) and volunteer work at your local station are all recommended. To receive an official badge, it is likely you will need to begin your career in a place you do not wish to live.

    How does the author describe being a rookie firefighter? You know, after you just spent years of your life plowing through school, taxing your body and volunteering to get there:

    He describes going over drills all througout the day, but mostly he describes doing housekeeping for the senior firemen. Making coffee, doing dishes, getting the newspaper and laying it out, cleaning up their messes.


    ...12:00 p.m. lunch time, I am always the last to gather my plate unless ordered otherwise and I usually take the smallest portion. Even though I’m the last to sit down and eat, I’m always the 1st to get up and get in the suds. Do I eat so fast that I don’t even taste the food most of the time, answer is probably. I do dishes till the cook for the day calls for a “game for dishes” which entails some card or dice game where I will intentionally lose because at the end of the game do you think its good to see the rookie at the table while his captains are in the suds…HELL NO...

    My typical day as a rookie starts off at 4:30 am... 1:30 a.m. I finally go to sleep when the last member of my crew has gone to sleep.

    Oh yeah in addition (you need to expect) the “GAMES” that the senior firefighters like to play with the rookie at whatever time of the day/night they please."

    If I, personally, worked that hard to become a firefighter, I would have a difficult time letting myself be treated like some fraternity pledge. Maybe I am not a good sport but is there any profession that does not rob you of your dignity before rewarding you? Is it just human nature that established members ABSOLUTELY MUST demean the new? I've never been frat-boy material.

    Here are some excerpts regarding firefighter pay:

    The average firefighter salary range is $50,000-$65,000. The work schedule of a firefighter consists of two 24-hour days per week, for an average of 8 days per month. Because of the many days firefighters normally have off during a month, many firefighters maintain a second job to supplement their income. These second careers consist of salesmen, ambulance drivers, accountants, landscapers, contractors, attorneys... (basically anything).

    I don't know if that sounds good or not. I hope you learned something about firefighters.

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    All Nighter

    The other day my mother-in-law asked me if I could help her son with his Chemistry homework, as he is doing poorly in the class. He just turned 17. Tonight I went to help him. He is doing poorly enough that he doesn't even bother to take the book home. He had a few sheets of homework and most of them were filled out correctly --- just figuring out molarity. It all revolves around one equation. If you can do one, you can do them all. (Divide the grams of your solute by their molecular weight to get "moles" and then divide that by the amount of the solvent in liters. Boom. Molarity. If it's a solid, rather than a liquid, it's called "molality." Most of Chemistry is just a big science vocabulary test.)

    It's always fun to do the homework when you already know how to do it. Like how you wish you can grab the pencil and fly through your kindergartener's homework packet. You know what all of the pictures will be before you've connected the dots.

    I was thinking that it's funny that it's such a priority to teach this stuff to young kids when they could really care less and anyone who's moved beyond high school is abandoned. After high school, you have to make a special point of learning anything or knowing it's significance (and worse, you have to pay tuition and jump through those hoops if you want a document saying that you know it).

    I picture a perfect society where a portion of the work week is dedicated just to maintaining basic math skills. Last week the bosses told us (in so many words) the company had checked out wages at similar jobs and decided to give us all a five percent raise (the turnover is already bad enough). Later I heard Shrek saying, "that's like a $.54 raise. It's like an extra $3000 a year."

    I said, "Actually, if the raise comes off our base pay (which I'm sure it does), it's more like $.45."

    Shrek freaked out. He went to his friend who had done the math for him. They were both so upset that they brought it up with our bosses in our nightly meeting. I really didn't have the heart to tell them it would be nowhere near $3000 a year and I didn't want to suffer through watching him attempt math to prove it.

    I hate school but love learning. My goal is to never again be employed in a "Dilbert-esque" atmosphere. My goal is not to be employed with monkeys on heavy machinery. My goal is to actually redeem all those college credits and get a degree. I guess it all depends on when my kids can get by without a parent.

    My biggest mistake was to go to college thinking I was doing it to make myself a better person and persue my interests. That is the worst thing you could ever do. Go to school with a WELL PAYING career in mind and don't stop until you're there. Forget your friends. Forget your family. Forget the outside world or life-experiences.

    I had no guidance and now I pay the price. Here is what I was told by two advisors from two of the largest schools in Utah:

    Advisor: "Why did you want to see me?"
    Me: "Because I've been in school for three years and I've never spoken to an advisor."
    Advisor: "That's not my fault."

    That's the meat of the conversation. He gave me a schedule of classes I should take over the next year. When I went to register, half the classes were not offered.

    The next time I talked to an advisor, I was married and had a toddler, I worked full time and went to school full time taking killer classes. I did fine the first semester but was nose-diving the following semester. I went to an advisor to see if he could help me.

    Me: "I feel guilty about not spending time with my son. Work takes up all the time I need to study. What do you think?"
    Advisor: "What kind of work do you do?"
    Me: "Stopping internet fraud."
    Advisor: "Well. Preventing internet fraud is important and I would imagine it's interesting... but is it more important than your education and your career plans?"

    I was somewhat baffled at the question. I didn't know how many steps backward I needed to take to explain that I didn't work recreationally. I had what was known as "responsibilities." I wanted to tell him that I would pitch the idea of eating rats under a bridge for the next few years to my family so we could make my education our top priority. I already knew how my wife would feel about that scenario.

    Is there such a thing as an advisor who understands the basic workings of our social structure and who doesn't just want to point fingers?

    I'm going back to help my brother-in-law some more tomorrow. Maybe I can make Chemistry seem interesting and explain things in a way that is applicable to the world we live in.

    Mostly I want a vacation. I haven't had one since we bought our house, unless you count the four days we spent driving to Cali and back when my grandpa died. They probably won't be impressed at work if the new guy asks for a week off.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    No Sanctuary

    I won't say that I almost got into a fist-fight tonight, but some stupid gangster at work got all up in my face like he wanted to. The gangster comes in a few hours later than me and his job is to peel off all of the plastic and cardboard and bubblewrap from the couches like it's Christmas morning and to put together dressers and stuff before they are delivered to people's houses. He spread out all the furniture that we had lined up to make a little sanctuary for himself but he did not leave any room for us tuggers to drop off anymore furniture at that truck.

    When I showed up to drop off a couch I saw all of this and I started organizing the furniture to make room. The gangster noticed me and started cussing and yelling at me. He only said three sentences over and over: "Don't f**king touch that! This is my f**king job! Go do your f**king job!" Then he came stomping over to me like he meant business and started yelling them in my face. I think he was genuinely surprised that I didn't scamper off like some stray dog he had just kicked.

    First of all, I have illustrated how everyone I work with talks the talk but no one seems to walk the walk when it comes to being tough. This knowledge made it impossible to be scared. And "F**king do this, motherf**ker!" is how business gets done there. If I hear that 10 hours a day, everyday, then cussing at me to scare me off just isn't going to work. They have overused the words so much in trying to be tough all the time that they have become meaningless. Nothing short of a boxcutter in my face or the gangster with his dumb hat floating on his curly afro running at me with his fist in the air with his homeboys all beside him is going to make me back off.

    The sad part is that I think I have become truly apethetic enough that I was okay with the idea of letting him start a fistfight at two in the morning in a warehouse on the edge of town OVER COUCHES! You want to throw a punch because I moved your stupid couch? Be my guest. Just don't hit me in the zit.

    At my computer job the most pathetic part of my day was when I would microwave a burrito at 1 am and eat it alone... in silence... waiting to go back to my cubicle so I could just get another day over with. Being face to face with the couch moron brought back lame flashbacks of facing bullies when I was twelve years old. It was another highlight of pathetic work moments.

    The moron just kept shouting the same three sentences. I shouted, "I'm trying to do my job! You need to make room, there is MORE coming. If you don't do it, I WILL!" How is that for a threat? That's right. I'm pretty macho, too.

    Then I walked off, dropped off the couch and made more room that others could use.

    I know that everyone wants me to be happy. They want me to put a positive spin on what I see out there. But I'm just going to keep calling things as I see them. I know, I know: I need a new job. Yeah, yeah, I'll get right on that.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Saturday, What a Day

    A couple weeks ago my friend Ross' wife called my wife and said they had some tickets to Disney On Ice. I told you I don't care too much for Disney and I certainly don't care much for bastardized versions of "Finding Nemo" hacked out by second-rate ice skater/mimes/actors. We went anyway. About noon on Saturday, Ross called to tell us he still meant for us to go through with the half baked plans and we attended the two o'clock show at the Delta Center.

    It was a little taste of DisneyLand here in Salt Lake with vendors selling $10 snow cones and cotton candy. One old man came and stood by us barking about palm-sized Nemo toys. A lady asked, "How much are those?"

    He said, "These are $18 and these are $20." When nobody bought any he said, "Nobody wants to buy any of these? NOBODY? Well, I'll be..." and he walked away like we were all the worst parents in the world. I wished I had something to throw at him.

    I had to leave halfway through the show to go to work. How was your weekend?

    I have also forgotten to mention that Ross and Heidi had their third baby on Groundhog's Day. A boy named Everett. Sorry I forgot to tell everyone till now. Despite the fact that I drive a minivan, I am compelled to tease Ross for buying a minivan because he was such a hold out.

    Dan the Man, Down With the Program

    Dan the Man is our plumber. He's an awesome old man who likes to quote The A-team: I love it when a plan comes together. About two years ago, he and I replaced all of the water pipes in my house. He made me do as much as the work as I could to save money, like resetting the toilet and taking down all the old pipes with a sawzall. He even dropped off a jackhammer one night and told me to make a hole in the basement floor for a new floor drain.

    We called him on Friday to fix the leaky faucet in our bathtub and he showed up at 8:30 Monday morning. He finished in 30 minutes. He laughs hard at all his own jokes and remembered after two years that I worked a computer job. He even had an extended conversation with our two year old about Dora the Explorer.

    If you need a good plumber or a father figure here in the Salt Lake Valley, send me an email and I will hook you up.

    Kahka Pu Pu

    Forget all the benefits people blather about regarding teaching your infants sign language. Our 8 month old is completely fluent in all dialects of Ewok and Motorboat. Buh buh buh buh buh, aku tak tak.

    I'm always afraid to let him see himself in the mirror for fear that he will be disappointed that he is a wiggling lump of muscle and not a lean, mean jumping bean like his brother and sister are. Then again, maybe he is just happy he doesn't currently have a giant, painful blemish on the bridge of his nose like his daddy.

    Hands and Feet Inside the Car

    It's possible that I like writing stories as my escape and "letting things out." If I focused entirely on my daily life all you would get from me is endless details of hundreds of hours of moving furniture.


    1. This week we took our "Cowboy hat" neighbors to the health clinic again. We really don't mind taking a little time to take them places, since they can't drive. It's one thing to talk to them on the street (in the freshest air available), but it's another thing to be enclosed in a car with them. It takes a minute inside the car for the smell of stale cat crap and gasoline to overwhelm you and by then it's too late to come up with a reason to roll down the window. Then the smell lingers in the car for a couple of days.

    2. I don't mind manual labor, even with the cuts and bruises. I still prefer it to desk work. I can handle bosses that throw temper tantrums and call you "dumbass." I deal with working with morons who are likely to squish you to death with heavy machinery (you just have to stay on your car with no limbs exposed). But the other day after the ritualistic sexual harassment of female customers within earshot (There's tons of hot p***** down there! etc.) I mentioned, "A lot of the girls these guys talk about aren't even very good looking, but they talk about them like they are all Victoria Secret models."

    A guy who introduced himself to me as "Load Dog" replied, "I don't think Victoria has any secrets left. Ha ha ha. Have you seen Jeff Foxworthy?" At which point a lively conversation broke out about the joyful anticipation about the release of "Larry the Cable Guy's" upcoming movie.

    I never wanted to walk out on a job so badly. These people have nothing to offer me. After my experiences with work and school, I absolutely understand why people turn to drugs and alcohol (I don't encourage the use of these things, but I UNDERSTAND. Remember what Beck said, "The drugs won't kill your day job").

    Everyone at work is fond of saying, "I don't give a f***!" If that's true then why aren't you moving any of the heavy stuff? I think they DO care, they're just lazy and they think that saying those words makes them sound tough. But then, after a night of everyone not giving a f***, the place is a mess to the point that no one can even move and then they realize they have to clean up after themselves and do things that make it easier for EVERYONE to work.

    Speaking of projecting toughness: I think my coworkers all use music as a gauge of toughness. Ask them what bands they like and you will only get answers like "Slipknot" or "Mudvayne." There is a guy named Scottie who looks and walks exactly like Gordon (the blogger I link to), except he's not funny nor smart. Scottie has kind of a "captain of the football team" look to him and his face is all filled out from lots of beer drinking (those things aren't true of Gordon). I think I made Scottie really mad on my very first day when I asked him what music he listened to and he said, "Slayer" and I started laughing and I asked, "Aren't those guys like 50 years old and dead by now?"

    Maybe I will freak everyone out by taking a radio to work and blasting my wife's Olivia Newton John "Xanadu" CD through the warehouse. Forget about the Blues Tonight! Got some dancin' ta do!


    My wife: "I think I burnt your bagel."

    Me: "That's okay. I'll eat it. A burnt bagel fits in nicely with the rest of my life."

    My wife looks at me like she doesn't know where to begin the lecture I so desperately need.

    I try to top it off by shouting: "MY LIFE SUCKS!" But I accidently crack up laughing and ruin the whole effect.

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Nibbling at History

    Today Ethan came up to me with his bow and some suction-cup arrows in his hands and asked, "Dad, who is the guy on the dollar bill that killed a lot of Indians?"

    I said, "Andrew Jackson."

    Ethan turned to his little sister and said, "You're Andrew Jackson. You're trying to kill me."

    Ethan has already learned of presidents in school: George Washington was first and stars in a myth about a cherry tree and Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. We were at Costco trying to buy some pizza when I got a twenty out of an ATM. Ethan saw it and asked if it was George Washington on the bill. I told him who it was and the most notable thing about Jackson's presidency. It's a simplification but it will have to do until Ethan is old enough to understand the Trail of Tears.

    Saying that Jackson is an Indian Killer is more accurate than the older boys I overheard in Target proposing a game: "You be Adolf Hitler and I will be George W. Bush."

    Boys will be boys.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Baby is Leaving

    Babies are only babies for a few months. Then they get huge; big enough it looks strange that you're carrying them around in your arms. Our littlest one is on that fateful verge of crawling and speaking. There goes the quiet thoughtful stare I came to know. It becomes the age of "I want to do things for myself but I can't, so instead I'll scream about it." They find screaming is much more effective than merely crying in their old dolphin-style squeek.

    Our oldest one is past the perfect-four-year-old stage and has moved on to the point that he will leave the house and run across the street without telling you. The other day we were walking out to the car and, in a matter of seconds, I found him amid the January weather soaking wet and holding a DVD in his hand. I got really mad (it's the new and horrible me). I dragged him inside, "You don't take DVDs out of the house. You don't turn on the water (the outside spigot). You don't get soaking wet when we're leaving."

    He said, "Olivia turned the water on." She smiled at me and said, "Sorry, dad." The older kids like to piss each other off for fun. They are so surprised when they get in trouble for it and they pity themselves for having such a tyrant for a father. I'm zero-tolerance now and my only warning to them is to say, "Do you want me to get mad at you? Then stop now." They are very creative at coming up with ways to annoy: Dumping all the baby food into the bucket on the back of a tricycle. Stealing all the baby wipes to clean their toys or to use as blankets for all the sleeping toys they spread across the floor. They carry DVDs with them everywhere they go. If you give them a thimble full of juice in a garbage can, they can find a way to spill it across two rooms. Voila! Theater-quality sticky floors.

    We provide them with five meals a day and maybe two of them end up in their stomachs. I can't wait for puberty to settle them down.

    Kneading the Dough

    Over the years I have met several people who have attended school to learn Massage Therapy as a career. Guess where I met the bulk of them. At work. My work, not giving massages. Even the ones who give massages on the side still have a fulltime job somewhere else, you know, to pay off $10K in loans to the massage school.

    The unlucky guy I mentioned said he met his wife while they both attended massage school. Neither of them do massage for income. I told him, "At least you got a wife out of school. That has to be worth something."

    I know the schools like to sell the idea of a career on a cruise ship or at a vacation resort and that some people may actually do that, but I'm getting the impression that people who support themselves this way are few and far between. I would be curious to know the ratio of jobs performing massages and the number of students who attend the schools for this career. I guess the numbers are heavily lobsided.

    I conclude that massages are much more effective for finding a life partner than they are for a stable living. You can keep your $10K.

    What Up?

    Little things I've thought about lately:

    Why put spinning hubcaps on a minivan or even low profile tires and big "dubs" on any truck or SUV? The cool parents at school have them.

    Why can't you buy Mr. Pibb in cans?(not that I would)

    When did it become appropriate to use the word "piehole" in a commercial for a children's breakfast cereal? Wouldn't "empty-calorie-hole" be a better fit?

    Speaking of which, can the fellas put a schedule together to "check up" on Beyonce tonight and every night so she can zip her bootylicious piehole about it?

    Tragedy magnets. I'm not talking about myself. There is a guy at work and his pregnant wife developed an infection and they had to give up the baby. The wife is still sick. This guy also suffers from serious problems with his liver. He holds one arm tight against his gut all night and tries to move furniture with the other. Don't ask me what he does when he has to lift a 350 pound curio into an upright position. The other day we were waiting for day-shift to leave and we were standing around the trash compactor. Some dummy was throwing in a bunch of smashed up pallets and ended up hitting the unlucky guy square in the forehead with a six-foot 2X4. I told him to go report it in case he needs treatment for it. He won't. I don't know why he took this job. He doesn't even try. He will probably be gone by next month, one way or another.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Let's All Take Turns As the "I" in TEAM

    Time is scarce. I work a lot, take care of the kids and now we've even thrown in research on buying and selling homes. Sorry about the neglect but the universe has not shifted and the blog is not at the center of the swirling mass.

    I finally had my "training and orientation" at the furniture store job today. After three weeks of working they officially showed my how to use industrial equipment like forklifts, including the terminology like "load center" and "stability triangle," and then they made me sign a paper promising never to operate machinery I haven't been trained on. Starting..... NOW!

    Orientation was difficult. I almost made several outbursts and was constantly laughing into my shoulder. It was a strange combination of warehouse dudes and salesmen. The salesmen had NO sense of humor. I thought orientation would make me excited about work, as this is where jobs usually describe in great detail all the ways that they are going to take care of you. But it was just a lot of talk about how "Big Brother is watching" and telling us not to do all the things my bosses do. They won't tolerate harassment, they say, as I described for you earlier.

    The health "benefits" are $400 per month. There is no company stock plan unless you want to invest in Warren Buffet, who owns this and many, many other companies. They mentioned the 401k several times over 3.5 hours and in the final minutes I asked what percentage the company matched. The HR lady intentionally coughed as she responded, "Thrrr...percent."

    I asked, "Thirty percent?"

    "THREE percent." She said.

    And then all the salesmen agreed that only some fantasy employer would ever give you a 30% match. It was EVERYTHING I could do not to say, "They sure use a lot of paper and pamphlets to describe such lousy, lousy benefits."

    I put my soul into ruin at my desk job. I'm willing to grind my body to dust moving furniture. And I'm not sure what I will have left to work with after that... but I was willing to go on with this for my personal cause. But now I think I finally agree with my wife that I can do better. I was sorely disappointed in my coworkers that none of them thought of these benefits as horrible. Even the store discount was "cost plus 22%." Costco won't mark up ANYTHING over 14% above cost. Makes me want to put a baggie over my hand before I pick up my company discount and put it in the trash.

    My coworkers were even annoyed with me for asking questions. They wanted to go home. I wanted to know how my employer was going to take care of my family. I don't mind being the "i" in team but I think it should look more like: Team! (with the "i" inverted)

    Back to the grindstone. The fact that the mortgage-man looked at our credit (even with my work history over the past four months) and approved us for $50,000 MORE than what we were approved for when we bought our current house just makes me think lenders are careless and desperate. So maybe we're all in it together.

    Brown Sugar, How Come You Taste So Good?

    Is it my imagination or have teenaged fastfood workers all been replaced by older minority women? I guess the teenaged set has all been consumed by telemarketing and hotel greeter positions, huh? I just get a horrible feeling in my gut (assumably unrelated to the garbage I'm about to send down my tongue wagging disposal) at the prospect of anyone's grandma switching out the soda syrup and picking up my wrappers.

    When I took our kids to Burger King to play on the slide a little while ago, several customers lit up at our striking family. One old guy said, "That's what we need to see in these restaurants" in reference to the smiling little faces I sired that seemed to serve as his springboard into nastalgia.

    An exhausted voice asked, "What would you like to order?" and then the manager (inspired by the old guy) came up and suggested, "You need to be more energetic when you're helping the customers" and then the manager smiled and his head wobbled around like it was about to completely unscrew, "WHAT would you like to ORDER?"

    But it takes strength that I know I don't have for these people just to show up to work. Cut them some slack, manager. The job prospects under the golden arches or between the flame broiled buns are much worse than even what I am facing. Liberate the little brown mamas.

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Dancing Queen

    While our daughter is in her dance classes, parents have the option to leave or to wait in the lobby with the other parents. On the first day of dance classes we chatted a little bit with some of the other moms. One mom said that this was her daughter's second year in dance classes but she had almost chosen not to enrolled her again, "you know... because of the neighborhood," she said.

    Our neighborhood is not the fanciest neighborhood but we have found nothing to be scared of here. It actually seems a bit more alive than most neighborhoods. But we assumed she must know something about the neighborhood we didn't and we didn't make an issue of it.

    We don't stay during the classes. My wife goes to pick up our daughter a few minutes before class ends. When she walks in, she is constantly overhearing that same mother regaling the other mothers with personal stories built around statements such as "These are the drugs I will never do again and here is why..." or "I don't think that it is okay to sleep around, it's just that I've really liked all the guys I've been with..." (What choice did she have?).

    When my wife finishes telling me each weeks developments, I tease her, "Way to direct your husband to the girl who 'just can't help herself.'" But given the girl's sordid past, I wonder what type of people in our neighborhood this druggie slut is worried about to the point she would deny her daughter dance classes. The type who know about the skeletons in her closet?

    I know this is gossip but it's not like I'm naming names here. I don't really think of her as a druggie or a slut, I just use this as an example of how I think people are funny. Funny in a "laughing at you" kind of way. Rock on.

    Thursday, March 02, 2006


    In life, it seems like most problems can be solved by money. It's easy to think a job or unrequited feelings are the source of most problems. But little things have a way of sending ripples through your life as well. For instance, this week there has been a yellowish, crescent-shaped wedge splitting apart my family: My overgrown toenails.

    I've just been busy. While I've managed to keep my teeth brushed and even my fingernails trimmed, my toenails have been neglected. This led to several unintentional clawings and all sorts feelings of discontent. Today I made fast work of clipping those dead cells and depositing them in the garbage can. A funk has immediately been lifted from my universe.

    So if you are in a funk and can't figure out why, try clipping your nails. If you have nothing better to do you could brush your teeth again or, heaven forbid, floss. Just thought I'd spread some of the wisdom of my many philosophies on life.


    We don't know for certain, but most of our future plans involve selling our house this summer. I talked to a broker and he told us they would make us the lovely deal of charging ONLY $11,000 in fees to list our cottage for sale. My wife has a friend who sells houses but in that business it seems like even friends are not very helpful. If we could get our house listed with an MLS number I'm sure it would sell itself though I know nothing of the paperwork involved. Does anyone have any advice on the best way to sell a house?

    Wednesday, March 01, 2006

    Getting Screwed at the Drive-Thru

    I've been having bad luck at fast food drive-thrus lately. About a week ago we stopped by KFC. The only thing my wife will eat there is a chicken pot-pie, so when the big board buzzbox told me they were out of pot-pies I hit the gas and swerved around the car ahead of me to leave. I barely realized that I had nearly killed some old man wearing a leather jacket as he came zipping through the drive-thru corridor on his motorized wheelchair. I felt bad but I am also a little upset at the man because what the hell was he doing cruising in my blindspot in a fast food drive thru in his wheelchair? I'm just glad I didn't hit him. It's probably the closest I've ever come to killing someone.

    Tonight it was wet and miserable weather so we let the kids talk us into taking them to Burger King to play on the slides again. But I wasn't going to eat there. So on the way home I stopped for some tacos. Waiting to place an order, I was five feet away with my headlights on when I saw the backup lights on the Infiniti sedan in front of me turn on. When the car started to roll back toward me I laid on the horn. She backed right into our van anyway.

    The driver stepped out of her car and approached to assess the damage. She said, "I didn't see you there. And I looked. But I stopped as soon as I heard you yell (referring to my horn, I guess)."

    I immediately forgave her as I was certain she was utterly retarded. But I did have misgivings about letting her continue to operate that big piece of machinery. I didn't realize the "High Maintenance" bumper sticker on the rear of her car applied to everyone in her vicinity. It does. The taco sellers were all pumped up about it, as they had watched the whole thing on their parking lot cameras.

    No real harm has been done but maybe I'll start going inside and just ordering to go instead.