Monday, June 30, 2008


I was talking to a friend the other day and I said the word "data".

"It's data. The way you say it is annoying." She said to me.

I had flashbacks to my first time on an Ivy League campus where I was corrected on how I spoke several times. No, I did not go to an Ivy League school but the students there felt the need to correct my pronuniciation of several words.

Feeling very self-conscious, because my friends are very smart and bright people and I am not so much, I looked up the pronunciation of the word data. I used dictionary dot com, does anyone actually own a dictionary any more? I wanted to make sure I was saying it the correct way.

Both ways of pronouncing it are correct.

How do you pronounce data?

Day-Ta? or Datta?...

...and which way is annoying?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Subconscious Decisions

I figured something out about myself regarding a subconscious decision I make when I am dressing Maxfield and Wyatt.

When getting the kids dressed in the morning, if I know that we are going out to a public place or a party where there will be lots of other kids, I dress them both with the same color shirts. Not matching shirts just the same color. That way, when we are out and I scan the room or yard or park, I only have to look for one color shirt to locate my kids.

The last time I did this is when we went to my friend's farm for a picnic. I dressed both kids in green shirts. If I heard a cry or a shout or a commotion I just looked up and if I saw no green shirt by the commotion I knew my kids were not involved. I could relax.

I also realized that dressing your kids in green at a farm makes them blend right in to the crops. Which defeats the purpose of being able to locate the kids.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Secret Porn Name

When I get into a book I often times find myself overcome by the characters or the mood of the book. I also do this with movies or television series. In normal everyday situations I end up thinking to myself “What would Lou Boltd do?” Or I ask myself “Would I rather be Swearengen or would I want to be Bullock?” both characters from the HBO series Deadwood. (I am just finishing the first season).

I am also captured by the situations in the stories. I can’t help but think about what I would do if I was caught in the middle of an international espionage ring. How would I get a message to my family if I was kidnapped? I play these dilemmas over and over in my head until I move onto the next book or television series and ask myself different questions.

Recently I have been reading a bunch of Harlan Coben books. Harlan Coben writes mystery/thrillers. I was lucky enough to discover his books just a few months ago and a friend has lent me several of his works. I do not devour books. I am a slow reader. It usually takes me a week or two to finish a book. So, I, more or less, snack on them. And using the comparison of snacks I would rate Harlan Coben’s stories like a bag of Ranch flavored Doritos. Not my favorite flavor, but still Doritos, and I can finish a bag (or book) in just a few days.

The one I most recently read was “Tell No One”. Basically a guy thinks his wife is dead but then he starts getting mysterious emails containing information only his wife would know. One of the bits of secret information was that his wife was using an alias and the name she was using was that of her middle name and the street she grew up on. She took her middle name as her first name and her hometown street name as her last name. And of course her husband knew this and of course finds her eventually.

A few nights ago I was in bed watching 48 Hours Mystery. Lauren was asleep next to me. 48 Hours is basically a show about murder and who done it and how did they do it etc. etc. I forget the actual case because they run 48 Hours marathons on cable all the time and I get confused, but a woman went missing and they were trying to find her. There was a ransom demand and the police wanted to make sure that the woman was still alive and asked a question that only the woman would know.

I forget the details because I immediately had to wake Lauren so we could come up with a secret code word in the event she ever witnessed a horrible crime committed by the KGB and had to go into hiding and she needed to contact me.

“Lauren, wake up.”


“If you ever need to use a secret name to get into contact with me, I want you to use Andrea Carlson.”

“You want me to use my stripper name?” she said referring to the various “Name Generator” types of websites, using her middle name and street name.


“You woke me up for that?”

“Yes. I just want to make sure we are on the same page.”

The next day, after I put some thought into it, I realized that the KGB or rogue CIA agents would probably know her middle name and street name. So we needed to come up with a different plan.

“I think we need to change your secret code name.” I told her the next morning over coffee. “What was the name of your first pet? Was it B.C.?”

“No. My first pet’s name was Miss Catsky.” She said. "So now you want me to use my porn star name?”

“Your porn name is Miss Catsky Carlson? I think I like that.”

Monday, June 23, 2008

Define Couple

"In a couple of minutes."

"Take a few more bites."

"You can take a couple of more."

"Eat a couple more carrots and you can be excused."

"In a few mniutes."

"I'll be out in a couple of minutes."

"A couple more minutes then it is time for bed."

We use the words "few" and "couple" all the time with the kids. My definition of couple and few are pretty much the same thing. They both mean less than 10 but more than one and "few" is a slightly higher value than "couple." Anything over 10, I consider a "bunch".

Lauren has taught Maxfield her definitions of the words.

"Couple" is two. No more no less. "Few" is three, no more or no less.

Max's new knowledge and definition of the words is causing some issues in our house. When I say a couple or few I am thinking less than 10. He is thinking exact.

Let's just say he has 7 pieces of carrotts on his dinner plate. I, being the parent, want him to eat at least more than half of the carrots. So I say, "Eat a couple more carrots." I am thinking 4 or 5.

Max will eat just two carrots and argue with me that I said "couple".

Or maybe we are sharing a bag of Swedish Fish and I tell Max he can have a few. I am thinking about 7 or 8. Max will get upset because he thinks I am only giving him 3.

I made the mistake, while giving the kids some grapes, telling Max he could have a "couple more" and then saying Wyatt could have "few more". Max was beside himself that I was giving Wyatt more.

How do you define couple, few and bunch?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Confessions of a Former Class Officer

Below is my friend Susan's response to yesterday's post.

Clarifications and Confessions of a Former Class Officer
By Susan aka Tori

Dear Bill,
I obviously feel compelled to respond at length to your blog entry about the reunion, having been called out in such fashion.

Clarification 1. How can you say you weren’t popular? If you went to our high school with the last name M****m, you were automatically popular, even if you were secretly a big dork with an enormous comic book collection.

Clarification 2. I was not popular. Viola-playing, theater-loving, academic decathletes by definition are not popular. Now, according to Clarification 1, if my last name had been M****m like yours, it wouldn’t matter if I picked my nose and ate it every day, I still would have been popular.

I wish I could tell you that I ran for class officer because I was super passionate about who won the Hallway Decorating Competition (we lost our senior year and Steve G yelled at me) or because I wholeheartedly looked forward to the day when I would be privileged enough to plan the reunion. But really, I just wanted two things.

First, I wanted that bright yellow hall pass that enabled me to do whatever the hell I wanted at any point in the school day, that golden ticket that said, “Class Council Business.” As a class officer senior year, you were just given this blank hall pass with unlimited use. Flash that golden slip at any hall monitor or teacher, saying something like, oh I don’t know, “I need to go buy more posters for the Pep Rally,” and you were out of class. Sadly, or not, depending on your perspective, I used most of this time to go get Slurpees, which, looking back, was this weird status symbol in our school. If you showed up in school with a Slurpee, it meant a) you had a car and b) you somehow got out of school. None of this iPod, iPhone status-y crap. A Slurpee meant something in our town.

And now the second reason I ran for class officer. I am sorry to confess that I ran for class officer because…I really just needed something good for my college applications. Bill, I might not have needed to partake in this sham if I had not spent all of 9th grade Social Studies competing with you for who could get the most zeros. (Although it is worth noting that for as many of the zeros I accumulated for not doing a shred of homework and talking to you through entire classes, many of my zeros were also accumulated by eating in class. You may remember that the marching band was selling candy to go to Florida and I single-handedly bought and consumed enough candy to fund the entire trip.)

From the bitter, bitter tone in your blog entry, I now understand that there were many people, such as you, who held pure, practically holy motives in running for Class Council, and to all of those individuals, I apologize for snagging the job in the interest of Slurpees and entrance into an excellent liberal arts college. And so, realizing the errors of my past, I hereby in the presence of the entire blogosphere, renounce my claim to the position of Secretary of the Class of 1988 and appoint Bill as my worthy successor.

To Cyndi, Kim, Tiffany, Tara, and anyone else who planned and executed our 5th, 10th and 15th reunions: a belated thank you for doing my former job for me. I had a lot of fun and got really drunk at all three. I would feel really happy if you all did it again, and this time I will be more outwardly thankful. I think you clearly have a very interested person to recruit for the planning committee named Bill, especially since he is now Secretary of the Class of 1988. And it seems that if you’re really lucky, at the end of each planning meeting, he might dry hump you like he did Steve W.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Class of 88-20 Year reunion?

Twenty years ago, around this time of the year, I graduated from high school. I was recently with some friends (friends from high school, yes 90% of my friends today are from my high school years.) and we were discussing the 20 year reunion. Were we going to have one? Were we not? Who would we want to see? Etc. Etc.

I am not sure how all this works but in my junior year I ran for one of the officer positions for class council for my senior year. I clearly remember that one of the "responsibilities" of being an officer was to be part of the planning committee for the reunions. I lost the election. I was not popular enough. I may have been upset at the time but now, 20 years later, I am so glad I lost.

One of the people that was elected as an officer was my friend Susan (who comments here occasionally as Tori Spelling). She was popular. Now, 20 years later she is trying to back out of her responsibilities of organizing the reunion. She, of course, is blaming Albie, John R and Cindy Z who were the other officers elected. I am not sure if they were even the other officers but she throws Albie in there, because I think she understands that for some unknown reason he is "Newman" to my Jerry Seinfeld.

I just want her to realize that 20 years ago, when she was elected, she took on a responsibility and she should follow through on that promise or pledge. I am sure she is bogged down with her other duties to the French Club (she was the President) and the Academic Decathlon.

All the talk about the reunion made me pull out the year book.

Then: I was very vain about my dark dark hair. Now: I am very vain about my salt and pepper hair. Then: I made the yearbook. I was not voted as "Most Likely to Succeed" or "Most Athletic" but part of the great distinction of "Cutest Couple". Now: I am part of the "hottest" couple. Lauren makes up most of the percentage of the hotness.
Then: I played football. I made the year book. That is me, # 20, dry humping Steve W. after a touchdown. You would think they would have used a different picture. I think this would have worked better as the "Cutest Couple." Now: The only football player I would dry hump would be Ladainian Tomlinson and only if he scored four TDs in a game and he was on my Fantasy Football Team. Then: I performed a Rap on our Senior Class Trip as part of the talent show. Now: I struggle to remember nursery rhymes for my kids.
Then: Meeting my friends at 7-11 to get Slurpees on our way to the prom. Now: We occasionally meet for beers but we never wear tuxedos's and actually try to avoid situations where we have to wear a tux.
This picture represents the start of my interest in writing. All seniors, as part of their English requirements, had a to write a senior speech. Mine was selected to be presented at one of the graduation services. Then: This is me after I gave my speech at the Baccalaureate Service. The speech was about super heroes and so, toward the end of my presentation I ripped off my shirt to reveal that I was actually Superman. Now: I still wear superhero shirts but they are stretched way too far across my mid-section.

I know that some of my friends from high school read this blog. For those that do, call Susan, tell her she has to keep her commitment to the class of 88. Everyone else, I would like to use my comment section as a petition for Susan and the other class officers to get the reunion going.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Special Delivery

My mother-in-law was very generous and bought us a new mail box. We have talked about replacing the old one from the day we moved in, but it was never a priority. Now that we had a new one I figured it would be an easy job the kids and I could do together. The new mailbox stated that it was "no dig" type of post and assembly and that the only tools I would need would be a screwdriver, a hammer and a wrench. Three tools total.

I knew that I would have to dig out the old one and that is where the kids could help. We started at 8:30 AM on Saturday.

Actual number of tools we used for this project. Three of my shovels, a hammer, two screwdrivers, a wrench, a pair of pliers, a ratchet wrench. That is 9. Plus I had to borrow from my neighbor another shovel, a Saws-All with a hack blade and his sledgehammer. So another 3. That is a total of 12 tools.

I finally mounted the post (thats what she said) onto the bracket that was hammered into the ground and was almost done when Lauren pointed out to me that the Mailbox leaned forward a bit. I tried to make my case that Mailmen rarely leave any round objects in our mailbox that may roll out. She didn't buy it so I had to re-do the post.

I finished this project at 2:30 PM on Saturday. Saturday night I went to an event and my friend Bob was kind enough to drive me home. During the ride I told him the story of my new mailbox. 10 minutes after dropping me off he called me.

"Bill?" He said.

"Hey. What's up?"

"I just took out your mailbox."

My heart skipped a beat or two until I realized he was only joking. I still went out in the rain to make sure it was okay though.

After six hours of labor I think I should name the thing. Any suggestions?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why I enjoy shopping alone

I took the kids to the Super Wal-Mart the other night to pick up some items for Wyatt’s B-day. I usually fly through shopping trips when the kids are with me because they have a limited patience and are usually a handful. I usually shop by myself. Wyatt sat in the cart and Maxfield walked along next to us. A promise of Cheetos after the trip kept the kids in check.

Wal-Mart was a having a sale on the name brand Cheetos and I needed to compare the sale price against the price of the lesser-known brand. I like to know that I am getting the best price ounce for ounce when it comes to cheesy goodness. The Cheetos were about 18 cents an ounce while the imposter brand was about 14cents per ounce. But figuring in the 5 cents an ounce cushion I am usually willing to pay for a brand like Cheetos I was going to go with the name brand. (I am not that cheap but there are only a few name brands of food I am willing to pay more for. Examples would be Dorito’s and Turkey Hill Ice Cream and TasyKake)

I was standing in the aisle a little too long doing the math and Max started to wander. He was about ten feet from me and ten feet from the end of the aisle. A rather large woman, very large, all over large, turned the corner of the aisle and almost hit Max with her cart. Not because she was not paying attention, but more because Max stood in the middle of aisle, staring in awe of her large-ness.

“Dad!” He yelled. “Does that lady have a baby in her belly?”

You see, a few of Lauren’s friends have had babies in the past few weeks and Max has become fascinated with babies in bellies. I grabbed two bags of Cheetos threw them in the cart and quick stepped it over to Max to escort him out of the aisle, past the woman, as quick as possible. I did not make eye contact with the woman and I muttered a quick apology.

“No Max.” I said in a very loud fatherly whisper.

I tried to turn his head in the other direction from the woman but I couldn’t manage the cart and Max at the same time. Max pulled his head out of my grip to get a better look at the lady.

“Dad!?” He yelled again. “Maybe she has a baby in her chest. Maybe, maybe she has TWO babies in her chest.”

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

1,051,200 Minutes

Maxfield has an amazing memory. Although he can't remember things he did yesterday I am impressed with some of the stuff he remembers from a couple of years ago. That, is half his lifetime ago.

We were talking about Wyatt's birthday and Max looked up to me and said, "The day Wyatt was born I had a sleep over at Jason and Cora's."

Jason and Cora are Max's friends in Orlando. Their parents, Anne and Joel, watched Max the night we went to the hospital to have Wyatt. Max was two at the time. I don't know if all kids are like that with their memory but I am impressed. Anne and Joel will always be remembered by us for being there for us on such a special day.
Two years ago Wyatt Blue was born.

Here is the story of his arrival, Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

Wyatt Blue is Two today.

He looks so much older with the chocolate goatee.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Man Space

A long time ago, before Lauren and I bought our first house, she told me I would eventually get to have my own man-space. Some men get to have the garage or the basement as a workshop or a gym as their space in their house but that is not me. I always wanted to have an office.

My man space would be a dimly lit room with dark furniture and bookshelves. The desk would have multiple rings stained into the grain of the wood from too many cups of coffee which would only be visible if I turned on the green shaded bankers desk light. I would sit in a leather, highback executive swivel chair with wheels. Unless I was reading, then I would sit in the corner, under a tall floor lamp, in a old, musty wing back chair. I would have a decanter of scotch on a small serving table. Who am I kidding I would have an empty decanter. It would be decorated the way I would want it. And if I could, my man-space would have a secret entrance, like a rolling book shelf or a fake wall.

In our new house there is not really a room I can use for an office so Lauren agreed I will eventually get a corner of the living room. It is not the same as having my own space but it will have to do. Over the years I have gathered items I would put in my man-space. I have saved these items like I had a hope chest. One of the items I found is reprodcution of Rembrandt's "The Man in the Golden Helmet". A few weeks ago I decided to hang it on the living room wall.

Now, Lauren is rethinking whether I can have the corner in the living room.

I cannot understand why she does not like it.

Do you have man-space in your house? What's it like?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

It's not the's the bounce

I know my last post was about the bounce house but I found it hysterical that this past weekend our neighbor had a birthday party for one of her grandchildren and she had a bigger bounce house in her shed. Both of my kids refused to use our bounce house.

They stood at the fence all weekend and coveted our neighbor's things.

Apparently size does matter.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Body Slam

Our friends Bill and Jessica have one of these Little Tykes "Bounce House". Their cute little girl, who is dainty and pretty and nice, loves the bounce house. Bill and Jessica claim she can jump for hours and hours. My kids love going to Bill and Jessica's house because of the "Bounce House." Since the Little Tykes "bounce house" is portable, Bill and Jessica brought it to our house for a party one day. The kids loved it and they bounced with glee.

Witnesses to the glee and joy at the party thought it would be a great idea to have a bounce house permantly at our house, and so we acquired one.

The joy and glee and happy little jumpers lasted a day. You see, I made the mistake of thinking that my boys would be like Bill and Jessica's daughter. I was wrong.

In this corner we have Wyatt "Super-Fly" Snooka and in the opposite corner we have Max "King Kong Bundy".

We now have Steel Cage Matches every night. Wyatt was the first to get hurt. Max kicked him in the ear. It looks a lot worse in person.

I need to get a black and white Ref shirt now. The only problem is when I go into the bounce house, to separate the two rough housing kids, or to check on injuries, the whole thing deflates. I do not think the "maximum weight" warnings marked on the side are very accurate.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Don't.

Why, when I give a toy or a lollipop or a piggyback ride or whatever, to one of my two boys, the other one immediatley wants the exact same thing (the same exact action figure, the same color, flavor, what have you, it has to be exactly the same) and they will carry-on until they get it, but when I offer a choice of a TV show or dessert or whether we will play in the front yard or back yard they can never agree and they will argue nonstop?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Snakes, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.

We spent about an hour down by (and in) the creek. While we were there I realized that I say both "creek" and "crick" depending on the situation.

How do you pronounce it?

Sunday, June 01, 2008


We recently changed the type of dog food we feed Luna from a cheap brand to even cheaper. The 20 lb bag of Purina included a sample package of Purina's dog treats Beggin' Strips.

I opened the package to give Luna a treat and I was surprised to see the bacon shaped meat-and-meat-by-product treats. Why would Purina make a dog treat that is shaped like bacon?
Do dogs really know what bacon looks like?

The treats kind of smelled like bacon but they really smelled more like beef jerky. I gave Luna one of the treats and she gobbled it up and I put the package in the pantry. The next day I gave her another one. I was still intrigued by the whole bacon shape of the treat. I mean, c'mon, dogs eat their own shit from time to time, why does the treat have to be bacon shaped?

The following day I gave her another treat. Again I was struck by the bacon shape. It looks like bacon. It kind of smells like bacon. Seriously look at it.

I think it looks good.
I asked Lauren her thoughts about it but she seemed indifferent to the whole thing.

Just for the record it does NOT taste like bacon. I took a bite. Not good.

So again I ask, why the bacon shape? Does a dog know what bacon looks like? Or are the people at Purina just banking on the fact that people are going to try these treats?