Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The new book…?

“Wait a minute! Didn’t he say he wasn’t going to write another book for a year? A year?!”

… I can hear you saying it. I can feel the spittle of your abnegation striking me like sterile raindrops… but you can tell from that last sentence that I’d better start soon or else my blog entries will need their own thesaurus!

But before we get into the new books, an update…

School. What can I say? This course I’m taking is a bore! A bore! I’ve been given an A- on each of the papers due, and I’m only going to half the classes. I think I might have some free time.

Submissions. Originally, the intent behind taking some time off was also to focus on submissions. Well, there have been some changes there. Though Vicky had been handling all of my submissions, she’s just too busy with her own shit, bottom line. So, we’re picking me up a printer and I’m going to start handling some as well. She’ll be doing just as much as before, mind you. But, with me in the mix, we should be able to crank out a few more. And we need to! We’re averaging one submission every two weeks. We should be doing a lot more if we want to find a publisher.

So, that covers all of my “after-hours” activities, not including World of Warcraft. The question still remains, “What am I going to do at work?” I mean, sure, things have picked up. I’m an Assistant Marketing Manager with a lot more duties… but writing makes me happy. And I’ve been hit with an idea that is so different, yet so compelling… ah, but that would be telling.

In the most general sense, the book will be about food. That’s all I can tell you for now. But it will cover those old, iconic foods we enjoyed so much when we were younger. (For those of you still young, fuck off.) I sat down today and thought of five of these foods. They are:

Kraft Mac & Cheese Dinner “Blue Box”

Swanson’s Chicken Pot Pie

Campbell’s Tomato Soup

Heinz Ketchup

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes


But there are bound to be others, right? You’ve probably thought of some yourself. Don’t keep them to yourself! Write them down! Put them in the comments field!

The research phase of this book, by the way, could take months. That’s how I plan to keep my “not this year” promise, by starting the writing next year. It’s a shitty, lawyer way of keeping a promise but, admit it, you never wanted me to wait, did you?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How new is the war in Iraq?...

Some may say it’s been going on for more than the few, costly years by which we mark it. The thousands of Americans dead and the tens of thousands wounded, and the countless Iraqis hurt, maimed, or killed might not know how long this has gone on.

But history gives us some insight.

I saw a picture this morning from over a hundred years ago. It was a picture of people defending their land against Americans. These people were Filipino and they were defending the Philippines again American invasion in 1899. The war lasted 14 years and cost thousands of American lives. Actually, it cost nearly as many as we’ve already lost in Iraq in a far shorter time. Over 500,000 Filipinos died. There were many atrocities committed then, just as there are now.

I say that the war in Iraq has lasted far longer than we know because, as you can see, the United States hasn’t always been the good guy. We have often invaded small countries, trying to take what does not belong to us, in the Philippines, in Vietnam, in Korea, in Iraq. Once it was territory. Then, it was oil. These wars aren’t started to “bring democracy”; the Philippine-American war started after the Spanish-American War and that small nation remains unstable to this day.

But just as the warmongers have always been with us, so have those who have spoken out for peace. In 1899, those opposed to the subjugation of the Philippines included Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryan, and Andrew Carnegie, just as many famous names along with those less famous speak out today.

One day, maybe someone will listen.

Second Anniversary Brings Second Marriage Weirdness…

“I would never want to be married a third time.” I’ve heard these words before and I think I finally get it. I’ve only been married twice and the weirdness involved would probably be far worse the third time around.

“I wish I’d only married you,” I said to Vicky as we left the Orange County Mining Company last night, and I meant that on several levels. Yes, it was our anniversary last night. Year Two.

I’d had a bad night the night before – insomnia, general nuttiness, the usual – so I wasn’t feeling my best. On top of that, the flowers I’d had delivered to Vicky came late and… well, they were the wrong flowers! Ugh! When Vicky asked me what I wanted to do for dinner, “Do you want to go out or would you like me to cook,” eventually I just said, “You and I are going out. No questions!”

We decided to hit Trattoria Barolo, our favorite, little Italian place. The food is great. The service is nice.

… and they were closed.

“Hey,” a guy called over to us as we tried to walk in, “we’re closed.” Whoops.

But how were we to know they’d be closed on Monday? Seriously?

So, where would we go? I told Vicky we could eat anywhere, as long as I was with her. That’s fine on a greeting card but it got us no closer to dinner. We eventually opted on the Mining Company, which was out in a part of Orange County we normally don’t hit because it’s near where Rosa used to live. I’d always stayed away to limit the chance of running into her. But she’s long gone now – so we went.

Did I say she was long gone? Not actually. She was all over the place and we overlooked the neighborhood she and I once lived in. Don’t get the wrong idea. It didn’t make me miss her; it was just weird. Like eating at a cemetery. Sure, the setting is quiet and green but you’re in a fucking cemetery. In my mind’s eye, I couldn’t help seeing images of the times she and I had been eating at one of those tables, or taking our evening walks on the streets below. It was like our ghosts were all around me.

And that’s what they were, too. Ghosts. Because when you remarry – or when I did, at least – it was like my old life had ended, as if those 15 years didn’t belong to me. As if those people who were once Ken & Rosa were now specters haunting the places where they had been.

I told Vicky that I wish I’d only married her because, then, there’d be just one Ken. I wouldn’t have been cut in half by a divorce. But, also, I wish I’d shared those younger years with her instead of someone who didn’t appreciate me. I wish I had those memories, instead of those spooks.

As we left, I was glad to return to the neighborhood where I share my life with Vicky. But, she said, “So, do you want to see your old house?”

I can’t begin to tell you what that meant to me. In fact, my head did such a spin I’m sure I wiped out several thousand brain cells. “Sure,” I said, because that wasn’t just the house I shared with Rosa. It was my house. I had bought it. I had worked on it. All Rosa did was steal it away from me. I don’t know if Vicky realized this or if she was just making a grand gesture but she turned down Esplanade as if she wasn’t kidding and, before I knew it, there we were.

Not a lot had changed. It still looked a bit dumpy – but that was okay. I liked it that way. I’d bought it that way. It was now probably WAY out of my price range but it was nice to know I’d once owned it. And it was nice to be there with Vicky. That made it a bit less weird.

Love ya, Vic.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Insomni… um…


Once again, I’m awake… and I’d rather not be…

Sleep and I aren’t the best of friends.

Sleep and I have issues.

Like, for instance, have you ever noticed that sleep will sometimes say it’s going out to the store to pick up a snack and it takes over an hour and it won’t answer its cell and then it comes back with a small bag of chips, like the kind they sell at the gas station, and you say, “So, Sleep, what took you so long?” And Sleep says, “What do you mean? I was just, ah, going to the store. Ah, that’s it. The store.” And you say, “Then how come you didn’t get any salsa? How come you didn’t pick up any dip?” And Sleep says, “Well, you know, I could find any.” And you say, “At the store?” And Sleep says, “Yes, at the store.” And you say, “So, you’re telling me you were at the store for an hour and you couldn’t find salsa? At the store?” And Sleep says, “Well, there was traffic.” “Traffic,” you shout. “You were only supposed to go two blocks!” And Sleep says, “Yeah, well, I got lost.” And you shout, “My ass! And what’s that smell on you, anyway?! I’ll tell you what it is! It’s jizz, bitch! You’ve been at that club downtown where all the men go and…”

… anyway, I’m awake again…

Am I late to this party?...

So, it's September 23rd... the day before our anniversary...

Vicky and I were out running errands today, which is what old, married couples do to celebrate - anyway, I could help but notice...

Christmas Cards beside Halloween decorations at Target.

Christmas wrapping paper next to Halloween costumes at Costco.

... is this what has become of the holiday seasons? They start in September now???

I know I shouldn't be shocked. It's just so very sad...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cribs from China Recalled? Um, yes...

What's the point of all this PGB nonsense, you wonder?

To avoid THIS!

Yes, deadly cribs. I don’t care what the odds are – no thank you!

Can I say it? OY!

Senate Betray-Us...

I just want to see if I got this straight.

The Repugnicons swift-boated Kerry with lies about his record. They destroyed the career of Max Cleland, a war hero who lost his limbs defending this country. At no time did they acknowledge that what they did was wrong or apologize for their repugnant behavior.

Yet, now that Move-On has spoken the truth about Petraeus, the Repugs have gotten together with the spineless Dems to condemn the truth. Good job, Dems. You can't stop the war but you can certainly stop the truth. All the ad said was what we know: Petraeus lied to the people as commanded by Bush. End of story.

So… lies that ruin peoples lives are okay. The truth, on the other hand, is to be condemned.

I know. I know. Why should this surprise me?

Vicky’s going to hate me…

When I saw this article, I have to admit, I kind of agreed with it.

… still do, even as I realize I’m gonna get smacked.

Listen, when Vicky and I were first together (no, not biblically) she said something about renewing our “contract” after ten years. It’s not a horrible idea. I think one stress in marriage is that whole “forever” thing (which always falls horrendously short anyway).

After 7-10 years, people can “re-up” or move on. They get another reason to party – one way or another!

Granted, we live in the good-old U.S. of Ain’t No Fucking Faggot Getting Married in My State and Threatening the Holiness of Matrimony… so we still have plenty of other issues to work out as well…

Early Anniversary…

Every time it comes around, every year, I get a bit anxious. I guess, in my mind, wedding anniversaries are not so much holidays as ticks off the clock, counting down to…

Well, you either get divorced or die. Marriages never end pretty.

So, you enjoy them while you can. On this particular September 21, I am thinking of the forthcoming anniversary (which, admittedly, won’t be until Monday) and wondering how I spent these days in the years before.

It just so happens that, three years ago, this was the start of my fourth month with Vicky. Not ones to hesitate, we’d already moved in together. Yep, I’d proposed and everything. Just a few months after we met, I knew what was coming... which is to say “marriage”. (Perverts.)

In 2005, it was my last day at work. I spent most of it just talking to Becky, shooting the breeze… and, of course, surfing the web. I’d finished all the work on my desk and I was ready to go. The next day, we’d have the rehearsal dinner at The Hacienda and things would start to happen. But I spent that Wednesday smoking outside with the guys as each of them – Chappy, Andreas, and others – told me how crazy they thought I was.

Last year – now that was a dilly. Megan’s memorial service was on our anniversary and Sean waited until this close to let me know my ex-wife would be there. Oh… joy. Vicky doubted Rosa would make it but it turned out she did… dammit.

Sean and I got an early start on this day, last year, taking our regular (“regular” for a guy with no job and a friend with lots of free time who will pay) breakfast at Keno’s (think of the greasiest spoon imaginable) and then heading to Marie’s. Marie is Vicky’s jeweler… yes, she has her own jeweler… yes, I know how much trouble I’m in. We went there to pick up Vicky’s anniversary gift, which Vicky had originally seen at Tiffany’s but Marie was able to have made much cheaper – er, I mean, less expensive!

I’ve already arranged for this year’s gift and Vicky will be getting it a day early, thanks to our anniversary falling inconveniently on a Monday. So, Sunday morning, we’ll return to The Hacienda for Sunday Brunch and I’ll give her a

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Wasps and things ascared of them…

Vicky saw a wasp yesterday and ran headlong through our screen door.

That’s it. That’s all I have.

You really had to be there. There’s probably nothing that evokes pathos so much as fear and nothing so evoking of laughter as the pratfall. So, there I was, feeling very sorry for Vicky… and laughing my ass off.

You see, Vicky is an incredibly level-headed person. She can handle just about anything… just about… and the thing is, she knows it. She’s incredibly confident in her own ability to handle just about anything, so confident, in fact, that it is supremely gratifying to see her taken down just a peg, like when she runs straight through a screen door, trying to avoid a single wasp.

This happens with spiders, too. This incredibly confident, competent woman will suddenly scream my name in a way she never does, pleading for my help, because a spider might be several yards away from her.

All of us reach that age, eventually, where we realize that we are mortal, vulnerable, fallible, and just to soft and fleshy to be impervious to a whole heck of a lot. I am confident that Vicky will reach that age and find the wisdom that being able to handle just about anything is not the same as being able to handle anything.

Until that time comes, at least, I’ll have something to do, killing wasps and spiders. Otherwise, I’m just furniture, another thing lying around the house because, sadly, I don’t know how to fix screen doors.

Saggy pants – there goes the neighborhood…

With its usual alacrity to astonish, Yahoo posted the following headline this past weekend, “Cities cracking down on saggy pants.”

You know, because that’s what’s wrong with this world. Not “pre-emptive war”. Not global warming. Not violence. Not murder. Not rape. Not robbery. Not cruelty. Not apathy.

Nope.

Pants.

Saggy pants.

You get rid of saggy pants and, my friends, you have a perfect world.

That’s why cities are cracking down on such pants. “It has the potential to catch on with elementary school kids, and we want to stop it before it gets there," said one local fathead… no, seriously. This is a real quote. Pants that are saggier than they would like might “catch on”. OH MY FUCKING GOD WITH A BUTT PLUG!

Listen, I know this has been going on just as long as there have been idiots in the world – and, for the record, that’s a really long time – but I cannot help point this out because, surely, at some point, it has to end. There must come a time when people who blame the world’s ills on an economic system or on people who wear different hats or on those who call their imaginary man in the sky by a different name or those who blame pants will be universally laughed off the face of the earth… surely.

I doubt if I’ll be around for that but I can’t help try.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Guess I got the boot…

There’s no nice way to put it but here it is anyway… I can’t find a single pair of hiking boots not made overseas. It’s just beyond me. My search for buying local, at least where boots are considered, is over. But how’s the old saying go - something about that it’s not a sin to admit defeat but never to have tried?

The most disheartening thing, I think, are all the manufacturers who say that they make their boots in America but seriously do not. Red Wing Shoes, Patagonia – I went to their stores only to find Made in China labels on every shoe. I mean, come on, a little honesty, folks!

With my options limited, I chose the lesser of two evils. I purchased a pair of boots made in the EU. The European Union has environmental laws far stricter than China’s, and a lot less slave labor, so I knew I could minimize my guilt, somewhat. I ended up going with a LOWA boot.

Now, if I can be allowed to sing their praises, after seeing that the boot wasn’t made in China, I didn’t need to do a whole lot of comparing. The LOWA boot fit me so well and was so comfortable, I knew I’d found the right boot right away. It was really astonishing.

So, the boot battle is over and I’ve learned that I can’t buy local all the time. With some things, it’s just not possible. But, again, the idea isn’t to get everything right 100% of the time. The idea is to do your best and try your hardest, to invest your time and effort into your ethics and do the right thing whenever you can.

Now, to plan my next hike…

Lighting the night…

We wanted to find a way to honor Megan’s memory. Megan died about a year ago after many years of illness, stemming from leukemia. What better way, we thought, than to volunteer for “Light the Night” at the Anaheim Stadium (or whatever they’re calling it this week) on Saturday.

So, there we were, at 2:45, under a warm, autumnal sun that said nothing to me more than, “Honestly, Ken, you could be napping.” But we’d signed up months ago. We couldn’t back out now! We had signed up for the t-shirt booth, giving out t-shirts. Seriously, how hard could it be?

Well, it was pretty hard just to find someone… who knew… anything! First, we languished at the “Volunteer booth”, feeling like so many migrant workers hoping someone would come around to pick us up. We were provided with “Volunteer” t-shirts, which we ended up putting on over our clothes, which would have been a stupid decision if the day grew excessively hot; thankfully, it didn’t. Vicky saw the t-shirt booth and suggested we go straight over there but… I… “I don’t know, Vic.” She told me to live a little and, seriously admonished, we went.

Nobody knew what was going on there, either. The thing that’s so interesting about volunteering is just how little anyone knows – and, yet, things still seem to work! I went up to the woman who appeared to be in charge. She was standing in a huge trailer filled with boxes and said, “You signed up for t-shirts? Well, stay here by all means! I need someone to help me with these boxes; could either of you help me?”

I tried to imagine Vicky lugging freight and, a second later, I climbed up to help.

Basically, here’s how it worked. Several people manned the booth, which they did a wonderful job setting up to look like a little designer t-shirt store. Meanwhile, I stood up in the trailer and handed down boxes of t-shirts as they needed them. I was the stock guy. And that’s how the day worked. Once the DJ started playing tunes, I had little else to do but dance up in the trailer, which is another way of saying I made an ass of myself. Every so often, people would come by with drinks and food and drinks – this wasn’t work.

One other note about volunteering: it’s not for the young. One thing Vicky and I noticed was how flaky the younger volunteers were. Seriously, this is not ageism. All of our young volunteers took off long before the event even started. I saw them later; they’d gone around to the other booths and had picked up bags full of shwag meant for the people who had raised money – the jerks. On top of that, the young people who had run the balloon booth just adjacent to us, had made an incredible mess and had just left it without cleaning up! Vicky and some of our other people went to clean it as I was cleaning the trailer.

We were there for about eight hours. I don’t know how many others participated but, between the volunteers and the participants in the Light the Night Walk, the stadium’s parking lot looked about full. From my viewpoint, it was amazing how many people filled the area.

Leave it to Vicky to remind me that we hadn’t done enough. After all, it’s one thing to volunteer for something that benefits leukemia and lymphoma research and another thing to raise money for it. Between the two of us, we began to form the germ of an idea of a strategy of a plan. When next year’s Light the Night Walk comes around, maybe we’ll put ourselves together a “Team Megan” and see what we can do to raise a little money.

After all, we have the “Volunteer” shirt. Now, we need one of the participant’s shirts.

So, we’ll see how that goes. (After all, we may have a wee one by then.)

One last note. The Opening Ceremonies of the event consisted of one speaker after another. Each speaker told about how they or their child had survived leukemia and I couldn’t help grow bitter over the whole thing. I just wanted to slap the microphone out of their hands. Why them and not Megan? But that was why we were there, to honor Megan’s memory by helping more people survive what had eventually killed her. If she was around, she would have told me to stop making such a big deal of it. Just like her.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Puppy kisses…


I have a confession. I’m a jealous, jealous man.

I’ve known Suki now for about three and a half years and, when I come home, she often walks right by without noticing me.

Suki is our dog, you see.

When Vicky comes home, Suki runs to her and gives her kisses and kisses. Suki was Vicky’s dog before Vicky and I met.

So, who am I jealous of? The one kissing my wife?

No.

Well, in a way, maybe.

The thing is, I wonder why Suki doesn’t give me kisses. What am I? Chopped liver? NO. Because she’d kiss that! What’s wrong with me that I don’t get puppy kisses? Why don’t I get slathered with the tongue that has but recently slurped on her own asshole?

(Maybe that’s why some people just aren’t “pet people”.)

I’ve gotten cat kisses. I come from a cat background. My first long term relationship with an animal (oh, please god, don’t ever let me use that phrase again!) was with a cat. Her name was Mia and from the time I was about 10 to the time I was about 18, she lived with us at my mom’s house. Mostly, though, she was my friend – and fuck everybody else. When I was sick, she stayed by my side. When I was sad, she comforted me. She was very sweet and loving.

(“Pet people” are kind of… crazy.)

Most recently, my cats have been Bando and Alacrity, though Vicky and I also live with her cat Othello and an increasingly transient Harley. Bandoo died a while back. He was the sweetest of all the universe’s creations. Absolutely loving and loyal and a dear friend.

After he died, Alacrity and I drew closer. Alacrity is kind of the town slut, though. He’ll give kisses to anybody… anything! Bandoo’s kisses were soft and nice. Alacrity… again, he’s a slut.

But no puppy kisses.

Oh, there have been a few now and then but I never got the feeling we had any kind of relationship.

Then, this morning, after returning from the gym, Suki rose and crawled over to the edge of the bed to greet me. She licked my arm, which is unusual for her (or me), and looked up at me. There was the moment of recognition, as if she was psychically transmitting the phrase, “When I come over here and sit like this, it means I want to kiss you, you dork!”

Okay, I thought, so I leaned towards her. I looked her in the eye. Then, she tilted her head and laid a big, fat, wet one on my nose.

Thank you, Suki. Now, where’s a Kleenex…?

Pass the doobage…

I’m telling you, they might just as well be stoned.

So, I’m in my philosophy class last night and we’re talking about Epicurus. And my instructor does the worst thing imaginable: he breaks us into groups. I hate breaking into groups. Do you want me to learn or join a committee? Honestly, I haven’t the time. Breaking into groups means actually having to rely on other college students for how I might be assessed by The Great One Who Provides The Life-Giving Grade… and, really, I’d be better off with rocks.

The topic, as I mentioned is Epicurus. Instructor Man passes out several points and we’re to discuss out take on them.

One such point, for instance, is “We are in general ignorant about the actual reasons for our unhappiness.” Okay, slam dunk. All this means is that, in general, we don’t know what makes us happy or unhappy. Not only does Epi set this off with a modifier, “in general”, but the assertion is fine, pretty clear.

This is when the group gets interesting. One girl, we’ll call her Liked One Class But Has Been Loathing Philosophy Ever Since (you run into a lot of these people, hoping philosophy will get as good as that first class one day), says, “Well, this is dumb. It’s obviously dumb. It’s so dumb.”

“Why?” I ask, guessing that her triple repetition must signify some thought behind the assertion.

“Because it’s… it just is… it’s dumb.”

The girl beside her took over. She is Mrs. Take Notes. She’s pushing a short 300 pounds and learned a long time ago she’ll only be liked if she’s useful. (Harsh? Probably… but, oh so true.) She asks, “Why would we be ignorant?”

I ask, “Why would we be ignorant?” aware that I’m repeating her but hoping it hits her coming back as hard as it hit me the first time. “Ignorance doesn’t require a reason; it just is.”

“So,” Liked One Class assumes, “you agree with him?”

“Yes, I do.”

“How could you agree with him?” asks the last of our group, a young man so wired you have to watch out for his retinas, which seem to positively scream out of his skull.

“All you have to do is look around you and you can see that people don’t know what it takes to be happy or not to be unhappy. Look at global warming. If people knew how much that’ll make them unhappy, they’d stop it.” Look at the obesity epidemic, I thought but didn’t say in deference to Mrs. Takes Notes. “Look at our rampant materialism. Would people keep buying every new gadget, thinking it will fill some need inside of them and make them happy if they really knew what made them happy?”

“But you can’t know that,” the young man countered. “You can’t enter their minds and know their thoughts. And, anyway, it’s empirically impossible to know what we are or are not ignorant about. Ignorance requires truth and truth is subjective and if there is no truth be blabbity blah blah blah…” Actually, he didn’t say “be blabbity blah blah blah”… but he might as well have. Once upon a time a time, I was asked the difference between philosophy and bullshit and answered that it depended upon the end result. This was bullshit.

Still, I had to admire his intensity. “Did someone pull a string in your back before you came in?”

He really, really didn’t get it.

Liked One Class insists, “What do I care about Global Warming, anyway? If it’s true, it won’t happen in my lifetime.”

If it’s true??? “When do you think this will happen?” I ask.

“What? Like in 50 years or something.” This from a student of philosophy.

I slowly try to wish myself dead… or, at least, not human.

So now the Instructor comes around. He asks us, “How do we even know there’s a reason for our unhappiness?” I don’t know; you ever hear of cause and effect… fucking Einstein.

So, I say the obvious. “Not knowing if there is a reason is the same thing as being ignorant of the reason.”

Not only does that shut him up but he’s suddenly grown tired of the class being in groups. “Okay, back in your seats,” he says.

Then, he calls on everyone to present their answers. I’ll spare you most of them but they pretty much went in the vain of, “Just thinking about this makes me unhappy.” and “You could be high and think you were happy but really not be.” and “What about if I was raping someone? Then, I’d be happy and they wouldn’t be.” That last one really worried me.

Someone in the back said, “I read an article once that said that the smartest people are the least happy.”

“Of course,” Intructicon agrees. “They’re smarter so they’re more aware of what makes them unhappy.”

Okay, not only does this not makes sense but, “Wait a minute. You don’t have to be a genius to know what makes you happy. You just have to get to know yourself.”

He looks at me and I immediately realize… you know, for the hundredth time… just what a sham this guy is. He might as well be teaching woodshop. He gets that quizzical look and then looks away. “So, yeah, you can’t be smart and happy.” Then, he moves on.

And I am left, as I so often am, realizing that nobody gets it. This simple idea, that if you just pay attention to your own self you’ll know better what works for you and makes you happy, is beyond them. So often, that’s my problem, that something seems so simple to me but nobody seems to really get it.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Takes Notes has proven to shy to actually read all the notes she took and our group comes out innefectual... as well it should.

It’s going to be a very long semester.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Worst headline of the day...

As many of you may know, I engage in a certain fascination with... a "cercination", if you will... with really bad writing.

Now, I know you're probably thinking that I'll point to Yahoo's headline about Bush ordering troops to come home and say that's the worst. Ah, but no! Even though Bush is taking credit for exhausting our troops by keeping them there so long they have to, by law, return and claiming that it was his strategy or some equally mind-fucked psychopathic behavior... it gets worse.

No, the worst headline today has to be about the hurricane that "snuck up" on the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast! That's like one, two - FIVE states wide! Apparently, this hurricane snuck up a'snickering, rang the Gulf Coast's doorbell and set a flaming bag of poo on its doorstep before scampering off!

Who the fuck is writing this shit???

And, no, I didn't buy one...

I was at Del Taco today and read the following sign to my amazement and dismay:

Now Available
Bottled Water


Can you imagine? I was agog!

Here we are, practically up to our necks in empty bottled water bottles, bottles which will take generations upon generations to even consider decomposing, and the fine people at Del Taco just stumbled on the idea??

I can just see them all in a meeting one day, all of them drinking from their toxic bottles of pure, pure tap water until one of them says, “Excuse me, but do we sell this in our restaurants?”

And another replies, “Oh, shit.”

What the hell??? One person’s response to PGB…

I won’t lie. I like to think of myself as fairly enlightened, somewhat knowledgeable, moderately wise. Sure. But I also like to think that any wisdom I might have is low hanging fruit, easily attainable… obvious. But that’s just me.

So, I’m at work today and one of the ladies there comments on how her children had today off for Rosh Hashanah. “I don’t know why my kids should be forced to celebrate a Muslim holiday,” she added.

Ouch.

When I tried to explain to her that Rosh Hashanah is not a Muslim holiday and that the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, which also begins today, may be what she meant, she asked when Vicky and I were planning on having our own children, with that tone of voice that practically screams, “Let’s see how tolerant you are when you have your own kids.”

I gave her the “we’re working on it” response and, somehow, the conversation turned towards making preparations. I, of course, told her how we’re trying to be as environmentally aware as possible.

Her response? “You’ll want to be careful. Most of those kind of companies are unregulated.”

An amazing response, really. I couldn’t believe it. On one hand, most people these days are happy when things utilities and air travel and war production and food go unregulated, which they do. On the other hand, the thought that products made to be more wholesome are somehow bad for you – it boggles the mind.

Oh, and they’re not unregulated! And I told her that. At which point, she asked what we’d done so far.

Opting not to go too extreme, I told her about the NATY products we found at Target. Biodegradable diapers, how more mainstream can you get? “They must be really expensive,” she claimed. Now, wait a minute. I saw them at Target and they were…

… dammit! I couldn’t remember.

So much for a snappy come-back. I went to Target tonight, though, and here’s how much they cost.

NATY’s are $9.54 for 40.
Huggies are $9.54 for 80.
Pampers are $17.49 for 80
And generic Target diapers are $5.74 for 80.

So, what does this mean? Well, for one thing, Target diapers are damned cheap. But I think we can agree that you get what you pay for, right? Okay, so remember that as we toss out the Target diapers. Huggies are twice as much as NATY’s but Pampers are about the same price, give or take three bits.

But let’s assume that they all had the same relation as Huggies. Let’s say that NATY’s were twice as much as regular diapers. Going back to the 6,000 diapers per child statistic, that would mean you’d spend about $716 on a baby’s diapers if you bought regular diapers. But you’d blow a whopping $1431 if you bought NATY.

Is $1431 worth it? Would you pay $1431 to be able to look into your child’s eyes and say, “I did my part.” Would you pay $1431 to help insure that your child might have clean water to drink, keeping in mind that diapers leech into water tables? What price do you put on your child’s welfare, anyway?

I know that everyone can’t afford this but, sadly, most of the people we know, most of those reading this blog, probably can… and yet, won’t spend the money.

That’s what it all comes down to.

Then, this woman said, “I knew some people, once, who used cloth diapers. Can you imagine?” She said it as though they were mideavel serfs or something. I replied, “Vicky and I are planning on using cloth diapers when we can.”

I explained that we know there’s no single solution but, rather, a combination, and how we plan to work together to find the right balance. I used the example of furniture and how we plan to check out some consignment shops.

“Most of the stuff they have there is from the 70’s,” she said, adding, “be careful.”

From the 70’s? In Orange County? Are you kidding?

The thing that amazed me most was this impression she had that healthy, environmentally safe products are somehow dangerous. As if we’re risking our child’s health by planning to cause less harm to his/her world. That’s how twisted the so-called “right” has made things in people’s head – and why we have Project Green Baby.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is how I ended up driving an SUV…

I hate to admit it.

Just the thought makes my skin crawl.

Let me start at the beginning. So, I’m driving to work yesterday and my front, passenger-side tire decides to explode. BAM! I veer off the freeway (whatever happened to shoulders, anyway) and AAA comes by to put my wee tire on my car. “Now, don’t drive on the freeway,” the AAA dude tells me. (I call him a “dude” because I couldn’t get a bead on him even when he was there. He kept moving and talking, as if I was just one of the car’s accessories.) Then, he says, “And don’t take it over 50 for more than…. ten minutes.” Ten minutes? Ten minutes? What if I’m doing 51 in a 45 mph zone for 11 minutes? What happens, then? Ka-BOOM???

I get to work and I know I have an immediate problem. I have to find a tire shop in south OC. Now, this might not seem like an issue to you readers in Washington or in Morocco (oddly enough) but south county is a strange place, filled with every shop you could never afford or figure out what it’s there for. They change so quickly, too, with every trend, I don’t know how south county people even buy their food. Their menu must change daily. Anyway, my first idea was good-old Costco. But Costco does not perform alignments and I knew that one tire out of alignment is like wearing one shoe backwards – I needed to get the tires aligned!

Too bad nobody did alignments… and those who did, didn’t have my tire in stock. (Honestly, a Honda Civic. How rare is that?)

Finally, I found a shop that sold a tire my size and performed alignments. It was the Firestone dealer at the Laguna Hills Mall.

Do yourself a favor: STAY AWAY! (Again, if you’re in Washington or Morocco, this might not apply.)

I called their service manager, David, and he said that they couldn’t take care of my car until after 2:30pm. I said, “That’s fine. I don’t get off work until 3pm.” To which, he replied, “I told you, no sooner than 2:30!”

This should have tipped me off.

So, I made an appointment for 3:30pm (to be safe) and brought my car in at the appointed time.

Immediately, he says he can’t do my alignment until 5:30pm. “But I made an appointment on the phone... with you!”

“We don’t take appointments. I can’t help you until 5:30.”

“But you told me on the phone.”

“That’s the best I can do. You want a tire? I got that tire there.”

Now, listen, I’m normally a smarter consumer than this but I was having a horrible day. My back was killing me. My car was on a bicycle tire. I was just generally stressed and this assface took total advantage of that. So, I accepted his 5:30 time and I waited…

When 4:00 rolled around, my car was driven out. “You got your car there,” David said like some mob goon with no sense of the obvious.

I rose as quickly as my bent body allowed and asked, “Wait. What about the alignment?”

“Yeah, we can’t do it.”

“What are you talking about? You told me just half an hour ago that you’d do it at 5:30!”

“Sorry, we can’t.”

It didn’t matter that I’d made an appointment or that I’d totally changed my plans and missed school for this fuck. He was rude, unprofessional, and totally took advantage of me when I couldn’t drive my car back home to find a shop where I’d prefer to bring my car. What a dick.

Was there yelling? Was their swearing? Oh, you bet. But it didn’t matter.

So, I ended up driving my wobbly car back home.

This morning, Vicky offered to bring it to a shop by our house for the alignment. I couldn’t bring it in because I had to get to work, which is how we ended up trading cars. I’ve got her smog hog… she’s got my little Civic with the great gas mileage.

And we both hate it. Maybe, tomorrow, things will return to normal.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Out… and down…

I threw my back out Sunday night. People have been asking me how and I’ve been too embarrassed to say.

I threw my back out by getting a massage.

Yes, you heard me right. And yes, those are supposed to make your back feel better. And yes, I know that’s weird!

But, sure enough, within a couple hours of us leaving Burke Williams, my back was bending in ways it was never designed to bend… and I could tell, because it HURT! Vicky applied Tiger Balm, which made it hurt and burn. (I’m still wondering who the genius was who invented that shit…) So, I was up most of the night.

Did I tell you about how vomity I was on Saturday? So, after two bad days in a row, Monday came along and I took my pretzelled spine and called in sick. I spent the rest of the day sleeping, trying to avoid the pain.

Three days.

This morning, I woke up all bent up and picked up my sorry ass and got it (along with the rest of me) ready for work. Driving with a bad back is really no fun… and worse when your right front tire explodes. But there it went, sending smoke up in the air in a way I hadn’t seen outside of a movie. I didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy it. I was going nearly 80 and my car suddenly decided it wanted to go right… NOW! Thankfully, there were no cars to my right. Sadly, the freeway had no shoulder. So, I got off the freeway, parked, extricated myself from my car (blame my broken back), walked around the back of it, got to the passengers’ side… and the tire was still smoking. Donde los yikes!

About half and hour later, I was back on the road, driving on what Vicky calls my “donut” but I like to call my spare bicycle tire… Surely, the whole week can’t be this way.

Normally, I’d stop here at my rueful punchline, but I also thought I’d say a few words on this Sept. 11th. On an anniversary in which we should be honoring the value of human life, Shrub is again convincing everyone that we need to kill more Iraqis. You remember the Iraqis, right, those people who NEVER ATTACKED US. I can’t help but this of this as a brutal dishonor to those innocent who died six years ago, that we should commemorate it by killing more innocents. And for those of you who say Bush’s plan is not working, that his polling numbers are too low. Think again. He doesn’t play that game. He doesn’t care about the Americans or the Iraqis. But shouldn’t you?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Green butts…

Sometimes these things come from strange places… like Target.

Vicky and I were there the other day buying some Method dryer sheets (we like their whole line of products and anticipate their corporate endorsement soon… or a check; we’re easy). What that generally means is we walked aimlessly looking at things we’d like to buy.

Passing the baby poop receptacles… um, diapers, we found something Naty. No, I don’t mean something smart or neat… actually, wait, I do mean that.

Naty products are smart and neat, if they work as well as they claim. Disposable diapers and baby products that keep the convenience while also being less harmful to the environment. Well… not bad!

So, there’s your green babiness for the day. Something smart and neat and not nearly as poisonous as other diapers.

This green baby thing is really coming together!

the Republican Presidential Front Runner...

Thank you, Robert Greenwald.

Friday, September 07, 2007

This is what happens when you don’t write…

It was a slow day today… very slow… my boss was out sick, everything was on someone else’s plate… slow…

Previously, I used to write when things were slow… but, thanks to an ill-advised semester at CSF and a certain promise… well, I didn’t.

Instead, I surfed.

The web, I mean.

And it looked like nobody else was working, either. Even Osama’s tape was last year’s news. Don’t you like how Shrub’s people distribute a new tape of their guy berating the Democrats for not solving the problem… I could only stand so much hypocrisy and just plain fucking evil… so I moved on.

Did you know that the Wiki has entries about both The Venture Brothers and Drawn Together? And it’s not just one entry! It’s loads! Did you know they have all the hidden trivia in each show documented – seriously! Somebody has gone through all of these shows and seriously documented every piece of trivia, every in-joke, every subtle reference… now, I gotta say, I admire and fear these people. I mean, hot damn!

So, that’s pretty much how I spent my day, reading about Bowie references in The Venture Brothers and Yiddish slang in Drawn Together…

Kill me.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Remember Noriega?...

That’s not a battle cry – I still have cause to chuckle over those “Remember 9/11” bumper stickers I used to see, when it was clearly being remembered for all the wrong reasons – but, rather, a question.

Does anyone really remember Noriega?

Here’s a quick primer. We put him in power so he could manage some of the drug trade for the CIA. When he tried to skim too much money off the top, we went in and removed him from power, and put him up in a resort in Florida.

We called it “prison”.

Well, now Noriega is conveniently being released from prison at about the same time the Panamanians are asking for his dried-out, old skin. What do to with daddy’s favorite drug runner? Send him on vacation to France, of course. Yes, there are perks to breaking the law and committing atrocities the old fashioned way.

Remember, if you smoke a joint, you go to “Ass-raping prison”.

If you help kill a generation of the poor and disenfranchised with cheap, CIA heroin, you go to France.

Pimpin’ a Green Crib…

This started at Target. And I realized, last night, that I probably didn’t get off on the right foot.

Listen, I’m going to say this and many of you will agree but that doesn’t mean you need to comment… I can be a dick.

Shut up.

I probably shouldn’t have laid down the law the way I did while Vicky was getting all excited about having a baby; it totally stifled her fantasizing about the experience. I just shut her down and ruined her good time and made her think we’d have nothing but hemp clothes and bamboo furniture and peyote nooks. (Well, the peyote nooks sound nice…) And I kind of fucked things up – which is probably why she was such a bitch on Tuesday but we won’t get into that.

Once I was able to show Vicky that it wouldn’t be all sacrifice and no reward, she started to get into it, too. I was glad, too, because I want us to have fun with this. Having a green baby shouldn’t make the experience miserable. On the contrary, it should make the whole thing more fulfilling!

So, Vicky started finding her own websites and retailers that could make things fun and, as promised, I present these to you now.

The first on the list is consignment shops, re-retailers – you know, getting things cheap so new stuff doesn’t have to be manufactured and shipped – the win-win! The first is Children’s Orchard, and these are all over the place! The Mommie Store is another link she passed along. They don’t appear to sell as much furniture but they’re filled with all sorts of useful things, new and used! (Oh, and there’s only one of these… in Norco… sadly…) But consignment shops are everywhere and many of them specialize in baby stuff, it just takes a little research.

Next on the list is the new stuff, new furniture. Vicky gave me a ton of these, some good, some better. Young America is a line that is made in the US and environmentally aware. Child Craft may be made in the US (it depends) but they don't appear to be as environmentally aware. Then, there’s Sorelle and Dutailier , made mostly in the US but with no real commitment to the environment. (That said, I luvs me Dutailier’s glider…) El Greco has some very nice stuff and so does MunirĂ©, both made in the US. She even gave me some online retailers, Dreamtime Baby and Lullaby Baby.

What I really wanted, though, was something more environmentally friendly for comparison. So, I decided to throw a few of those in here as well. I have to admit, I’m stealing these from Great Green Baby – but, hey, it’s a good site! First, Vivavi… it ain’t cheap but it’s good, clean, and guilt-free! And my final contribution is Lilipad Studio. I know it’s expensive but I love this stuff – I love this stuff – I love this stuff!!!! It’s all amazing and unique and – again – guilt-free!

Now, odds are, we’re not going to buying stuff online if we don’t have to. Vicky and I are tactile people so we’ll want to interact with whatever we choose. But it’s fun to look and see things you like. And I know I should have let Vicky do that; I was wrong.

I’m just glad we’re getting closer and closer to the same page and having fun doing it.

People who keep me awake…

So, I’m heading into work this morning… I’m driving in the fast lane and there’s a wall to my left. From the lane to my right, the guy beside me decides he wants to change lanes –

– and does, right into me!

I only have a second to slam on my brakes and my horn and veer as fucking close to the wall as possible.

Oddly, he ends up in front of me. I’m trying to catch my breath and hoping I didn’t just crap my pants… and then, this guy decides he wants to stop. He’s doing nearly 80 and he decides to stop.

And he does! He slams on his brakes, which makes me have to do the same. My whole body is clenched up behind the wheel, hoping my brakes hold out… and then, he decides to go again.

A few exits later, he decides he has to get over to the to the far right lane right away – and he veers directly into traffic, causing horns to sound and brakes to screech, I’m just thankful he’s gone.

And I am wide awake!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I’m gonna recycle my baby…

In this part of Project Green Baby, we’ll talk about baby recycling.

… wait. No. I meant recycling for the baby, not… I know they’re often ugly and smell bad, I… you do NOT get a nickel for each one!

Anyway, this all started with the crib. Actually, it was the toddler’s bed. Actually, it was the crib and the toddler’s bed and the day bed and the twin bed – these new cribs are multi-taskers! They’re fantastic! And Vicky and I loved them… what? They’re made where? Out of what?

Poopie.

Between the crib, the stroller, and the changing table, it was clear we were going to have to spend a huge chunk of change just to get something we did not want: more pollution! If there’s one thing I don’t want to have to pay for, it’s more pollution! Either in the form of building materials that are harmful to the environment (and the baby) or have to be shipped in from far, far away, I don’t want to have to create another ton of pollution just to pimp my baby’s crib.

No, I mean the room… to furnish it.

Once Vicky agreed that we should continue to try and stay on the green path with our child, we diverged. Of course.

Vicky started looking at green retailers, with products made in the U.S. I’ll show you some of those another day – cause, you know, she’s so good at writing…

In the meantime, I went to reading. (Because drinking and smoking were out.)

Every source I kept reading (such as my new favorite, TreeHugger), was telling me to recycle. But, again, I didn’t know of a place that took babies. Then, it dawned on me, I could get the crib and the stroller and the changing table and much more – recycled!

There are two great ways of getting baby furniture that does far less damage to the environment. (And, no, one of them is not to get them to smoke so it stunts their growth.) The first method is what Vicky and I have decided to call “donations”. Do you have friends with babies? Then, you might have friends who want to get rid of baby stuff, especially if they have to move it out to make room for kids stuff. Vicky and I are surrounded by people with babies. Heck, I could get $.55 if I really wan – anyway, with so many babies, we’re sure to know someone who would much rather make a “donation” than spend money on you that they could save for themselves. Honestly, why but someone a table or a car seat when you’re going to dump your old one? We shouldn’t think of this as a bad thing. (Now, I’m talking about furniture here. Clothes and nappies and bedding is for another blog entry.)

But what if you don’t have people who want to “donate”? That’s when you go to method two: Consignment. The moment I thought of it, I was shocked that I hadn’t thought of it sooner. There are some wonderful consignment stores with very expensive things priced cheap because they were previously owned. We could probably afford better furniture this way than if we tried to buy it new.

Now, what good does this do? Well, no new trees are cut down and no new pollutants are created in making this furniture. No extensive shipping is required, either. Not only do you get to benefit from someone else’s purchase, you can extend the life of something that might otherwise just get thrown away, wasted.

Now, just as with our diapers, no single solution will work in every case. In our case, we’ll probably do a little of each: getting “donations”, buying from a consignment shop, and even buying something new. But we’ll save money while getting quality goods that cause less harm to the environment in the process.

The more I look into this, the more I’m thinking that this would make a great book. The First Time Parent’s Guide to Greening Your Baby, or something. Oh, but wait… I said I wouldn’t… dammit.

Just wondering...

So, how awkward would it be for a dyslexic working in a company that posts signs reading, “This is a Drug-Free Workplace”, once he goes to HR inquiring about the free drugs…?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Raising a Green Baby…

I honestly didn’t see it coming. After all, Vicky and I have been priding ourselves in growing more aware of our impact on the environment. Vicky’s going to buy a car with better mileage early next year. We’re drastically reducing our consumption of plastic. We’re eating less meat. We’re eliminating high fructose corn syrup from our diets. We’re buying food that’s less processed and more organic from more local sources. We’re trying to “buy local” for all things. I even found greener hiking boots, made in the US, over the Internet. (Patagonia.com has a retailer in Corona, not far from here. When I’m ready to buy, that’s where I’ll go.)

So, how did it happen?

Vicky and I were in Target, looking at baby things. Vicky’s back on the “baby bandwagon”. At least, I’m guessing the computer program she has to tell her when she’s… um… ready has more to do with her wanting a baby so badly and not just so she won’t have to … nah, that’s can’t be it…

Anyway, we’re standing there and I hear Vicky telling me she doesn’t want to do the whole “green thing” for our child. For our child! But who else are we doing all the rest for? It’s not for us that we’re doing it; if the world goes to hell after we die, it wouldn’t bother our corpses much – hell, we might as well join the Republican party and be done with it! You can probably guess that I got a little mad, especially when Vicky’s strongest argument was that people who can’t buy lead-painted, pollution-making crap that has to be shipped all the way from China will buy fewer gifts. To hear this kind of argument from Vicky was actually painful on my ears.

So, I stormed off and left her to do the shopping while I cooled it a little.

When I found her again, she said, “Before you say anything…” But she married me. Of course, I spoke!

I said, “I don’t want to give up trying to be a good person once we have a baby because it’s too inconvenient. If your friends think we’re nuts because we’re trying to make the world a better place for our child, that’s fine by me.” About then was when the words, “Before you say anything”, pierced my epidermis.

Irritated by my inability to shut up, Vicky said that I was right and that she knew we’d have to keep trying to be good citizens of the earth once we had a baby. She was just worried that it was going to be so difficult to do, and so expensive. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure how expensive it would be. Faced with a situation like that, I perform research! I told Vicky I’d look into it and I figured I might as well share the results of my research with you.

Welcome to the beginning of Project Green Baby! Every so often, I’ll post a new find, some new product that I’ve found to help your baby – and you – be a bit greener.

I figured I’d begin this week with the basics… Poop.

America deposits over 25 million disposable diapers in its landfills every year (some claim that number goes as high as 18 billion) and each one takes about 500 years to decompose. You want to do the math on that for me – it’s a shitload of diapers! About 6,000 for each baby, over two tons of waste! Worse, that crap gets into water tables, into the food chain, and into us. And it’s not just diaper dung but the synthetics the diapers are made from, such as sodium polyacrylate, which is also bad for the baby.

What to do?

Well, there’s always the cloth alternative. Over the time a child is in diapers, cloth is actually cheaper than disposable. And it’s ubiquitous, there are cloth diaper services all over the place. Also, research has shown that baby’s raised on cloth diapers get potty-trained earlier and experience fewer instances of diaper rash and other such afflictions. But cloth diapers won’t exactly go over well when someone else has to change the kid, such as at day care or ANYWHERE!

Okay, okay. What to do?

I’ve found two green alternatives that I rather like. Let’s start with gDiapers. These are built in two layers. First, the inner layer does all the absorbing work – this is actually flushable and will biodegrade in water. The outer layer holds everything in place and is reusable. This looks like the best of both worlds. Also, you can buy them at Whole Foods/Wild Oats/Henry’s! I won’t lie to you; it is a bit more expensive than traditional disposables. At about $.40 each, it’s a bit more but it’s worth it in so many ways.

The down side is… part of it is made in China. I gotta be honest; I’m not too keen on this. But, considering that it’s the outer layer made in China, and you’ll only be buying a few of these rather than 6,000 or so, I think that’s still a far better option.

What’s option two, then? Communication. More and more studies are coming out about learning to speak with your baby before they can… well, before they can speak. Infant Sign Language is proving to be extremely helpful, especially when it comes to potty training. Apparently, being able to tell you they want to go potty is extremely empowering to kids. So, Vicky and I are going to do some seriously looking into learning a second language: sign.

Obviously, no single answer is going to solve every problem. We have to think big picture on this. But I think that using gDiapers along with cloth, and teaching our child Infant Sign Language – along with judicial use of disposable when it’s really necessary – will help us raise a healthier child in a healthier world.

I think if we’re committed, it’s going to be very possible.

Class paper - 1 of 10...

I just sat with my instructor as he graded my first paper in the class I'm taking in college. This is a Junior-level class, mind you. I expected that he'd want me to write at a certain level.

I got a C.

Why?

Because I didn't start my paper with the thesis statement. (I had closed with mine.) Because my paragraphs did not all start with my topic sentences. (Mine were often at the end or middle.) Because I didn't use transitional phrases such as "for example" and "in the example that follows". (I had used other phrases, instead.)

Yep. I will need to write at a certain level.

At 6th grade level!

But now I know what to anticipate and how he wants me to write... I just can't help wonder how he ended up teaching in college.

Before he finished, he said, "I really like what you had to say, but you didn't say it the way I wanted you to." Ah, the university - home of learning.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

I guess we're going to start being busier... doing nothing...

Yep, the fall premiers are a'comin'! Over the summer, we've discovered the virtues of Burn Notice and Psych and Feasting on Asphalt and now we'll have ...

Desperate Housewives ... Sept. 30
Drawn Together ... Oct. 4
ER ... Sept. 27
Family Guy ... Sept. 23
Heroes ... Sept. 24
My Name Is Earl ... Sept. 27
South Park ... Oct. 3
Supernatural ... Oct. 4

... actually, that ain't that much...

(Confession time. Okay, so ER and Supernatural are mostly for Vicky. And Drawn Together, Family Guy, and South Park are mostly for me... I'm 12.)