Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ask Miss Manners

I read a blog post this morning that brought to mind an amusing story...

My in-laws were in town last week, visiting for Easter. During their visit, they took us to Applebee's for dinner. As is customary at virtually any restaurant, the waitress brought us our drinks while we looked at our menus. My father-in-law had a lemon with his beverage, and was squeezing the juice from the lemon into his liquid refreshment, when the lemon slice suddenly flew out of his hand, up and over his head, and off it went to the table behind him.

It couldn't have been better if he'd thrown the thing... it hit a little girl at the table smack-dab in the head. There was a dramatic silence in the air as the realization of what had just happened sunk into everyone at both tables. The kid's dad, seeing the lemon fly out of nowhere, exclaimed "What the...!?"

... everyone at our table busted out laughing, including my father-in-law, who sheepishly turned around to apologize to the people at the next table. Once they realized what had happened, they joined in our laughter.

Now, with the post I read earlier in mind, I wonder... what's the proper thing, etiquette-wise, to do in such a situation?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Second-Guessing Myself

Earlier in the week, my ex got arrested yet again. This time she was picked up because she violated the terms of probation from an earlier arrest for fifth degree theft. Okay, no big deal in and of itself, just one more in an endless string of her fuck-ups. My problem is that she lied to the kids about it, telling them that she had a panic attack and that she had to spend the night in the hospital.

"Okay, so what," you may ask? Well, here's the thing... all of this stuff is public record and the kids are old enough to start hearing about this stuff from other people. In fact, the older one is in a journalism class in high school, where she is required to read our local paper and may be required to access the local paper's information online. How would things play out if the kids found out from the newspaper -- or worse yet, from a friend?

With this in mind, I told the kids the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I told them that their mom wasn't in the hospital, but in jail... it was because she got busted for shoplifting a couple of years back and was ordered by the judge to do certain things, but didn't do everything she was told. I figured that if the kids were going to hear the truth, that they should hear it from me... after all, their mom decided not to be honest and truthful with the kids. And I figured that if I was going to tell them the truth, that I'd better tell them everything I know.

The kids reacted about as I predicted they would. The younger one was crushed and she cried. The older one simply said "Why am I not surprised," and walked out of the room. She refused to go to her mom's that night.

And their mom reacted as I expected. She called me about half of the names in the dictionary (the derogatory half), and a few that I hadn't heard before. I stood my ground as she tried to convince me that she's a good mom and simply lied "for the kids' benefit." I reminded her that she doesn't have a car, so she can't take the kids places, that she's living in a friend's basement, so she can't put a roof over their heads, and that she was in jail on her custody night, so she's not even able to be there for her kids.

By the end of the night though, I began to wonder if telling the kids was the right thing to do. As I slept (fitfully) on it, I woke up this morning to the same conclusion... I did the right thing. It would have been best if she could have owned up to her mistakes, but she chose not to do so. Better that the kids find this stuff out from me than from other kids.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

We Have a Garage!

Last fall brought the annual onslaught of interior work around the house, consisting of juggling stored items and changing bedrooms. I used the garage as a temporary overflow storage area, which meant that sexy wife and I had to park our vehicles outside during this unseasonably long, cold and snowy winter. Not the best of circumstances, but we did what we had to do.

Over the course of the last few days, the weather finally warmed up enough for me to clean things out. It took several trips to the consignment shop and to local charities, and many bags of garbage, but I've finally cleaned the garage out so that we can get our cars in... just in time for the warm weather, so it won't really matter anyway.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Ride of the Year

I broke out the bike yesterday and took her for the first ride of the year. After waiting patiently for about five months, I reconnected the battery and was pleasantly surprised when she fired right off. I let her warm up for about ten minutes and we were soon on the road. Since there is still a lot of sand on the roads, and many potholes to navigate, I kept the ride short -- just a quick 10 miles or so. But even that brief jaunt was a good ride.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Getting Creative

A little something I created recently.

You can click on the picture for a larger view.

I also found out that one of my photographs was printed in a Niagara Falls guide for tourists.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Worthy of Honor

The last known living Veteran of WWI was honored recently. The guy is 107 years old and I can't imagine anyone who's seen more than him. The guy was also in the Philippines during WWII and despite being a civilian, he ended up becoming a prisoner of war.

Frank Woodruff Buckles provides a shining example of something America has lost -- the willingness to sacrifice personally for the greater good. Here's hoping that we get it back.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Does He Want McCain to Fail?

According to this article from the Associated Press, George W. Bush has endorsed John McCain for president. But considering the public's opinion of Mr. Bush, maybe he should have endorsed the Democratic candidate. After all, I can hear people now... "There's no way I'm voting for anyone that Bush would endorse."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Nerds Mourn Worldwide

According to this article from the AP, Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons, has passed away. I guess the gods rolled a critical hit. I know that my fellow geeks worldwide join me in mourning.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Jack and Hill

Jack Nicholson has apparently created a video endorsing Hillary Clinton's campaign. The video is comprised of some well-known lines said by some of his well-known characters. I think my favorite part is where he uses Col. Jessup from "A Few Good Men." After all, military personnel are, by definition, quite conservative, and when I was an active duty Marine, my fellow Marines -- almost without exception -- despised Bill and Hillary Clinton. I think Nicholson's use of Col. Jessup is a stroke of genius for this alone.

Today's article by your's truly is not to be taken as an endorsement of Hillary, but it is an endorsement of Mr. Nicholson's brilliant piece of political art.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Some excerpts from a conversation that occurred yesterday between my older daughter and me...


"Yeah kid?"

"Well, this going to be kind of awkward, but..." that opening put almost as much dread into me as we need to talk.

I was a little less anxious as I looked over at her and saw her nervously smiling as she continued "... I think I'm ready to make out with my boyfriend, but I don't know how to do it."

I was definitely caught off-guard with this one. My daughter just asked me how to make out with her boyfriend! I needed to make sure that I'd heard her correctly. "Okay. Let me make sure I heard this right... You're asking me to tell you how to kiss your boyfriend?"

"Yeah." No doubt about it. I'd heard it right. Believe it or not, there wasn't a single moment where I felt creeped out or overprotective that my little girl had asked this. In fact, I was a little giddy over the realization that she was comfortable enough to ask her dad (of all people) for this kind of advice.

At the end of our conversation, she told me "Dad, you can't blog about this," but I replied that I couldn't make that promise. In the end, we compromised by agreeing that I wouldn't replay the whole conversation, and I'd leave out the specifics. "I keep imagining that [boyfriend] is going to read your blog and that would be awkward. (She's been using that word a lot lately.)

I will say though, that I told her a lot about the mechanics of kissing. I told her that making out is slimy and that she'd have to just get used to that, and I told her that there's more to a good kiss than the lips... and in order to honor her request for non-disclosure, I won't reveal any more of the specifics.

Like I said, I was really flattered that she felt comfortable enough to come to me (of all people) for this advice. She's a teenager and really pushes my buttons sometimes, but yesterday was one of those "it's all worthwhile" moments.