May 31, 2010

Aiden at the "Beach"

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May 27, 2010

Cartoon Logic

Thanks to a now-daily routine of waking up with my infant son first thing in the morning, I'm becoming reacquainted with the cartoons of my own youth.

While I can stomach the pre-school-level broadcasts on the "NickJr" channel fairly admirably, eventually something will come on that's just geared for such slow-wits, it makes Mr. Roger's Neighborhood seem like theoretical physics by comparison. When those shows come on, I go up one channel to a cartoon network that replays all my old favorites, and I feel briefly ashamed that I think of them as my "old favorites."

First off, there's "The Smurfs." I really did love that show when I was just a lad, but it just doesn't hold up well now that I'm 35. Each and every smurf is presented as a total stereotype, right down to the insufferable "Brainy" who always ends up being catapulted out of the smurf village by his fellow exasperated smurfs. Why does he always, ALWAYS land on his head. You'd think a smurf that's supposedly as smart as Brainy would have the sense of mind to attempt some sort of in-air course correction so he at least lands on his feet; then he could attempt a roll of some kind. At least there would be a chance of him saving his glasses from being crumpled AGAIN.

Then there's the whole Gargamel and Azrael dynamic. Gargamel's bipolar relationship with his cat is frankly dumbfounding. One minute Gargamel is laughing maniacally and talking to Azrael about his plan to catch the smurfs, and Azrael responds by almost TALKING. But, the next minute, when Gargamel's great plan unravels, he all but kicks that cat across three counties. After watching that play out enough times, I can't help but think Gargamel is responsible for that paper punch on Azrael's ear. I just KNOW he did it.

"The Smurfs" is usually followed by "Wacky Races," one of those cartoon abominations that constituted the long list of Hanna-Barbera dreck. The biggest problem with this show is that it actually only ran for about five months between 1968 and 1969, and only produced 17 episodes total. So, in my efforts to keep my boy content, I've now seen every episode roughly 12 billion times, and each viewing annoys me just a little bit more each time. Now, when that dog, Muttley, does his little naughty raspy laugh routine, I actually wish for it to be possible to physically punch a cartoon character.

There are some other cartoons I'm becoming reacquainted with, but "The Smurfs" and "Wacky Races," are the two I most often see before leaving for work each morning. I shudder to think how cartoon insane I'd be if I were unemployed.

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May 26, 2010


Walked the boy through Best Buy tonight. Verdict: I'm woefully behind on technology gadgets right now. Not that I think that's necessarily a bad thing. It's just a thing.

But, it was instructive. I once trained myself to learn "Fatality" combos for "Mortal Kombat" on Sega." Those were simple compared to the joystick operations I watched a young man perform tonight, just for regular stand-up and jiu-jitsu moves.

When my boy starts playing games via Nintendo Cerebrum Wii, I'll be pretty much screwed.

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May 24, 2010

Counting down

Well, tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, we'll have carpet installed in the basement. It will be the culmination of an ongoing basement remodelling project that began back when I first purchased the house back in 2004. There will still be much work to be done, not the least of which will be untangling the nightmare plumbing issues that have plagued the house from day one, but with the installation of the carpet, 4/5 of the basement will become fully livable.

Over the years, I've resisted taking out an additional loan to complete the basement project, mainly because the basement wasn't a huge priority. The upstairs provided more than enough space for my wife and me. It made more financial sense to pay for incremental steps towards the final finished product.

The addition of the infant boy, however, changed that dynamic considerably. We still have enough space, but once the boy starts crawling--which should be in next couple weeks--we'd be sorely pressed for space and room to maneuver. Thankfully, I've had enough in my savings to pay for the rather substantial projects we've had done over the last month and-a-half. It should be worth it though. The basement project basically doubles our living space, so I'm excited to see what it all looks like when I get home from work tomorrow.

When I think back to what the basement used to look like, with its burlap fabric acting as a ceiling, the ancient panneling, the iron gas fireplace and just the general creepiness of it all as a whole, I'm amazed at what we're about to have in its place.

Just having carpet is somewhat exciting. While I love the hardwood floors we resurrected back in 2004, I do miss the bouncy, soft feeling of carpet, and I suspect the boy will enjoy crawling on carpet rather than spinning his wheels on the slippery hardwood.

It has all cost a lot of money to get to this point. Thousands and thousands of dollars. And, an eventual new gas fireplace will also be necessary before next fall, which won't be cheap. But, we're about to have a whole new house to come home to, and that's pretty damned cool.

Posted by Ryan at 10:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 19, 2010

A real gem

Ryan: Jem
jem Is Excitement
ooh, Jem
jem Is Adventure
glamour And Glitter
fashion And Fame

jem, Is Truly Outrageous
truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous

whoa, Jem
jem, The Music?s Contagious
jem Is My Name, No One Else Is The Same
jem Is My Name

but we're The Misfits, Our Songs Are Better
we Are The Misfits, The Misfits
and we're Gonna Get Her

jem, The Music?s Contagious
jem Is My Name, No One Else Is The Same
jem Is My Name


Ryan: They really drive home the point her name is Jem, don't they?

Caroline: No confusion there.

Ryan: Contagious music?

Ryan: Great, now we have to worry about the media going crazy about "Jem Flu."

Caroline: I got the Jem!

Ryan: How did the Misfits manage to get in there and hijack Jem's song for a verse?

Caroline: Remember in the opening credits? YouTube that shit.


Ryan: It's so insanely pathetic that I know so much about Jem.

Caroline: A little bit.

Ryan: I was one drip of estrogen shy of being full on queer.

Caroline: Another tag line for the short list!

Ryan: My best one-liners are totally wasted in IM convos.

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May 17, 2010

I can has


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May 14, 2010

You can't handle the tooth!

Okay, he could.

Aiden's first tooth broke through today. Bottom right front tooth. He celebrated by being rather indifferent, all told. It's funny, when he was born, he had a little white dot on his gums, and we rather stupidly assumed it was a tooth poking through. Then the white dot went away, and we've been assuming teeth were the reason for every cry we didn't totally understand. Now, the tooth breaks through for real, and he's all smiles and laughs. Makes me wish Homer's brother really did invent a baby-to-English translator, in real life.

The local neighborhood is observing an area wide garage/yard sale, which is a phenomenon that has basically grown to a "here's a bunch of stuff you can probably buy cheaper next door and on and on and on down the block, and it's all used crap, so it's all on the corner for free (or trash) at the end of the day anyway."

Come on, a garage sale is only special if one garage in a forty mile radius is conducting it. Otherwise, if every house in the area is selling the same crap, it's just stuff people want to get rid of that doesn't fit in a garbage can and they can't afford to bring to the "recycling center." Hey, if you can make a buck on garbage, great. My father-in-law excels at it on CraigsList. But neighborhood and city-wide garage sales are just junk-swapping excuses.

On to the weekend!

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May 12, 2010

Enfamil Baby


Aiden says: I trust Enfamil because it tastes great, and my ensuing diaper changes are so horrid, my Daddy starts gagging until he practically starts to vomit.

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May 11, 2010

Of Genies and Nipples

Parenthood carries with it all sorts of unexpected little dramas you never dreamed would enter into the parenting equation.

For example, I would never have guessed how important it is to keep Diaper Genie liner refills on hand at all times. Whenever I load the Genie with our last remaining liner, I get some idea what it must have been like for the Germans manning the machine guns on D-Day as an endless stream of allied forces stormed the beaches.

The last Diaper Genie liner is like the last bandolier of ammunition. Once it's gone, you have real problems to deal with, because those allied forces--in the form of unspeakably filthy diapers--just keep coming at you, one after the other.

Or, consider bottle nipples. I didn't realize, until this very week, that bottle nipples come with varying hole sizes. My wife just happened to notice our boy was having an unusually difficult time getting at the formula in his bottle and concluded it was time to move him from low flow to medium flow nipples. I had no idea such a progression was even necessary. I mean, do human breasts come equipped with varying spigot widths? If so, breasts are even more amazing and awesome than I had previously believed, which is saying something, because I held breasts in very high regard to begin with.

Now, if you can imagine a scenario in which you are both out of Diaper Genie liners AND your baby is graduating to larger nipple holes, you have an idea of the drama I experienced tonight after work.

It started off innocently enough. While walking back to my car after work, I called my wife and asked her if I should pick up something to eat on the way home. She agreed take out would be nice, and then she reminded me of our dire need for Diaper Genie liners. Perhaps it would be possible to pick up dinner AND make a Diaper Genie liner run. It wasn't "Mission: Impossible" difficult, but there would be some logistical planning involved. Then she remembered the nipples, at which point she uttered something remarkable:

"Oh, and we need bigger nipples. You should go get those nipples."

The last time I had been given a directive like that, I think I was attending a bachelor party. As it was, I knew perfectly well what my wife meant, which is yet another unexpected side-effect of parenthood: your vocabulary understanding changes drastically.

So, the mission was: pick up something to eat (pizza), and buy Diaper Genie liners and bottle nipples, and hopefully don't confuse the three when I get home, because putting a pizza in the Diaper Genie would just be plain embarrassing.

In my mind, it made the most sense to order pizza and then go shopping while the pizza was prepared. Unfortunately, since I ordered pizza from a Pi Wood Fired Pizza joint, it meant my pizza would be torched and ready to eat within a matter of minutes. So, I place my order and sprinted across the street to the nearby Target.

I've been dealing with Diaper Genie liners for over seven months now, so while I may not be an expert, necessarily, I have more Diaper Genie experience than most high school age Target employees. So, when I asked a young man where they moved the Diaper Genie liners, I was met with a particularly blank stare. I could have just as well asked where they kept the bottled unicorn flatulence.

Eventually, I was handed off to an employee well-versed in the dark arts of Diaper Genie maintenance, and by rare luck the liners turned out to be in an aisle across from bottle nipples.

Another unexpected parenthood realization: there are a lot of different types of bottle nipples. Babies apparently have a wide variety of nipple preferences. I had no idea babies had such an eclectic taste when it comes to their nipples. I imagine babies get together in secret to compare and sample each other's bottle nipples, sort of like an infant version of wine tasting.

Thankfully, my nipple selection process was made simple because I was looking for a very specific brand, and there wasn't much variety to that brand, so I said a silent thank you prayer to the nipple gods, grabbed a couple packs of nipples, and headed for the check-out.

Although my shopping sojourn took all of ten minutes, by the time I returned to pick up my pizzas and wrapped up the drive home, the pizzas were fairly cold, so we had to reheat them in the oven, which sort of put a damper on the whole "Wood Fired" appeal that drew me to the pizza place in the first place.

All is well, however, because now we have the bottle nipples with the larger holes, so the boy can feed more easily, and we have the Diaper Genie liners necessary to hold the diapers that will catch the end product.

Posted by Ryan at 10:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 10, 2010

Bailing out on bailouts

I can't pretend to understand the complex economics of the world. I've always had a suspicious relationship with numbers in general, and I stopped trying to absord the universal language of math after scoring a "B" in calculus in college, thereby filling my one math class requirement. I've spent the last 17 years doing my very best to forget such terms as "quadratic equation."

It's been the written word and me ever since.

So, I can't really wrap my head around the financial numerical engines that drive economies across the globe. I can, however, sniff out a ridiculous-sounding idea when it hits the news.

A financial bailout of a country? I think that qualifies.

How the HELL do you bailout a country? America can't even bailout an auto industry, for crying out loud, and we've been pretty shit-all lousy when it comes to financial sector bailouts, too. Heck, some of them are still on the government doorstep, hat in hand, asking for more.

And the EU thinks it can bailout an entire country? As Wayne once said: "Pshaw! As if!"

But, hey, a $1 trillion flush of a toilet should at least be interesting to watch. I know it's been just AWESOME watching our own bailouts do a faceplant right off the starting line. It will be nice to see someone else try it for awhile.

Someone, SOMEWHERE, is aware that a bailout is just a measure to stay afloat that doesn't actually address the underlying problem that led to the need for a bailout, right?


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May 09, 2010

Crawling backwards to success?

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A little late, but

I now have a bloglines RSS feed.

Subscribe with Bloglines


Of course, I have no idea if I did it correctly, but whatever.

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May 07, 2010

Convenient Experts

There's an ongoing disagreement between me and my wife about television, of all things. She's of the opinion that television is bad for our seven month-old son, whereas I think that's just plain nonsense.

The basis on which I build my side of the argument is that, after an hour-and-a-half of attempting to entertain my boy face-to-face, I'm pretty much desperate for something else that can hold his attention for awhile. And, since television--particularly the "Nick Jr" channel--seems to delight him to no end, I have a hard time finding any problem with it. Besides, watching Nick Jr may actually one day result in the boy learning some Spanish, Chinese and sign language, so he'll have surpassed all his father's communications skills by the age of five.

My wife, on the other hand, always falls back on "experts." After arguing my position until I'm out of breath, she'll always just click off the television and say "All the experts agree television is bad for babies."

I really get frustrated with my wife's "experts" argument, because it's entirely unfair. For starters, she doesn't have to name specific people, or even their professions: they're just "experts." She doesn't even have to bother to tell me where she heard or read of these experts and their position on infant television viewing. They're just experts, and they're all in agreement. How can I even begin to argue with that? I can't even cite leaked e-mails that show experts have been fudging their research numbers and subverting the work of other experts who disagree with them. It's exasperating.

What makes it all even more irritating are the uneven ways by which my wife implements her interpretation of the advice of the "experts." For example, I've noticed that television viewing is particularly bad for our son when I fall back on it after exhausting my own personal Daddy powers. However, television is perfectly permissable if my wife wants to take a ten minute shower.

Television is also okay if my wife has to conduct some business on her computer. Apparently, her understanding of the experts is that yelling "You're doing good, Honey!" from two rooms away to an infant watching "The Smurfs," is entirely acceptable and promotes infant health. However, the moment Daddy flicks on the tube in an attempt to assuage a fussy baby, I'm informed that the "experts" all agree television is rotting our child's brain as we speak.

The rate of brain rot, the experts say, accellerates in direct proportion to how much Daddies may find relaxation and entertainment from the television viewing. Television is at its worst for babies when it seems to be annoying Mommies. It's all based on very complicated research and numbers. It's science.

Personally, I'm inclined to think my wife may be spouting a bunch of bull. I know a thing or two when it comes to throwing bull. You could say I'm something of an expert.

Posted by Ryan at 06:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Check the Title

Caroline: Yes, I open a blank .doc file when I start a new article.

Ryan: See, I always open an old file, delete all the old text, and save it as a different file.

Caroline: why?

Ryan: Habit, mostly. But I started doing it to preserve all the old settings and fonts and margins of the previous file. It never caused any issues, until I came here.

Ryan: Thing is, even if you do a "Save as" of an old file into a new file, the file retains some of the old information from the old file. Such as the title of the document.

Caroline: well that's stupid

Ryan: It is. Anyway, I sent a file on to editing today. It was about "Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation."

Caroline: riveting

Ryan: Guess what the title of the document is. . .

Ryan: "Barbecuing."

Caroline: I can see the connection.

Caroline: Why do you have a doc about barbecuing?

Ryan: I couldn't for the life of me figure out how I had a .doc file about barbecuing. Then I remembered I wasn't the original content producer. It originally came from a freelancer.

Ryan: So, apparently, I'm not the only person who does a "Save as" over previous files.

Caroline: That's so weird. i wouldn't think to do that.

Ryan: It would be interesting to discover just what doc titles are floating around that have nothing to do with the actual content.

Caroline: You and I have different definitions of the word "interesting"

Ryan: Oh, come on. Imagine if "Barbecuing" was the title of a .doc file about Heat Ablation Surgery.

Caroline: Funny, yes. Interesting ... probably not.

Posted by Ryan at 12:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 05, 2010

What a Tangled Web We've Weaved

There was a time when I felt I was generally caught up with technology and its associated effects on how the mass media is distributed and beamed into people's cerebrums.

That time was 3:45 p.m. on Aug. 12, 2004.

Ever since then, I think I've basically been watching the technology/mass media bus leave me behind in a choking plume of diesel exhaust and helplessness

I'm not sure what happened, exactly. One day I felt all hip and with it, with a blog--A BLOG!--and I was writing for a business IT magazine and everything. Now, I'm basically totally confused and out of my element.

It's not like I haven't TRIED to keep up. I have a FaceBook account, and a Twitter account, and a LinkedIn account, and even a Tumblr presence (which I don't much like because it feels like the blogging equivalent of "Meh). But maintaining all those different social and professional networking presences is like trying to juggle kittens: sure, it's amusing, but the claws hurt and it just seems cruel somehow.

It doesn't help that I've never been much of a multi-tasker, and each social and professional networking offering that blinks into existence tends to have its own unique audience, at least for me: Facebook is for friends and family, so watch the effenheimers, if you please; Twitter is for 140 character missives that challenge me to make very tightly wrapped poop and fart jokes; LinkedIn is where I sheepishly ask current and former colleagues to keep me in mind for any writing/editor positions or freelance opportunities and always reminds me of Russell Crowe passing the hat around the bar for donations in "Cinderella Man;" Tumblr's where I post whatever Web flotsam I find amusing on any given day; and of course through it all there's this eternal blog. Oh, and also, YouTube, which I primarily use to upload baby videos.

That's a lot of crap to keep straight in my head, and it's supposed to be FUN, but there are times when it feels an awful lot like work.

And that doesn't even begin to address the world of digital gadgetry, an area that I've had almost no interest in whatsoever. Texting has always struck me as a completely pointless exercise to engage in when I've been writing professionally for over a decade. . . you know, with real WORDS and everything. In those rare instances when I do dabble in LOL-speak, I consider it the equivalent of kicking a dog turd down the street a piece.

I have a cell phone, but I don't really want anything to do with a "smart phone." I have a Microsoft Zune and Flip Video camera, but I only even knew about those because I won them via Pepsi Sweepstakes. I mean, I LOVE the Flip camera, but until I was informed I won one, I had no clue what it was. And, of course, the Flip camera has only led to my further immersion into YouTube.

With the exception of LinkedIn, all the preceeding stuff I dabble in for personal entertainment and archiving purposes. The professional world of the Web has left me completely mystified.

I've been writing freelance articles and humor columns now going back to 1999, so I like to think I have some understanding of freelance writing gigs. But searching for freelance writing opportunities online is like diving naked into a pool full of worms.

I mean, there are a ton of freelance writing opportunities available online, but most of them offer writing gigs that are the literary equivalent of a Chinese sweatshop that requires a single worker to churn out 900 Air Jordans a day for the price of a chicken and a smile. I've seen online content requests asking for 500 word product reviews for $10. At that rate, I'd have to write 23 hours a day, seven days a week, just to pay my mortgage.

And even those 500 word $10 gigs come with their own challenges, including writing for search engine optimization (SEO), which is just a bitch of a way write content. If you read something crafted to appear high in search engine results, you'll notice it's alarmingly similar to listening to the automated voice on the Weather Channel.

Also, perhaps you've already heard, but "Content is King," which is an encapsulated way of saying "throw as much crap against the wall as you can in the hopes that some of it sticks." Those online freelance gigs mentioned earlier? The companies that offer those gigs aren't much interested in general written quality; they just want something--A LOT OF THINGS--they can upload and attach ads to. Which of course just means the Web is getting ridiculously bigger and louder and messier every single day.

And every day it just gets more and more complex, and more and more niche. And I honestly don't know if I can keep running along behind this technology bus much longer, because diesel smoke is just murder on the lungs.

Posted by Ryan at 08:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Ryan: "Mass. woman with no arms preparing for black belt"

Caroline: Glad it's not "Black arm band"

Ryan: "McCorry, her teacher, said he's never seen a student like Radziewicz. Despite her condition, she can use nunchucks and break boards with her kicks."

Ryan: This is where sentence structure comes into play. She can use nunchuks with her kicks?

Caroline: That confused me for a second.

Ryan: How dangerous do you have to be to use nunchuks with your kicks?

Ryan: Like dodging the kick isn't hard enough, you also have to take into account the nunchuks.

Caroline: I wouldn't want to find out. There should've been a 5th Ninja Turtle who was armless and used nunchucks with his kicks.

Ryan: "The foot I could deal with, but those fucking nunchuks got me right between the eyes."

Caroline: Fucking nunchucks.

Ryan: Fuckchucks.

Caroline: Holy nunfucks

Ryan: Sacreliscious.

Caroline: Mmmmm.

Posted by Ryan at 09:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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