My New Home
Homeowner’s Contractor Companion—a behind-the-curtain, BS-proof guide to the home improvement estimate, selection, and negotiation process - I’m a salesman for a home-improvement contractor, Kraz Construction. I’m not a project consultant. I’m not an estimator. I’m not an energy savings speciali...3 days ago
Sunday, December 30, 2007
We just got the book from the library a couple of days ago, but now Addison insists on reading it over and over and over again. His insistence probably springs from the fact that during his initial read, the page with this picture and the words "Now you're wearing a box," made him laugh.
And it didn't just make him laugh. They were deep, seizing, please-stop-tickling-me belly laughs not unlike the laughter I produce when Chris Farley dances or Dave Chappelle does just about anything. It's laughter that constricts your temples and strains your gut. Addison is especially prone to this kind of chuckle, I think, because he likes it so much.
To Addison, laughing is the pinnacle of human existence. Not sure where he gets that. But to him, if you're laughing, you've arrived. The only higher plane of fulfillment is to transport someone else into the land of the laughing. He's pretty good at knowing what will make someone laugh, but he's even better at sniffing out the things that will make him laugh . . . and then squeezing out every drop of laughter he can from that tiny little belly of his.
So why was this picture so funny? Man, I don't know. But even after a couple hundred readings, it still gets him, and I love that.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
- Addison, after being told he had watched enough TV.
And this is a picture of Colin, because we just don't put enough pictures of him here.
And, big fat fun hellos to Jil and Rhonda (aka Mimi, aka Mrs. Wilson, aka Mama Wilson, aka Steph's mom) and Steph, three wonderful blasts from the past who have recently brightened this blog with their presence. Thanks for stopping by and saying hello. I miss you all.
Friday, December 28, 2007
9. Botched plastic surgeries
8. The fame of Ryan Seacrest
7. Heated car seats
5. Those weird computer animated dancing characters that show up inexplicably in online ads for discount mortgages
4. Commercials for prostate medication
3. Bryant Gumbel
2. People who forgive themselves and no one else
1. Things designed to make public communal use seem less disgusting, like those paper toilet seat liners or the little sock footy things for trying on shoes at the store or sneeze guards at buffet lines or the rubber gloves the dentist wears or the paper they put down on the weird not a chair not yet a bed thing the doctor makes you sit on
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Start using the Crystal Meth made without pseudoephedrine, even if it isn't as effective in treating my cold. (By the way, in the 2 minutes I spent looking for pictures to include with this observation, I realized that stuff really messes you up. Meth, that is, not pseudoephedrine.)
Irony of the Year
That something would be used in place of a drug that was pseudo to begin with. Does that make it pseudopseudoephedrine? Or just ephedrine?
Band I Figured Would Be a Terrible One-Hit Wonder After Hearing Just One Not-Bad Song by Them
Plain White T's. First time I heard "Hey there, Delilah," I thought it was worth another listen. The next thought I had was, "Oh, wait. They will probably never record anything half this good . . . and the more I listen to this song, the less I like it.
Thing I Can't Remember from 2007
Life without Colin. He , our second son, was born July 11, but I can't remember what it was like to have one kid. I can remember a little better now what it was like to have no children. I shouldn't say that, but it's true. Two kids is wonderful, don't get me wrong. It's just . . . the list of things we don't make time to do is getting longer since July. I don't regret the sacrifice--correction, it's not a sacrifice. It's laziness on my part. And that's the point, I guess. With one kid, the change came as such a whirlwind. The little things that got blown out of our schedule just seemed insignificant. Or I figured that stuff would go back to normal on its own. Dates. Conversations. Movies. Vacations. Dreams. Spending leisure time with someone who didn't require diaper changes.
But with the second kid, I realize fully that none of that stuff just happens on its own. And it isn't stuff we had to give up. We just have to work harder for it. All those things, though, are gone for good unless I make a point to get organized.
Thing Anyone Who Knows Me Recognizes As a Long Shot
Me getting organized.
Top 10 Addictions of 2007
9. Blogging . . . suddenly
8. Buying Coffee
7. The Cubs (#7 only because I hope it's lucky)
6. Harry Potter
5. Patty Griffin
4. Fantasy Football
3. Crystal Light (since I gave up pop)
1. Going to McDonald's and/or Dunkin' Donuts with Addison
Painful Realization of 2007
Seriously, you have no idea how hard it was to narrow my addiction list down to 10. Ugh.
Word I Used Entirely Too Much in 2007
Things That Came Out in 2007 I Couldn't Wait for And Wasn't Let Down By
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Patty Griffin's album, Children Running Through. Oh, and Colin.
Reason to Stop Adding Things to This Blog
It's Bed Time.
Warm iron if needed.
If needed? If needed? Why is the tag suddenly giving me options about steps in the laundering process? At first I thought it was just being extra protective of the garment to which it was attached. "Hey there, buddy, what are you doing with that iron? Is that really necessary? Hey, back away. That's hot! What are you doing?! I'll tell you anything you wanna know! Stooooop!" Or even more of an Al Gore feel: "There is no sense wasting any more of the earth's precious natural resources on the appearance of these clothes unless it is absolutely necessary."
But I came to the resolution, based almost entirely at the way it was looking at me, that the tag was really passive aggressively trying to get the clothes ironed. You know, "You've done enough, really. I mean, you washed me, you dried me. You don't have to iron me. Don't put yourself out. Unless you think I need it. But no, don't bother. Not for little old me. I'm just a sweater. I don't expect you to care whether I'm wrinkled like a used Kleenex or if I'm clean and freshly smooth like a rolling meadow on a summer day. Do what you feel is best. Oh, you're gonna iron me? Oh, okay, only if you need to."
I can't stand that.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
This woman, if you're not familiar, is Patty Griffin. If you don't love Patty, you haven't heard Patty. If a) you have heard Patty AND b) you don't love Patty, then c) you are a rock. She has the most amazingly powerful reedy voice that any human being has ever possessed. Her voice is more than just the sound emanating from her mouth, it is the incredible message resonating from her soul.
I won't go on forever, although I could. I'll say only that I saw her live, and the experience was borderline miraculous. She is a very small woman, but she nearly tore the Vic Theatre down with an auditory explosion of heart-piercing, earth-shaking grandeur. Today, she shook my living room.
You should really check her out. Her genre is best stated as genuine music. Maybe not best stated, but that's how I'll state it right here. Happy Boxing Day.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Try it out . . . as of this moment, it still works. Go to Google. Type this:
raise your hands in the air
Not an exact phrase search, just a search. If you click, "I'm feeling lucky" (which takes you to the number one google result) you'll wind up looking at pictures of Addison's soccer team. If you do the same thing for this term:
weird ways to say happy Christmas
You'll wind up on this blog also. It's the strangest thing. The weird ways phrase . . . I can't imagine ever typing that. But the classic hip-hop ice breaker of the '90s, "Raise your hands in the air, and wave 'em like you just don't care" . . . how my site would register as the top result for the first half of that is absolutely beyond me.
I think it's hilarious.
And I know as you get older, your toys are supposed to develop, but mine haven't. I can't get that jazzed about power tools. I'm not attracted to boats or guns or sports cars. I actually like Addison's toys more than any of that stuff. And he is infinitely more interested in tools and construction and trucks than I ever was. Yes, I think I am admitting that my four-year-old son is more of a man's man than I am.
It is the stunted growth of my toy lust that makes Christmas so much fun for me. See, my years of actually receiving toys (the kid ones, not stuff like DVD players and HD anything) are gone, so my long-starved appetite for all things toy is finally being fed. Addison's 5th Christmas is the first one offering me toys I can really get into. I mean, I'm not a toy infant. I don't drool over teethers and exersaucers.
But this year, Santa brought slot cars, toy trumpets, firefighting water guns, Rubik's Cubes, Hot Wheels sets, and miscellaneous talking tow trucks back into my life. And it was as much fun as I can remember a Christmas ever being.
Now let me walk you through some of the moments pictured here. The first pic is from Christmas Eve, when Addison unwrapped a talking Mater toy from Aunt Amy. Aside from one of my favorite pictorial instructions of all time (the instructions actually indicate with arrows that if you push the truck, it will zoom forward . . . i.e. it has wheels that really turn!) I just loved Addison's reaction to his first glimpse of Mater. His face lit up like a star over Bethlehem, and his voice went up an octave (which, if you've ever heard him talk, is really saying something). The trumpet-playing firefighter came about 1.5 seconds into the initial stocking surveillance. This kid can put on an outfit and break into a toy faster than Santa up a chimney. And the third moment, filled with gleeful intensity, came after a 20-minute frenzied track installation and successful search of the battery bin. The endorphins really start jumping when I get to put D batteries in stuff. Every moment was bliss. I think Addison liked it, too.
I feel like when I type this much, there really should be a deeper point, but . . . my only point is that toys rock. Amen.
Life is complete. Christmas is grand. The world is as it should be.
Merry Christmas from the Kelloggs, Lightning McQueen, and Doc Hudson!
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I felt proud and satisfied to have lasted so pathetically briefly between face-stuffings. And I couldn't help but think as I was enjoying the chipotle BBQ snack wrap . . . and then the gingerbread donut and coffee, "I don't care what anybody says, this food is good."
But something along the way really cracked me up. I was in the middle of paying for the donuts when Addison looked up at the poster on the wall and said, "That's Rachael Ray!"
Now, it wasn't just the fact that he recognized her. That, in and of itself, is disturbing enough, I know. But it was the enthusiasm with which he greeted her likeness that really struck me as hilarious.
It's true. Addison has his first celebrity crush. He has said, "She's cute." I do believe she's the first person over the age of 2 to receive Addison's cute label.
I don't know what to think about it. I know a lot of people were really upset with Rachael Ray's decision to endorse Dunkin' Donuts. I was one of those who was a bit disappointed in Dunkin' Donuts, but that's just me.
Of course, Addison is also in love with Dunkin' Donuts, so maybe it's just love by association. Either way, it's cute. And if Rachael Ray . . . or a donut . . . marries into my family, I'll learn to adjust.
Friday, December 21, 2007
There are plenty of fascinating facts here, but I'm particularly fascinated by these:
87% - Americans who believe holidays should be more about family and caring for others, not giving and receiving gifts.
79% - Do not believe it’s necessary to spend a lot of money in order to have a fulfilling and enjoyable holiday.
$457.4 billion - Expected holiday sales in 2006.
$435.6 billion - Holiday sales in 2005.
$15.8 billion - Amount spent on new holiday decorations in 2005.
87% - People who donated money to a charity in 2005 (religious or nonreligious).
62% - People who donated their time to a charity in 2005 (religious or nonreligious).
50% - Yearly charitable donations made between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
$260 billion - Total charitable donations in 2005
According to those stats, Americans probably give a little more than 1/4 as much to charity as they do to retailers everywhere. That may sound materialistic, but when you consider that HALF of charitable giving comes between Thanksgiving and New Years, you can say with confidence that nonmaterialistic giving spikes over the holidays. America, as a culture, becomes less greedy and materialistic at Christmas. Tax-motivated as it may be, the giving speaks for itself. Yes, America consumes more at Christmas. But we give more, too!
I know a lot of people feel they need to make a choice between giving lots of presents, giving nothing at all, or giving to charities instead. The nothing at all people can be set aside for this discussion. I mean, we can divide them into two categories: people who don't celebrate Christmas, and people who are cheap as dirt. If you don't celebrate Christmas, that's fine. No law saying you have to. That's another discussion. And if you're just plain stingy, you probably have a very holy-esque reason for being like that. Regardless, if you don't believe in giving, than this discussion is moo.
But if you do believe in celebrating Christmas with giving of one form or another, it doesn't have to be either one form or the other. Don't assume you have to choose between charity and personal gifts. In fact, I've got serious questions about that practice. I'm not ready to have the "Listen, Son, this Christmas I'm going to give to the needy instead of to you" discussion. Nor would I want to say, "Sorry, hungry kids, my son wants a Wii." It's good to give gifts to your children, your friends, and your family. It's good to give to charity. It's good to do both without clinging to your cash (or deepening your debt).
I guess my point(s) is (are) . . . don't judge people based on the number of gifts under their trees. Be more concerned with your own motives for giving or not giving. Teach your kids to give generously by giving generously to them and by giving them the opportunity to give as well.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
There's something about Turk and J. D.
There are some friendships that you can never duplicate. There are plenty of friendships to be forged in this world, but in my experience . . . I'm sorry, I have to break out the term, as second-grade as it sounds . . . best friends come along only once in a very long while, maybe your whole life. The Chandler to your Joey. The Denny to your Alan . The Paul to your Kevin. The Tom to your Huck. The Jonathan to your David. The Turner to your Hooch.
Some people don't believe in best friends, but I definitely do. I doubt that everyone truly finds one, but should you be lucky enough, it is one of the great fulfilling joys you'll ever know. It's hard to describe. A good friend can make your world feel right, keep you thinking straight, give you the confidence to be the person you believe God designed you to be.
Best friends, I genuinely believe, are connected at the soul, and they don't mind the intrusion. I miss mine. It's been about four years, but the funny thing is, if I saw him right now, it would be like we've been living next door to each other for the last ten years. Still, I miss him. I've got two sons who would love to get to know him. Here's to hoping they get the chance.
The song has its cultural connotations (The William Tell overture and The Lone Ranger theme) and I can't say they're entirely inapplicable. I'm sure there are days (i.e. most of them) when she feels like the Lone Ranger and still others (probably not too much more than half) when she feels like firing an arrow in our son's general direction. She is the best. But being the best doesn't come without its share of frustrations. View, listen, and laugh with (not at, surely not at) the summarized travails of mommyhood.
Friday, December 14, 2007
1. This song is awesome.
2. Feist is awesome.
3. This video is especially awesome. It's one continuous, unbroken shot with enough choreography to give Debbie Allen an aneurysm. There's no editing. No CGI. And apparently no limit to the twists, turns, and loop-the-loops the camera can perform. Watch carefully and be amazed that they could pull this off in one take.
4. I've come to a discouraging realization about why people argue. I'm talking about all arguments from personal bickering and lively discussions to online debates or legal proceedings. We (and by we I mean society) don't argue to defend the things we believe in. We're not upholding the ideals on which our lives are founded. We aren't being loyal to our besmirched friends. We aren't nudging our verbal combatants toward some altruistic point of development. When a statement or idea offends us or just strikes us as untrue, what compels us to rebut? We're defending ourselves and attacking others.
I'll leave the collective we for now. I like being right. I hate being wrong. I really don't think I'm alone in this. I admit, I like proving other people wrong. It is one of life's great guilty pleasures to show that the Wrong people are, in fact, wrong. I really don't care about the topic. Sure, there are topics I care about more than others, but if I'm honest with myself, the thing that's most important to me about the topics I hold dear is the simple fact that I care. If the voice of God were to call down from Heaven and say, "The Democrats have it right," or "The designated hitter really was a good idea," to me the great personal tragedy would not be the years of unwise policy and unnecessary pitcher at bats. No, no, the horror of it all would be recognizing that all these years I had been wrong.
Being wrong feels bad. Being right feels okay. Proving other people wrong feels the best of all. That's what every argument boils down to. I'm convinced. And it's so easy, because being wrong is what we do best! There will never be any shortage of wrongness in this world. That's the reason there are so many books. Every self-help book ever written can be summed up in four words: "You're wrong. Ha ha."
Here's where it gets real good. You have a limited array of options. You could disagree with me and tell me how I'm wrong. You could tell me that arguments are great opportunities for drawing people together in a common quest for truth, a journey toward righteousness along the path of enlightenment. You could shoot down any number of my observations and conclusions. You could prove me wrong. (Feels good, doesn't it?)
Or you could disagree with me and internalize it. You won't fall for my little trap. Maybe you've already stopped reading, I don't know. But deep inside you know that this argument is so ridiculous, I'm such a blathering idiot, that continuing the discussion is in and of itself an insipid exercise in futility. By not commenting, you're doing the right thing. And I'm sooo wrong. (Mmmmm.)
I guess another option would be that you see my point, but you see it from a far less cynical point of view. The opportunity is there to argue with good intentions and avoid the pitfalls of self-serving egotistical rhetoric. If we can all humbly, honestly discuss matters (including this very topic) we can arrive at a higher plane of understanding. Oh, wouldn't that just feel good for all of us? (Especially the delightful admission of Adam's wrongness. Tricky, huh?)
Your only other option, as I see it (maybe I'm wrong, and wouldn't that just tickle you) is to agree with me. Grab a firm hold of the concept of total human depravity. Realize that everybody is utterly, completely, thoroughly wrong. About everything. The good feeling of that one might subside when you realize that you're included in that group; that the only person who was ever really right died for our wrongness; that the Word of God is not a reminder of how right we are but of how wrong; that even our understanding of the Bible is tempered by habitual wrongness; that the illumination of the Holy Spirit seems to be in constant struggle against our willful love for personally generated rightness that is the most wrong thing about us; that being right is never of ourselves.
Never mind. I'll just sit over here being wrong and enjoy the video.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
But in that moment, the Christmas season starts for me, because the significance of the biggest step down in history really sinks in. And it makes me happy that it's Christmas.
This year, the True Meaning staged a two-pronged attack. The first campaign came from Russia, as I was writing a mini biography about one of my best and dearest friends. She has quite a story of how God swept her out of the Union formerly known as Soviet and brought her to the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave, and the World of the Redeemed. That got me a little sensitive. And it reminded me of how personally God chases down each one of us. He didn't come down to Earth just to save the world; He came to save me.
Then punch number 2 landed. I heard a guy in chapel retelling the story of his liver transplant. The thing with liver transplants (okay, there's not just one thing, they're really complicated and dangerous) is that a living donor runs a serious risk of no longer living. And that was one reality this guy couldn't handle at the time. He could come to terms with his own mortality, but he couldn't handle the thought of any of his loved ones dying in an attempt to save him. Obviously he got over that little hang up, because he wasn't dead at the time of this chapel. The point is, a voluntary brush with death on your behalf is a truly humbling gesture (not one of those fake humbling gestures that actually inflate your ego). Someone volunteers to die for you, you get a little choked up.
I got a little choked up. The birth of Christ meant a little bit more to me, now. He came down to this planet we ruined, and He did so with the knowledge, not that He might die, but that He would. And we didn't have a chance to refuse. Had I that chance, that little window in time in which I could have said, "No, Jesus, don't do it," well . . . it's a moot point. He didn't ask.
Well, those events got me in the Christmas spirit. It's a good feeling. I wish the same for you. Merry Christmas.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I've been hearing a lot of talk about the excess of Christmas. People spend, spend, spend, and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, all at the expense (so I'm told) of the true meaning of Christmas. But I gotta confess . . . I disagree. Whether anyone at Target will admit it as they're snowblowing a path through the mounds of cash blocking the way to their Happy Holidays vault, this season is all about Christ. His birth was awesome. To celebrate, people spend. They decorate. They give ridiculously expensive gifts in front of lavishly adorned fake and/or dead trees. They wear silly clothes. And I got news for you . . . that ain't an American custom. That's Old Testament, baby.
Crazy outfits, endless parades of valuable gifts, strange rituals you just can't explain the meaning behind . . . sounds like a Tabernacle dedication to me. That weird stuff is just how people celebrate God. Granted, your heart is supposed to be in the right place, but you know what? The holiday isn't about my heart. It's about Jesus. You let me worry about the condition of my heart, and keep going overboard with the celebrating of Christmas. Don't wait for me to be holy before you start making a big deal out of the birth of Christ.
Someone, somewhere is asking how any of it relates to the story of Christ's birth, and to you I say this: He's the only reason we're doing it. What does cake have to do with me being born? What does a tail being pinned to a donkey's hindquarters have to do with me being born? (Don't answer that.) What does candle blowing, invite sending, gift opening, wish making, butt spanking, happy-birthday-song-copyright infringing, card writing, face stuffing, and pole dancing (don't ask) have to do with anyone anywhere being born? It's fun, that's what. When something cool happens, having fun is a great way to celebrate. However you decide to show it, that's the perfect way for you.
People who are out of touch with Jesus celebrate His birth by celebrating in an out-of-touch way, and it's wonderful. Atheists celebrate by being extra obstinate when people say Christmas . . . it's their way of saying, "We have to bring something to the party." Thank you, Atheists. Pious people celebrate by being extra sanctimonious. It's fantastic . . . everyone's true colors come out during Christmas. The ultimate display of who you choose to be comes shining through at Christmas. It's kind of like the rocks and trees of your personality crying out to praise Him. None of this would be possible without Jesus. Without Him, nothing that was made would be made. When it comes to celebrating Jesus, there can be no excess. Everything's mere existence bears testimony to His redemptive power.
So don't tell anyone they're celebrating Christmas wrong. Just let people pour their ridiculously priced perfume on His feet and wipe it off with their hair. Yeah, it's weird, but He's worth it.