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  • Adventures in Bitcoining - Awhile back I posted on my fascination with bitcoin. As it turned out, the post was inspired by the all-time high price of bitcoin . . . up to that point. ...
    5 weeks ago

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Glass Whoopin'



I spent my afternoon vacuuming glass out of my grass. I'll let you fill in your own blanks with embarrassing rhyming alternatives. As it is, the task was an absolute dream. Seriously, nothing says "winner" quite like broken glass in your front yard.

The really sad thing is that it's been there for quite awhile now. If you're from the area and remember that super-windy storm way back . . . I don't know, in the '90s, maybe, you may also recall that the weather has been relatively crappy ever since. Well, in the storm, the wind blew our front storm door open and shattered the top glass panel. A lot of the glass got caught between the screen and the bottom glass panel, creating a vicious little booby trap. The rest of the glass got scattered into the snow-covered lawn.

Ever since, the weather, our lawn, and my schedule have not cooperated at all . . . until today. The era of humiliation is over. The screen has been cut. The glass has been carefully removed from the door. The door has been removed. And, sweet glory, the glass has been vacuumed out of the grass, which was finally dry enough to be properly sucked clean of shards large and small.

But I'm going to miss that glass and the special feeling it gave me, the feeling that I lived in a convenience store that was recently robbed. Our house doesn't look like a crime scene anymore, and it's all so very boring.

Friday, March 28, 2008

GAP


The Going Away Party was a blast. My fantabulous cohorts treated me to a LOST-themed sendoff, complete with Dharma tags on everything, a ticket for my flight, lots of iTunes credits, Edwardo's pizza, island paraphernalia, Mint Meltaways and other heavenly desserts, a book of goodbye notes, and tons of memories in bottles featuring Flashbacks (memories) and Flash Forwards (predictions). It really was so much fun and so touching the way people went to so much trouble for little old me.


One of the coolest things was the book they put together for me, because it featured everyone's animal. I believe that everyone has an animal they resemble. I usually can tell pretty quickly from looking at a person what their animal is. Some people's wild kingdom alter egos are easier to recognize than others, but everybody's got one. At some point, I'll post a more developed explanation of the process. It's kind of a fun thing, although people can get a little too carried away with it. But for the most part, people at the office embrace their animals . . . that doesn't sound quite right, but I think you get the idea.


Anyway, it was an unforgettable experience, and I'm so grateful to have worked with such fascinating and caring people.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Diction Addiction

My other new blog is live, which is more than I can say for me. I hope you enjoy it. Actually, for your sake, I hope you're not at all interested. If you are . . . welcome to the ward.

Caught


My co-workers are hilarious. They have been planning various things for my going-away party on Friday, and they are doing their best to cloak it in as much secrecy as possible. I'm flattered by the notion they're doing anything, so I made a decision right away to respect the secrecy. I'm making no effort to discover what they're planning. I won't even try to imagine what may happen. But to retain some semblance of secrecy, I practically had to wipe my memory.

People have been huddling in small groups with poorly fabricated nonchalance. If I had been paying attention and keeping track, in the past week alone, I would have witnessed 26 not-so-secret secret meetings, caught 147 furtive glances, laughed at 5 dramatic caught-red-handed reactions, and overheard two accidental public disclosures of would-be private projects.

But I'm not keeping track. At all. It's just so much fun, and so flattering to see people work so hard at trying to show me a good time and honor/embarrass me (for me, those two actions are inseparable).

I'm gonna miss these people. But . . . I'm still leaving.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thursday, Friday, Monday

I have three days left at Moody. That's crazy. I am still absolutely excited about what's in store, and I couldn't help but laugh after I decided to play Ray LaMontagne's "Three More Days" on my iTunes. Obviously, the "three more days" part was fitting, but the whole song was perfect. It was just funny how one song could be so perfect for one moment and then . . . never again. At 7:00 AM tomorrow, I'll need a new song for the day. But for now, I'm enjoying this:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Please Advise

I decided to add a new blog today. Actually, I decided today to create two new blogs. The decision was made today, but only one blog was made today. The second one is going to be for word nerds and grammar nazis. (Note: if you found this page on a search for how to be a Nazi, I'm so not sorry to disappoint you.)

But this one is about advice I would give to people famous, infamous, and unfamous. The first installment is my advice to Hillary. Anyway, the blog is called "Dear Me - Advice Nobody Asked For," and you can find it at http://advicenobodyaskedfor.blogspot.com. You can also find anything else anywhere else. But that's neither here nor there. On second thought, it is both here and there. Okay, I'm done.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Overheard . . . Rattling Hum


So Addison hums now. A lot. He usually hums at meals, and it is not often pleasant. The boy's got a nice singing voice, but when he hums . . . well, I don't want to be rude, but it drives Heather and me crazy. Colin likes it.

During the course of most activities, I really don't mind it. It's just at the table during a meal when it really grates on us. I think he hums then because it's the easiest way to carry a tune uninterrupted while eating. I don't think he's even conscious of it most of the time. But one day, it drove me way beyond the point of frustration and straight into the teeth of the cliffs of insanity.

So I tell him, "Addison, please stop humming."

More humming.

"Addison, stop humming, please!"

More humming.

"Dude, no more humming!"

He stares at me. Then hums some more.

"Addison, if you don't stop humming right now, I'm going to . . ."

"Dad, I don't know what humming is."

I've never gone from crazed frustrated anger to refreshing whimsical laughter quite so fast in all my life.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter?



Easter is a weird holiday. Some serious religious dudes a long time ago decided the resurrection of Christ should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. Okay. At some point bunnies got involved. A pastel-chicken-egg toting bunny. Then the eggs and assorted candy gets hidden. So little kids find the stuff, and then we get dressed up. Then there's ham. Or lamb. And finally, they show Charlton Heston crossing the Red Sea on TV.

I don't know. That's weird to me. But it's fun, and I like it. I like the random (and yeah, I know, there's a pagan story behind everything . . . that doesn't make it any less random) celebrations involved in Easter, including the name itself that tells us nothing at all about what the holiday is supposed to be about.

And I really like the fact that Easter is a celebration of something a dead guy did . . . while He was dead. I know that sounds irreverent, but I say it to emphasize the awe and respect Jesus deserves for the power of His resurrection. He was dead. And then He wasn't. And there was no one to come along and lay a healing hand on Him. A dead man, of His own will and power (two things most dead men don't have), stopped being dead. That is scary. I think the random celebrations just might spring out of our inability to come to terms with the power of the resurrection.

Yes, there is hope. Yes, there is joy. But a dead person coming back to life on His own is straight-up crazy frightening to think about. So we just plain do not think about it. We celebrate it. We acknowledge that it happened. But we don't dwell on the idea of what happened too much. Not really. If we did, we wouldn't adorn ourselves in pastels. Heck, we wouldn't wear our nicest clothes, because the thought of what happened should make us mess ourselves.

I won't bemoan the fact that we've become familiar with the craziness of that moment. It's okay. We can't handle it. So . . . we invent mythical bunnies. It's a classic post-shock coping mechanism. And when virgins give birth, we invent obese benevolent elves. That's okay. Really. It's better to just believe and move on then to attempt to understand and/or fathom. We are not psychologically equipped to handle the truth of God's power. I'll give a nod right now to the reality that God is omnipotent, Jesus is scary powerful (literally, frightening . . . He scared His friends half to death on multiple occasions . . . for crying out loud, walking on water was not even in the top two coolest things He ever did . . . that's messed up insane powerful) and I marvel instead at how cute my kids are. Not that I can fathom that either (God sure knows how to make a cute kid), but at least it's not entirely unnerving.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vacation

I think it's time to schedule a vacation. I went through a month of change. I'm in a month of transition. And I'm discovering that no matter what milestones you reach or metamorpheses you undergo, the carousel of day-to-day life doesn't stop on it's own. There will always be something going on, some distraction, some obsession to inject a little unwanted stress into your day.

I've never been much of a vacation guy, because I'm usually pretty low-key on my own. But these days, I'm feeling the weight of stress that has built up over . . . I don't know, five years or so. It's time for a release. It's time to be somewhere that isn't here. It's time . . . for baseball.

I'm also not much of a planner, and a good vacation - I think - takes planning. I mean, they don't just happen. If you want to put life on hold for a moment, you've got to do it yourself. You've got to construct a personal bubble inpenetrable by all other matters of life. You have to go somewhere you won't be bothered. You've got to stay away from Internet connections. You absolutely must forget to bring your cell phone. The word vacation comes from the Greek vakatos, which means "leave me alone." And to be left alone can be hard work.

So I think sometime in the next couple of months, there will be a vacation. There will probably be baseball involved. So I ask you all this question (please vote and comment, especially if your vote is for other):

What city with a baseball team should the Kellogg family visit this spring?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: UPDATE





I've never done a Wordless Wednesday before . . . obviously I'm not very good at them. But I did feel like these pictures revealed a resemblance I'd never seen before. Judge for yourself.
UPDATE: I should probably let you know that the photos are of Addison (#2 and #4) and his late Grandpa Jim (#1 and #3). I will try to post some more photos of others in the family (yes, including me) at a comparable age.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Overheard . . . Lately


Here are some random Addison quotes from the past week or so:

(To Colin) "Stop organizing! Stop analyzing!"

"Let's have Mommy make a cake. She's marvelous."

(On why he wasn't a fan of Bee Movie) "It's too sting-y."

"Can Jesus fly?"

A lot of people have been asking if Addison understands about Grandpa Jim. I really don't know. He accepts the basics pretty readily. He knows death is final . . . but not. He knows Grandpa is in heaven, even though his body was right there in the funeral home. He did ask if the funeral home was, in fact, heaven. He knows that Jesus is in heaven, but he wonders about the logistics of how one might be transported there, hence the flying question. He wonders when we will go there.

Ultimately, I don't know how much more any of us understand the concept than Addison does. If we really understood death, Hamlet would have been a much shorter play, and Addison's questions would be much easier to answer.

But I do know he's paying attention. When it was my turn to speak at the funeral, I talked about the fact that almost everyone who knew Jim called him . . . Jim. Not Mr. Howard or Sir . . . just Jim. Then I mentioned that his daughters did call him "Dad," his grandkids called him "Grandpa" or "Papa," and Colin called him "Aawhaaargh." Addison was present when I was talking, but I assumed he wasn't listening.

Then today he asked me, "Dad, what does Colin call Grandpa Jim?"

"Aawhaaargh," I replied. Addison busted out laughing. He listened. He actually listened. I told a joke, and he got it. I think he got it. He laughed, and he remembered. A lot of people told me I did a good job, and I appreciate that . . . but it's very possible they were just being polite. Public speaking and I don't always get along. But Addison remembered one line, and he asked me to repeat it over and over again, laughing every time. That was the most genuine compliment I could have asked for.

I don't know how much he understands . . . but that kid sure is a lot of fun.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Madness

I don't know the best way to transition. I know the last few days have been a whirlwind. I know that no one uses the term whirlwind in anything other than a metaphorical context. I know that I've pretty much lost the capacity for emotional expression at the moment. So I'm just going to stick with what I know.

I know March Madness.

Now, don't get that statement confused with the notion that I know what I'm doing when it comes to selecting the outcomes of the labyrinthine luckfest that is the NCAA tournament brackets. I don't think anybody really knows what they're doing.

What I know is that I love predicting things. I love the short lived feeling that my gut has some ethereal connection to the goings on of the future. And I love the fact that the NCAA tournament produces 63 (64 if you count the silly play-in game) opportunities to put my prognosticatory abilities to the test. I also love the fact that people with no interest whatsoever in sports will agree to fill out brackets for the chance to make sports gurus look like imbeciles. I love the tracking. The checking. The crossing out. The green winning names and the red strikethrough disappointment that decorate my online brackets as the tourney progresses.

These are the familiar things that make the end of March so beautiful. Some may credit the beginning of spring with the upswing in people's attitudes, but I know better. March Madness makes the world happy. And then, as is the custom of the sporting world, the NCAA Championship Game is held on opening day of the baseball season, completing a segue of ecstasy rivaled only by the 1-2-3 punch delivered by movie previews, dancing cartoon movie snack food, and the feature presentation.

There's a feeling in the air . . . it is the beginning of all that is beautiful. The month of March officially begins on Thursday. And I'm twitterpated.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Please Stop


There are a lot of things at this point that can set off the water works around here. Anything that reminds us of Jim will do it. Pictures. Song lyrics. Memories. You name it. But I think the surefire way to choke anyone up (including me) is just to do something really nice.

That's one thing I'll never understand about being a person. Things that should make you happy and smile and say, "Sweet, thanks!" instead make it hard to swallow, hard to breathe, and hard to stop your eyes from leaking. Free food? Sobs. Let us watch your kids? Boo to the hoo. See Addison in a suit? Tears galore. If someone really does something crazy like call you, say "I love you," say something nice about you, or . . . pass the salt, you just might lose it.

So this is a public service announcement. Please, stop being nice. No more kind words. No more gestures of goodwill. No more thoughtful comments. No more prayer. You're killing us with this stuff!

And by that I mean, thanks a lot. For real. There are so many emotions, and for some reason they all produce tears. I don't think I'll ever understand that phenomenon . . . the whole happiness breeds weepiness thing. Because honestly, the things that really carve me up the most aren't the bad things. It's the nice things, the good memories, the traits we loved most about Jim . . . those are tear factories. I don't know why. If I came up with a plausible theory, the ecstasy of the discovery would probably just make me cry, too.

Anyway, Heather and I really appreciate everyone's kind words and prayers and assorted kindnesses. I can't thank you enough.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Tuesdays with Jim


A few months ago, Heather's dad (Jim) mentioned to Heather that he'd like me to write a book about his life. I thought it was a great idea, so we agreed to do a series of interviews to cover . . . everything. From his earliest memory to his ten-year battle with cancer.

Last night, that battle ended. Jim won. He's in heaven, pain-free, and the cancer is fading to nothing. But the rest of us left here are taking turns blubbering, remembering, laughing, and quietly coping. I just finished my blubbering shift, but I wanted to comment on one of the great gifts of my life.

That handful of evening interviews with Jim were amazing. He relived a little bit of troublemaking on the South Side of Chicago. He journeyed back to summers with his grandparents in Michigan where he met his first crush, a teenage girl ten years his senior. And he returned to his days as an altar boy, where his primary responsibility was sneaking wine with one of his buddies.

Every childhood story was sewn together by the single common thread of drinking. It was like alcohol was his best friend, the only one who never left his side. And I got to hear about it. I had the privilege of hearing his reflections on alcoholism at its worst, his saving grace in his wife Judy, his private revelation from God calling him out of that life and into a new life with Him.

He told me about his father, a man's man, a cop turned mechanic, who could do just about anything around the house or under the hood of a car. And I could see how Jim emulated the things he admired most. But he also told me about Orville, his spiritual father who showed him what it meant to follow Christ, to be a good father and husband. Again, Jim imitated those things he loved, and it made him a great man.

Then I got the cancer stories. He told the recorder (not me . . . when he gave details about his cancer, he most definitely spoke to the recorder to keep his emotions in check) more than I had ever known about his struggle. Conversations with doctors, his fears, and the unexpected grace that came from God and the people who surrounded Jim. It humbled me and emboldened me at the same time.

Here was someone who had the opportunity on this earth to reflect on his entire life and see the unmistakable hand of God in broad strokes and pin points. And as he did, with a candid honesty toward his own faults, he had no regrets. And he talked as if it was only the beginning. And there I was to take it all in. I saw his life, as well as my own, as a story. Not just some "one day at a time" meandering. Everyone's life has a conflict, but without the courage to change, it has no plot.

Jim showed me the plot of his life, the story of how God gave him victory over alcohol, over cancer, and over the sin that drives us away from Him and from each other. It was an incredible privilege that changed me forever. I didn't even realize it was changing me, but it did.

So, Jim, if you're reading this . . . thank you. (Also, if you can pull a few strings up there, is one World Series too much to ask?) I love you, Jim.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Life

If you're anywhere near a church in the next couple of weeks, sometime in this Easter season you'll hear a sermon or a lesson or some occasional speech describing in vivid detail how terrible the crucifixion was. You'll get a reference to the images in The Passion of the Christ. You'll get the hardware catalog rundown of all the devices of torture, all the dimensions of nails and thorns, and all the weight and force equivalents that tell you exactly how hard each weapon is swung and what impact it has on a human body. Then the terms will get scientific. You'll get the doctor's point of view that crucifixion is clinically proven to be very, very bad.

It is the preacher's one excuse for delivering a rated R sermon, and it is designed to shock, to mentally pummel, to disturb. The intent behind delivering such a message is to bludgeon us to the point of appreciation for what Jesus went through on the cross.

But if you've seen someone dying, you don't need the gore to appreciate what Jesus did. When you watch someone who takes in breath as if swallowing sand . . . you don't need any extra details. Death is awful enough in itself. It is a curse. It is humiliating. It is terrible.

And Jesus took it. He died. We have hope after death because He went through that terrible indignity and suffering. We have life because He endured death and all the other stuff that led to it.

That is humbling enough. I know, He went through the worst death imaginable. But . . . all death is bad. It's all bad. And He is so good.

Thank God.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Top Ten Additional Songs To Sing Along In The Car With (Even If I Can't Hit All the Notes)

10. "Carolina in My Mind," James Taylor
9. "Friends in Low Places," Garth Brooks
8. "Rock and Roll," Led Zeppelin
7. "I Go Blind," Hootie and the Blowfish
6. "Yellow Ledbetter," Pearl Jam
5. "Landslide," Fleetwood Mac
4. "Santeria," Sublime (although I like to substitute the lyrics, "I'm not Edgar Renteria. I don't like to play baseball . . ."
3. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," Elton John
2."Cult of Personality," Living Colour
1. "Need You Tonight," INXS

With these lists, there are no jokes. These songs come on in the car, watch out, I'm singin'. And no, I don't care if I hit the notes. I'm singin'. And I love it. I don't pretend I'm on American Idol. I don't care if my voice goes to pot. I only slightly mind if someone pulls up next to me in traffic. (And I could probably do 100 of these lists.)

Rock on.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pardon My French

My son is learning French from a rat. We got him a Ratatouille Leap Pad book/cartridge, and on Sunday I first noticed it had a little "French lesson" page that teaches a few common phrases. Being fluent in French (and by "fluent" I mean I've forgotten almost everything I ever learned) I knew the ones Addison was learning and could help him with pronunciation and a few extra phrases related to the ones he was learning. You know, he learns good morning (bon matin), I feed him goodnight (bon nuit). I'm probably butchering it already.

Anyway, we've done some foreign language stuff with Addison before, and he likes it . . . but it has always been memorizing foreign language words for the heck of it. He never showed any interest in actually using the words or expressions to convey what he really wanted to say. But this time was different.

When the rat told him to say, "Je t'aime," he said it, he understood it, and then he put down the Leap Pad, walked over to me, gave me a hug and said, "Je t'aime."

"Je t'aime, aussi."

Then tonight as I was putting to bed, he started asking how to say different things. Just random expressions. Then I told him, "Je t'aime." He gave me a kiss and said, "Je t'aime, too." And then he asked me how to say, "goodbye." "Au revoir," I told him. "Ollivalor," he said. We worked on it for a few rounds, but . . . it's so hard to pick up the intricacies of the French language on an electronic toy, but Addison's pretty sure he heard it right.

I told him we better stick with bon nuit.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Missing the Blah Blah Blahs

I've got 14 days of work remaining before I leave my current job and start this new adventure called "paying for your own insurance." And I'm pleased to tell you I'm not having second thoughts. Every moment that passes is a reminder that I'm doing the right thing.

But it is not the easy thing. And beside all the financial worries that accompany a move like this (and the self-doubt that never ever goes away), the hardest thing about leaving the place I work is saying goodbye to everybody there. Let me take you through the typical day, and you'll see how good I've had it in the people department.

I start the day with the carpool, which includes my dad. That's pretty special, despite the fact that I snore the whole way there. We walk across the plaza together like we own the place. We don't own it. But . . . well, yeah, we kinda do.

When I get to my department, there's no one else there, normally. People straggle in as the day goes on, and I try to greet everybody at one point or another. I talk a lot. A surprisingly huge part of my day is spent in unplanned (but not entirely coincidental) conversations. I try to cheer people up. It's a sort of challenge. I don't always succeed, but . . . it's kind of an extension of my job.

When you write - no matter what you're writing - you're always writing to a real person. You're trying to connect, to make them glad they just read what you wrote. So . . . that's kinda what I try to do all day long, just in person and without a pen. It's not wasting time, it's practice.

And it's fun. It makes meetings fun. It makes lunch fun. It makes playing wallyball fun (and yes, I still owe you a post about the greatest indoor sport of all time). It makes coffee taste better, it makes walks through the cold feel a little warmer, and it makes long, nasty drives back home through Chicagoland traffic seem entirely endurable.

I'll miss that. Now, I'll totally enjoy doing the same thing with my family. But still . . . I've done it at Moody for so long, and everyone I've wasted the day away with has given me so much of themselves . . . I'll miss that. But I'm still leaving.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Creepy Crawler

No, Colin isn't creepy, but he is creeping. I guess that's what you call it when he's motoring around on the ground without doing the conventional "hands and knees" crawl maneuver. I don't know that he has any desire to ever actually crawl the old-school way. He likes this military style thing he's got going, and so do I. It's a little slower than the other way, and it produces this dragging, scratching sound that makes him really easy to track.



He's also totally talking. And by "totally" I mean he has finally convinced me that the sounds coming out of his mouth are words. Today when I got him up from his nap, he said, "Hi, Dada." And yes, he capitalized Dada which proved instantly he was referring to me and not just to some generic polysyllabic entity. He can also say, "I did it," "So help me," "Bubble," "Thank you," "Mama," and "For crying out loud, Addison, do not grab him by the head, now go to your room!" I assumed that came from Heather, but then the phone rang and it was she calling from her cell on the way home from the store. So I figured it was time I kept a closer eye on the boys . . . and a closer watch on my cold medicine intake. But I digress.



Anyway, these pics are from one of Colin's recent exploits into the saucer portion of his excersaucer. It was an impressive climb for him, as his particular brand of locomotion doesn't lend itself to uneven terrain. And there's another pic from when Addison put sunglasses on him.



Ain't we lucky we got 'em, good times.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Could Someone Please Remind Me?


I promised Addison a donut. I told him . . . Sunday? I think, that if he let me clip his toenails, I'd take him to Dunkin' Donuts the last day. (Yes, I did just use toenails and donuts in the same sentence.) But then, I didn't deliver. That is officially unforgivable. He hasn't brought it up, but that shouldn't matter. He shouldn't have to. You tell someone they've got a donut coming, you bring on the donut. You tell your son a donut is coming his way and fail to bring on the donut, you're a Dunkin' Donut Deadbeat Dad.


The donut, like a wedding ring, is a symbol of unending love. But it's also the symbol for zero, which is how I feel.


Here's the thing . . . Addison doesn't just love donuts, he loves going to Dunkin' Donuts. He loves sitting in the Dunkin' Donuts and eating the donut and getting up twice to get napkins and telling the lady behind the counter thanks for the donut after he's done eating. And he loves sitting across the table from me while he's eating the donut.


And he is dead scared of getting his toenails clipped.


So I've been busy and tired and sick and I forgot. I deserve nothing less than public chastisement. Feel free to rain it down on me. Bring on the insults. Every one will be a reminder that I've got a date tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Way Cooler Water Cooler

Blogging is the new water cooler. To tell the truth, I didn't realize there ever were water coolers . . . or that they are called water coolers, but they were, and they are. Where was I? Oh, yeah, water coolers.

Even when there's no one at the water cooler and you're not thirsty, water coolers are the place to stop for entertainment not at all related to what you're supposed to be doing. When you're alone at the water cooler, you dispense water until air bubbles come up. That's always fun . . . like a cross-section view of a fart. When someone else shows up, you talk about weekends. It usually starts, "Doing anything fun this weekend?" or "Do anything fun this weekend?" (This makes Tuesdays really suck, because it's entirely too late to ask about someones weekend without showing you didn't care enough to ask yesterday, but it's way too early to make fun weekend plans.) The universal implication in the question is, "Seriously, if it's not fun, don't tell me." Most people ignore the implication and go ahead and share mundane weekend plans if that's all they have.

Once a third person enters Water Cooler zone, it's no longer safe to discuss weekend plans because of the possibility that two of the three have already partaken or planned to engage in fun plans that don't include the third person. This is unforgivable, so the third person will introduce his or herself and immediately start a new topic of discussion: television shows and/or sporting events. For some reason, television show discussion works best in threes.

The addition of a fourth person automatically divides the group into two pairs, at which point one pair discusses personal matters they've been waiting for an opportunity to cover while the other pair (usually the last two people to arrive at the water cooler) covers weekends or work . . . if it happens to be Tuesday or Wednesday. Water Cooler talker number 5 is never there for water. They are just lonely and jealous of the other four. Their arrival sparks a brand new topic: crappy things that have happened recently.

It has to be something that is regarded by all the members as a bad thing (person #2 getting screwed out of a promotion won't come up if person #4 got the position). Personal illnesses are popular. Bad weather. (Not snow. Person #3 likes snow, and everyone else knows better than to get him started.) Layoffs. Tragedies. No topic is too sad, because the group is at critical mass and it needs to break up. When the discussion turns somber, everyone nods their heads in faux deep thought. Of course, there is virtually no difference between the FDT head nod and the PAAUJ (politely acknowledging an unfunny joke) head nod--one or the other is inevitable. The head nod and a visit from the boss are the only things that can dependably break up the Water Cooler gathering.

Anyway, my point is that blogging is the Internet Water Cooler. But it's better, because none of these rules apply. You never have to talk about your weekend unless it's awesome. There is no limit to how many can gather. You can be as open or impersonal as you like. You can talk about television shows, but you can do so while watching said television shows. You still feel like you're catching up with the people you like, and the potential distraction from doing anything meaningful is obvious. There are no FDT head nods unless the person whose blog you're reading is in the room. And when you desperately want the conversation to be over, you can just click away instead of trying to invent new body language expressions for "How can you not let the conversation die after three prolonged sessions of head nods?!"

You're gone now, aren't you? Okay. Bye. I'll see you. Have a . . . great . . . weekend.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

tAInted

Before I get a chance to hear what the judges say, I'm gonna make this short and sweet . . . and shocking to myself.

I loved Daniel Noriega tonight. He totally belongs in the '80s. I just loved it. Darn. I wasn't quick enough to type this before Paula made a "bright light" comment.

Okay, and I just heard Simon guarantee the kid's place in the final 12.

Monday, March 03, 2008

ROTFL . . . L

That last L is for "Literally." Addison actually makes Colin roll on the floor, laughing. It is hysterical. Honestly, the activity those boys do together most often is laugh, and it seems like the fulfillment of their very existence. The thing about these pictures is that they were taken during what I swear was a fifteen-minute giggle marathon that I heard as far away in the house as I can possibly get from that spot. When I finally arose to see what could possibly be so funny, I found Addison's material to be extremely simple.
Once again I swear to you, the only thing Addison did to provoke Colin (and himself) into cascading peals of turn-your-brain-off laughter was to say this one line in various intonations and funny faces: "Hello down there!" It started with Addison sitting in Colin's high chair, Colin doing his little two-fisted hammer crawl to see what was going on, and Addison looking down at him and saying, "Hellooooo down theeeere!" Laughter explosion. Then Addison held his nose and said it Chipmunk style, "Hello down there!" Even more hilarious, apparently. Each exclamation of "Hello down there!" was separated by a good 30 seconds to a minute of high-powered, hernia-threatening belly chuckles. Once Addison could catch his breath again, he'd go to that well one more time . . . and it never ran dry.
Eventually, Heather decided that Colin would have to eat lunch, but not before burning an Iron-Man load of calories through laughter that continued pretty much until the first spoonful of mashed mixed veggies came at Colin's face. At that point, a good hearty "Hello down there" might have been the end of Colin. It was a good thing, no doubt, that the hilarity stopped. But man, oh man, that was hilarious.

And honestly I think Addison has it right. He is obsessed with making people laugh. I'd like to think he got that from me, but it has to go deeper than that. Little kids recognize as obvious things that adults manage to forget somewhere along the way. I think Addison sees very clearly that laughing is good. Of the things life offers, laughter is one of the most precious, but it can be sneaky and evasive. If you ever have the opportunity to laugh, go for it. Whatever worry might be occupying your mind, it will come back. But laughter fades away . . . or it causes you to choke on pureed produce.