Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where Can You Talk to a Wall and Not Look Like an Idiot

Several years ago, I discovered MySpace and my online life completely changed. With time, I switched over to Facebook and really started spending time online. As we all know, Facebook has revolutionized the way people use the internet to communicate. We are in contact with each other in ways previously unimagined, but is it too much?

Before I get started, I want to make it clear from the beginning that this is NOT an anti-Facebook or anti-social media post. I may stray into the anti-stupidity realm, but that is the fault of our education system and poor parenting skills. Facebook and Twitter are just the places that stupidity gets displayed.

There are many social media sites out there, but I will be concentrating on Facebook.

Like many people, I have appreciated being able to reconnect with old friends and family, but in most circumstances, the reunion was a letdown. After the quick "Hey, what's up?" it's over and now you're stuck with another friend on your friend list that you will never talk to. Sure, you can delete him, but then you feel like an idiot for adding him to begin with. What did you think was going to happen? Did you expect to pick up right where you left off as soon as he saw that friend request?

People grow apart and move on. It's part of life and it's okay. Was it really that big of deal that you haven't spoken with the kid that used to eat glue since you left junior high? Had it kept you up nights knowing that the Latino kid who was in your class for one semester of your 4th grade year may have gotten married since then and you have never seen a picture of his kids?

Once again, I am not saying Facebook is bad, but the ease of being able to find people allows us to entertain unhealthy obsessions. Who hasn't looked up an old boyfriend/girlfriend just to see what they are up to? No friend request. Just a creepy look through their pictures and a few of their status updates. This is also done regularly with the kid that bullied you in school, that girl/boy who you never asked out but always wanted to, that nasty person you hated, your old boss, or the guy/girl you just met on Friday night. It has become commonplace, but is actually really creepy.

It is very useful for staying in closer contact with people you already communicate with. It is wonderful to be able to just crank out a quick message on your keyboard to someone and know that they will get the message within a few hours. I use it to communicate with church members, school officials, my daughter (that's sad), other bloggers and various other friends. I have no idea how many messages I send and receive in a single day, but Facebook is easily my main source of communication. If Facebook were to ever crash, millions of people would have to tweet to each other about the lack of Facebook access. Until it came back up, teenage girls all over the world would have no place to upload the pictures of themselves in their bathroom mirrors.


Despite our obvious dependency, it is very useful and I have no intention of giving it up. Many great causes have been brought to light by Facebook users. It is by far the easiest way to send out invitations for an event. Grandparents several states (or countries) away can see the latest pictures of the grandkids. People use Facebook to announce engagements, births, anniversaries and various other pieces of celebratory news. It is also useful for when the news isn't so cheerful. I have learned of funerals by reading my Wall. Many news stories have been brought to my attention because I saw it on Facebook. This is even how I learned that my neighbor's house had burned down. It happened while I was sleeping and I read it on Facebook before I stepped outside that morning.

However useful this immediate access to information may be, that does not mean that everything on Facebook is useful or even needs to be shared. Twenty years ago, if a woman was mad at her husband, she would call her mother or a girlfriend and gripe to them about was a no good, lazy bum he was. Today, they can crank out a quick status update to display his shortcomings to the world. I have seen this on countless occasions from both men and women.

Some people post the link to every music video they watch on Youtube. They post endlessly about every step their baby takes and when s/he poops. The people we like to avoid because they can't talk about anything besides their latest illness or medication they have been prescribed invade our walls with persistent posts about their doctor visit and the aches and pain they experienced when they last vomited.

Recent FACEBOOK thoughts:

I understand that Facebook may have therapeutic value in helping you to get things off your chest, but maybe, just maybe, the reason your kids are driving you nuts is because they are hungry and waiting for you to get off Facebook and fix dinner.  

Thank you for the picture of the cute thing your kitten did today. It is so much cuter than the 15 you posted yesterday.

Your dinner tonight is really good? I don't believe you. Oh, you posted a picture. Now I have no choice.  

I am so sorry that I thought you were about to commit suicide and sent the cops to your place. It's my fault for not being familiar with current music and realizing that you were just expressing yourself through song lyrics.

Girls, that duck lips face that you are making at the camera is NOT attractive. I don't know who told you that it was or why after seeing the picture you choose to post it anyway, but STOP IT.

I would love to comment or like your most recent update, but your lack of punctuation, capitalization and properly spelled words prevents me from being able to understand what you are trying to say. At the very least, use a period to show me where one sentence ends and the next begins.

ENGLISH: It's your native tongue. LEARN IT!!!

I know I kind of got off on a tangent there, but those things had to be said. Facebook and other social media is great and has only begun to be used to it's potential. However, not all information needs to be put out there. The ease of use has caused many people to forget where the lines of decency are. A good portion of the next generation does not even have that filter. Every thought is fair game to be thrown out to the world. We are connected in marvelous ways that could not have been imagined just a few years ago, but it is possible to be too connected.

This post was prompted by Tammy Soule when asked for topic suggestions. Topics found here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

How Many Preschoolers Fit in a Box?

This morning I tackled a task that I have been dreading for the last few months. Due to summer activities and one of the regular workers asking to take the summer off, my church has been a little short-handed on preschool workers. Last April, when I was approached to help, I adamantly declined. I have no desire to work with small children even when I am getting paid for it. You can read here (Teacher Troubles) about the time I was stuck with 24 of them for an entire day. Despite my protests, they didn't back down and I reluctantly agreed to take one day. Today was that day.

I had forgotten about agreeing to do this until a book was set in front of me at last week's dinner. It contained the lesson plan for today. My daughter, who was to be my assistant, was told she would have to walk me through it. She has assisted with the children many times and apparently is pretty good at it. Neither of us picked up the book, each assuming that the other was going to get it. On Wednesday, when I asked Kirsten for the book, we realized what had happened. I looked all over the church and my home for that book and finally realized that I would be walking in blind with no lesson.

I have taught hundreds of times and most of the time write my own lessons, but it is generally for teenagers or adults. At those ages, the lesson are information based. With tiny little moron kids, you have to do activities to keep their minds occupied and prevent them from biting each other. Then, while you have them distracted, you try to sneak in a nugget of knowledge or two and call it a productive lesson time. I am not good at this type of teaching.

Clowns make people happy.
There were seven children, including two I had never seen before and would not speak. One of them was a boy content to dig through the bins of toys and keep himself occupied. He wouldn't acknowledge me in any way, but he seemed pretty low maintenance, so I didn't mind. The silent girl sat at the table and stared at me, but would not speak. I could almost detect her head moving when I asked her a question, but I couldn't be sure. I was just happy that no one appeared to be scared of me. The smaller children often seem to have a heightened sense of paranoia.

The kids were pretty well behaved and I spent most of my time throwing toys back in the bins so there would not be a huge clean up afterwards requiring me to take bids from contractors. My daughter was on bathroom duty and escorted them when they suddenly realized they had to go. I was grateful to have her there for that, but then she said, "Who's ready for a snack."

ME: (exasperated) Why would you say that?
KIRSTEN: Say what? 
ME: About the food?
KIRSTEN: It's time to eat.
ME: We are only in here for an hour and everyone is happy. What have you done?
KIRSTEN: Dad, we have to feed them.
ME: No, we don't. Once again, one hour.
KIRSTEN: I don't see what the problem is.
ME: You don't fix what isn't broke. This will only lead to disaster.

As we were having this debate the kids had made their way to the table and were already demanding what they wanted.

ME: See what you've done.
KIRSTEN: Just throw some food at them.

Kirsten pulls a box of graham crackers out of the closet. I objected on the grounds that we had to clean this room before we left.

ME: No. Too many crumbs.

Kirsten rolls her eyes, returns to the closet and comes back with prepackaged apple slices.

ME: No, too sticky.

Kirsten appeared frustrated. I don't know why, I was only trying to help. She doesn't always think these things through. She suggested we start with the drinks since the kids were starting to complain. She gave each kid a cup and asked me to grab the juice.

ME: Juice? That will get everywhere and once again, sticky.

Kirsten stepped around me to get the juice and knocked a box of raisins to the floor. One of the kids immediately started crying.

SHORT PERSON: (wailing) I don't like raisins.

Raisins OR bloated ticks
I picked up the box and yelled, "This box is full of bugs!" I then threw several of the raisins on the table and told the kids to kill the bugs. They just looked at me.

ME: (urgently) Kill the bugs before they crawl away and get in the other classes!

The little boy that hadn't spoke all through class ran up to the table and smacked his hand on one of the raisins and squished it.

ME: Good! Now, quick, eat the bug.

He popped it in his mouth and smiled. I threw more raisins on the table and the kids simultaneously went nuts trying to smash them all and cram them in their mouths before they crawled away. This included the kid who insisted he didn't like raisins.

We made it through snack time with no messes and never did serve the drinks, but the kids didn't notice and Kirsten did not object. We passed the rest of the time making animal noises and I scared one kid by removing my finger. She hid in the corner until I promised to put it back on and not do the trick again. I debated since she was very quiet in the corner, but the other kids had grown weary of that trick anyway.

Parents eventually started showing up to reclaim their children and due to our pre-planning, there was very little clean up. Once again, I have survived a room full of small children. However, I still have no desire to do it again.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

From Ferris Wheel to Hospital Waiting Room

I spent a good portion of my day at the hospital with Adam. He had to have surgery again today for his recurring abscess problem. This is his 8th occurrence since the beginning of the year. If you would like to catch up with this story here are the previous posts in order:
This was the largest one yet and they scheduled emergency surgery to get it taken care of. He is fine and doing well, but I wanted to share a couple of hospital room statements.

As Adam is just coming out of anesthesia:
NURSE: Adam, are you doing okay. How do you feel?
ADAM: (eyes still closed) Were there budget cuts?
NURSE: Budget cuts? What?
ADAM: (a little clearer) Has there been budget cuts since I went to surgery?
NURSE: (laughing) Adam, sweetie, I don't know what you're talking about?
ADAM: (opens eyes) I was just wondering why I no longer have a pillow.

As the nurses kept coming in to check on him, Adam was going in and out of consciousness from all the painkiller he was on. Despite the questions they had about what kind of pain he was in and how he felt, he insisted on telling them about the internet love story of myself and Red. They thought it was the incoherent babbling of a drugged man, but he got all the details right. He would not allow any other topic to be discussed for almost 30 minutes.

For whatever reason he had my love life on his mind, it must have been sparked by knowing that I had just spent the previous day with Red. We spent the day viewing various parts of the Indiana countryside and landed at a carnival that evening. I know some of our readers have been curious as to how well we are getting along and wondering if we have found ourselves to be compatible. I think that can be answered by how we spent a large portion of our time at the fair.

Coolest T-shirt find - I know. I'm a nerd
We each had our cameras out trying to capture people wearing the most ridiculous outfits to send to Misty at Misty's Laws for her Weekly Whacked segment. We were highly entertained by the couple in the matching camouflage shorts, the number of girls wearing cowboy boots with shorts and the woman frantically chasing her toddlers that would not stay by her side. Having someone to make fun of people with is much more rewarding than doing it by yourself, plus it gives me a greater sense of self-righteousness when another person is in agreement at the cluelessness of others.

NOTE: According to Blogger, cluelessness is not a word. However, I am still enjoying some feelings of superiority from yesterday, so I will refuse to change to another word. Blogger just needs to get smarter.

When we weren't making fun of the other fair goers, Red was turning several shades of green as we climbed on rides with teenagers to show them how it's done. I don't know what we showed them, but we succeeded in not getting sick despite the constant spinning of some of the rides.

For those of you paying attention to the ongoing story of Red and myself, we are getting along wonderfully and appreciate those of you that have been rooting for us. We will keep you up to date. Mostly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Last Meal

At the end of last summer, I hit a wall for a few weeks when trying to decide what to write about. I eventually wrote a post asking my readers for topic suggestions. I received some very good suggestions (which can be read in this post) and have written on a few of them.

However, in that post, I also promised that I would write on all the suggestions that I received. I received eleven and have only written on four of them.

Pratfalls, Planking and Pain: An Afternoon with the Minors A study of the planking phenomenon and how I broke Taylor's face.

BACON: The Main Reason I am Not a Vegetarian Self-explanatory. I love bacon.

Today's Secret Word: WAR A study suggested by my brother to determine who would win in a fight between Mr. Rogers and Pee Wee Herman

April Fool's - Fun for Some Some of the pranks I have pulled on people over the years

The math teacher in me says that I still have seven left to cover. It has been almost a year since I made that promise. Upon finding this post a few days ago, I decided to complete the list before the end of the summer.

Today, I will tackle the suggestion proposed by Shane Morgan of In Shane's Brain. Shane asked what meal I would choose as my last meal and how I came to that decision.

Shane never addresses or even questions what I have done that would put me in a situation where I would even have to make this type of decision. Has it finally been proven that I may actually be an axe murderer as has been suggested on this blog before? Did I finally snap and choke a second grader while substitute teaching? Did I stab someone in the eye to stop them from dragging their fork across their teeth while eating across from me? Anything is possible.

Why would anyone ever
smoke weed when they
could just mow a lawn?
I would like to think that I was a political prisoner locked up for founding a new political party based upon the common sense logic and wisdom of Hank Hill. The very fact that I would get locked up for something like this further proves the need for this new movement. HANK HILL for President!

Whatever the reason for my incarceration and impending demise, I get to decide what to eat for my final meal. This is a really good question. How do you decide something like that?

Do I spring for the food that I never got to eat because it was so out of reach? This may be the time to sample the poisonous fugu fish since I am about to die anyway. Maybe I should order Korean kimchi or the fruit of the durian. These are foods that I have always been curious about, but have never gotten the opportunity to try. What could be a better time? Despite my curiosity, I don't think I would order any of these since it is my last meal and I would like to know that I will enjoy it. As curious as I may be about these exotic foods and have always wanted to try them, my last meal needs to be a guaranteed pleasure.

I could choose to get a fantastic meal that is usually reserved for very special occasions or times when visiting a nice restaurant with a lot of extra money. I could order lobster and a porterhouse steak cooked medium rare. It would come with a huge baked potato covered in all the toppings I love: butter, bacon (of course), cheese and sour cream. A few other hand-picked sides to fill out the rest of the meal and I would eat like a king. These are foods that I have loved and would certainly enjoy. However, I don't think I would choose this meal either.

It doesn't get better than this.
When I was a kid, my mother would make a pot roast. It was probably the same as pot roasts in other houses. It was a large roast prepared with carrots, potatoes, some onion and a few other ingredients. It was cooked slowly over the course of the day filling the house with a wonderful aroma. I still make this meal today for my daughter and it is wonderful, but the best part was not this meal. It would be even better on the next night and we all knew it.

The next day, my mother would take the left overs and cut them into smaller pieces. She would put the meat and vegetables into a casserole pan and place biscuits over the top. This would be baked until the biscuits were done. When finished, there were a dozen biscuits resting on a pot roast stew goodness that was the best thing a person could ever put into his mouth. That first scoop broke the biscuit seal releasing the first burst of steam and smell of what we were about to eat. Anticipating that first spoonful was a wonderful moment, but it is not just for the food that I am choosing this as my last meal.

In addition to the wonderful food is the memories of my family eating dinner together. This was a practice I grew up with, but have failed miserably in passing on to my children. I may not have appreciated it at the time, but my family ate together almost every night. Over the nightly meal, we talked about our day, argued about chores, told jokes, listened to dad explain life and work and spent a lot of time laughing. A lot of wisdom was passed around at that table. A lot of nonsense was passed around as well, but it was all part of building who we are today.

For my last meal, I want that pot roast and biscuits. I do love that meal, but there is a lot of history that comes along with every bite that I value even more. If for any reason I couldn't have it, then any other meal that brings the same memories will do. I can't think of anything better.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Bird Whisperer Cheats Death on the Interstate

Sorry for the recent silence on here. The last few days have been very busy. Not interesting enough to write about, but busy enough that I haven't had time to both sleep and write. And I enjoy my sleep.

I will not try to recap the last few days, there were a few interesting things that happened. For the last couple of weeks, I have had a shimmy (or shake, I don't know if 'shimmy' is really a word) in the front end of my van. I just made an appointment to have it looked at. In the meantime, I have had Red in this vehicle on a few different occasions.

The monkey from my
shoulder attacked
my tire.
After visiting with a friend, I went out to my van to discover that my tire was flat. Upon changing it, I discovered the problem that had been causing the shake. I had a busted belt under the treads. This caused the shaking and for the tire to be severely imbalanced. I had driven this time bomb on the interstate with my daughter and Red in the van. Luckily, it blew when it was parked. I'm also grateful that the cost to repair this is the price of a new tire and not something mechanically wrong with the vehicle which could cost a few thousand...I exaggerate, of course, but not really.

When I arrived home, I found a visitor in my yard. I have become accustomed to children playing in my yard, but the neighborhood has been much quieter since the neighbor's house was burned down by an unhinged sociopath. The peace has been nice, but the flames did not scare off this little guy.
He hopped up to me when I got out of my car.

I saw him approach right when I stepped into my yard and he let me walk right up to him. I reached out to pick him up and he just watched me do it. Very strange.

After talking with him for a few minutes, he felt better and flew away. The next day there was six worms gift wrapped on my front step. I suspect that means his week is going better than it was before.


This conversation happened in my front yard a few days ago.

Sydney and Christopher
ME: Sydney, why is Christopher crying.

SYDNEY: I accidentally hit him in the head with a bat.

ME: Well, is he okay?

SYDNEY: Yeah, it happens all the time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Need More Hours in the Day

I had a leisurely day planned for today. Physical therapy at 9 a.m. and a graduation to attend tonight at 6. I wanted to mow my yard, do a little house cleaning, some reading and maybe hit the gym. However, it did not turn out that way. I got done with therapy at ten and called Adam to see if he wants to go to the gym with me. He informs me that we just got hired to do a show at a local school that starts at noon. It was the last day of school and after the awards ceremony the school wanted to throw a party for the kids.

I flew home to get changed and we headed out to get the equipment. We get to the school and set up. They had a bouncy house, a jousting ring and obstacle course for the kids. The students ate outside, ran around like mad, danced to our music and requested a bunch of songs that we could never play at a school function.

At this event, I was told of an open house that afternoon at the homeless shelter I have been working with for the last year. After breaking down, I had time to go home, get showered from sweating outside all afternoon and go pick up my daughter before heading back to pick up Adam and go to the shelter.

After shaking a few hands and eating a few brats, we took Adam home to get to the school for the six o' clock graduation. On the drive over, I was explaining to Kirsten how the day had not gone as I had planned and I was looking forward to this graduation being over and getting back home. I was worn out.

The great thing about this graduation was that it was at a small private school. Very small. The high school graduating class consisted of two boys. Between handing out the diplomas, a commencement speech and a little Pomp & Circumstance, we should be back home by 6:30. My unexpected long day was moments away from being over.

When we got there, I noticed that there were an awful lot of people there to watch two kids graduate. I soon learned that there were four graduates, not two. Another kid who had completed the off-campus studies program and would be crossing the stage with these kids he had never met and a 75 year old man who had never graduated high school and started taking classes to get his long awaited diploma. That was actually pretty cool. However, it still seemed like a lot of people for only four graduates.

We took a seat next to a couple that we knew but hadn't really seen in a few years. They had a daughter who was about to turn three and I had never met. She was immediately taken with Kirsten and wanted to sit by us and talk.

Two minutes after meeting me,
she is telling me her life story.
A lot.

She talked and squirmed and crawled under the seats and tried to lick her finger to stick it in Kirsten's ear. Her dad said that at home she has her own version of the Wet Willy. It's called the Butt Willy. I'll leave you to figure out how that works for yourself.

Once the ceremony started, her dad made her sit in his lap. He said it was because he didn't want her to be a nuisance, but I couldn't help but notice it was right after I asked her if she would get in my car if I gave her some candy. For the next few minutes she kept asking me when we could go get the candy.

The principal stepped up to the mike to welcome everyone, said a quick prayer and stated that he would announce the graduates. I checked my clock: 6:07. We would be out of there in no time. After announcing the first name, a 4 foot person approaches the stage.


Apparently, due to the size of the school, they do all the graduations at once. This would take a little longer than I thought. They gave the precious child her diploma and then had several children come to the stage to sing a song. A very loooong and slow song. When it was over, they moved to the 8th grade graduates. There were three in this class. They walked the stage fairly quickly and then brought up the singer to commemorate their achievement.

Here is one of the things about small schools...or any small organization. There is not a large talent pool to pull from. I know that not everyone is good at everything, but when you have 1,200 people to choose from, at least a few will be exceptional at any given talent. When you only have abut 20 people to choose from, you may end up with this:

I understand that she should be commended for having the courage to get up in front of everyone and sing, but courage will only impress people to a degree. Since this song was rather long and I was slowly coming to the realization that I was not getting out of here any time soon, I needed something to entertain myself.

Looking for something to do, I noticed the little girl from earlier staring at me. Every move I made caused her eyes to follow me. So, I turned off the flash to my camera and decided to have some fun.

I stuck out my tongue. She quickly followed suit.

I sucked in my lips and she did the same.

I pushed my nose up like a pig and she pushed hers up as well.

I crossed my eyes and she did this.

We had great fun for several minutes until something she did caused me to laugh.

She did not appreciate it and screamed at me.

I was able to escape her father's detection and played dumb.

That outburst caused her to have to go sit with Grandma.
With my entertainment gone, my attention was shifted back to the stage. The graduating seniors were brought to the stage and given their diplomas. The senior citizen and off-campus student were both recognized and the on campus graduates each addressed the crowd. No mention was made of valedictorian or salutatorian, but when there are only two people, does it really matter?

After their speeches, we were treated to a slide show set to music that chronicled every picture that had ever been taken of each of these boys.

Being a Christian school, it was followed up with a sermon and then finally concluded. This ceremony for one kindergartner, three 8th graders and four seniors (total of 8 people) had taken one hour and 37 minutes. I promptly told Kirsten to say her goodbyes and head to the car.

The principal jumped on stage for a last announcement.

"The families of the graduating seniors have prepared a meal and you are all invited to stay and eat."

Well, that changed everything. The main reason I wanted out of there so fast was to get some food. We fought the crowd to get to the tables in the back. Once sitting, the allure of food and good conversation distracted me. When I rose to leave, over two more hours had passed.

I never did make it to the gym.

read to be read at

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Turf Wars with Bieber Fans

No need to comment
on my white legs.
As I mentioned on Monday, summer is here and I could not be more excited. One of the many activities I have planned for the summer is participating in our church softball league. I know that I have bemoaned my disdain for sports, but I really enjoy this. It not so much about any love for the game. It's a physical activity (which I need) that allows me to hang out with the guys. I haven't played for the last couple of years due to my job and being out of the area for a while, but couldn't wait to join this year. Our first game is next week.

The girl in the center was their power hitter.
We had our second practice on Monday night and I was the first to show up at the field. As I got closer, I began to notice that the people already on the field appeared to just be getting started. It looked like a 10 year old girls' softball team. There were also many parents and a few coaches present with more people showing up as I approached.

This field is behind a public park and can be used by anyone at any time, but I was under the impression that we had reserved the field for our use. Had the park double booked the field? I approached the coach to see what was going on.

She said they had practice on the field from 6 to 7:30. I commented that the park office must have double-booked the field and she quickly apologized. Apparently, they had practiced there the entire summer before and had never had a conflict despite never officially reserving the field. Not being the guy in charge of our team and not wanting to run off a bunch of little girls, I opted to wait for the rest of the team to show up so we could decide what to do.

My first thought
As the guys started to arrive, we spoke with the other coach and she challenged us to a game. She said it would give the girls a bit of a challenge before their first game, we could get our practice and maybe we could help the girls in learning how to field the ball.

We quickly decided that we didn't want our church to be known as the one that broke a child's face with a hard line drive and agreed to practice in the outfield. A similar situation happened a few years ago with an adult women's' team. It ended with our pastor breaking the wrist of their third baseman when she misjudged the ball he hit.

Occasionally, their ball would fly into our area, but we were more worried about our ball taking out one of them. There was one close call, but it all worked out without injury.

I don't know why he was so mad at me.
It was his daughter that couldn't catch a ball.
Realizing this could be a good post for my blog, I instructed Kirsten to get a picture of the girls practicing. She objected because she thought it would be creepy to go take pictures of kids. I explained that I wanted this shot and it would be much less creepy for her, a 16 year old girl, to get the shot than me, a 40 year old man.  She walked over to their area to get the shot, but never lost her nerve. So, I had to be the creepy old guy with the camera. I don't have the stealthy ninja photography skills of Misty at Misty's Laws, so I just raised my camera and took the pictures. I got the shots I wanted and was only cursed at by two sets of parents.

In the end, we all got to practice and they are now educated on how to properly reserve the field for their future practices. Everyone was happy and we didn't have to be shamed by getting beaten by a bunch of little girls. Or shamed because we were the mean old men that beat a bunch of little girls. I believe our forfeit to the outfield was the only winnable option.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm Free

Less than 2 hours ago, I finished my last assignment for the semester. I now have one more semester behind me. I am not taking any summer classes this year, so I AM FREE for the next couple of months.

Because this was my last week of class, I did not make any trips out of town to see Red. As enamored (my daughter's word of choice) as I may be, I did have work I needed to get done. However, now that I am done, first things first. I will be seeing Red tomorrow.

I have many plans for the summer. A year ago, I wrote a post about this same topic. Their are some major differences between last year's post and this one. Last year, I had just completed my last assignment for my entire Bachelor's degree. YAY! This year, I have completed my first year of my Master's.

Last year, I had no idea what I wanted to do once I found myself with all this free time. This year, I don't have that problem. I am looking forward to being able to read books that I want to read. I have lots of travel planned for the summer including time on both the East Coast and West Coast. I have someone that I want to go spend time with. I joined a softball team and I plan to print out my Bucket List from last August to mark off as many as possible before I get busy with school again in the fall.

Kirsten's last day of school is Thursday, so she is busy making her summer plans as well. In June, she is headed to Arecibo, Puerto Rico for a mission trip and will probably spend the rest of the summer working at a summer camp. She has gone there every year for the last three years (since she was 12) to work in the kitchen. It's hard work with 14 hour days, but she loves doing it.

I hope to bring the funny back tomorrow, but wanted to briefly celebrate my new and much anticipated freedom.

What big plans do all of you have for the summer?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day and were able to show your mother how much you appreciate her.  My mother is on a trip to see her mother, so I called her this morning to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.

Knowing that I had no Mother's Day plans after church, I grabbed some of the kids running around and asked about their plans for day today.

My daughter is the one that says she will not be doing anything with her mother today. She did spend time with her mom. I guess she just didn't know she would at the time.




Thursday, May 10, 2012

100th Post - Send Me a Present

This post marks a milestone in my blogging career. Can you call it a career if it doesn't make any money? This is my 100th post. To celebrate, I am posting 100 things about myself that I have never mentioned in my blog before.
  1. First thing about myself: In this list of 100 things, every 10th one is a joke (#10, #20, #30, etc.). As in, not true. The rest are true. I had to do this because I could only think of 90 things. You try thinking of 100 new things. It's not easy.
  2. I still don't have a smartphone My phone makes phone calls and texts. That's it.
  3. I don't trust our government. I am sure there are some good people in politics, but they are overpowered by an evil system.
  4. The stories I write in my blog are true. Even the crazy ones.
  5. I played the saxophone in high school and placed first in the state.
  6. I once played poker with Clint Black.
  7. I have swallowed a live goldfish.
  8. I like cheese and mayonnaise, but the idea of them touching each other disgusts me. If a sandwich contains both, they must be on opposite sides of the sandwich.
  9. My mother tells me that as a child, I called fish zeeps. No one knows why. 
  10. I never say I'm sorry because I don't like to lie.
  11. When I finally get my teaching degree, I plan to teach high school math on a military base.
  12. I once bought a JEEP on eBay and flew to New Jersey to drive it home. I loved that JEEP and I miss it.
  13. I know it is a simple dish, but one of my favorite foods is beef & noodles. Love them.
  14. He's even annoying to look at.
  15. I find Aziz Ansari extremely irritating. I cringe every time he speaks, but I still think he's funny. It must be a self hate thing.
  16. Italian food or not, I am not a fan of Parmesan cheese.
  17. I was VP of a motorcycle club and rode a Harley, but never had a motorcycle license.
  18. I don't like to use public restrooms. I will almost injure myself to make it home rather than use one.
  19. I ate an octopus while it was still alive.
  20. Despite my uber-nerd status in high school, I still dated a cheerleader.
  21. I wrote a book called How to Pick up Girls.   Page 1 says: "Maybe buy a motorcycle? I dunno?" The rest is just pictures of people shrugging. 
  22. I love math. I got a 107 average in Trigonometry, but I have failed Accounting three times.
  23. I chose the name Scout for my future daughter after watching To Kill a Mockingbird in a 7th grade class. Over 10 years later, when she was born, my wife wouldn't go for it and we named her Kirsten. When Kirsten was in the 7th grade they watch the same movie and her classmates said, "Wow! That girl, Scout, looks just like you."
  24. I want to learn to play the piano. Not for fame or fortune. Just to be the guy at parties that everyone is standing around and singing.
  25. If I won the lottery, I would spend some of the money traveling around the world meeting all my blogging friends.
  26. I don't play the lottery.
  27. Sometimes I wish I was an anonymous blogger. I have many stories I would like to tell, but can't because people that know me read my blog.
  28. I will eat anything. ANYTHING. Well, stuff that's already considered food.
  29. My brother Kyle once pushed me off the top of a bridge over some railroad tracks. (Over 30 foot drop)
  30. I got mugged in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  31. Before I die, I want to travel to China to get a tattoo of an English word on my arm.
  32. I called a U.S. Senator a liar while standing in his office in Washington D.C. That was the end of our meeting.
  33. I am nowhere near as cool in real life as I am on the internet.
  34. I can juggle.
  35. "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind
    and won't change the subject."
    Winston Churchill
  36. I am related to Winston Churchill.
  37. I got mono in high school from a girl that turned out to be a carrier, but never got sick. I was the second of three guys she gave it to over the course of two years.
  38. I have spent the night in a hospital one time. I was 2 years old and had pneumonia.
  39. The first time I played golf, I landed on the green with my first stroke on a par 3.
  40. As a teenager, I made my little brother Trevor ride home in the trunk after jumping in a pool because I didn't want him to get my seats wet.
  41. I saw the original Star Wars at a drive in.
  42. I think feminine sanitation jokes are inappropriate. Period.
  43. I signed up for the military, but they rejected me.
  44. One Thanksgiving, I ate the dog scraps that had been scraped off everyone's plates thinking it was a plate prepared for me.
  45. I do not enjoy fishing. It bores me.
  46. My kids never believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.
  47. For a short time in my childhood, we had pigs in the basement.
  48. I once drug Adam West out of a bar and put him in bed.
  49. When I was a kid, we were not allowed to watch Three's Company for obvious reasons, but we watched Benny Hill with our parents every week.
  50. My middle name is Marshall. - Brett Marshall Minor
  51. My daughter's middle name is Marschel, a variation of my middle name.
  52. Sometimes I tell jokes so bad, the crickets don't even chirp.
  53. NYUK   NYUK  NYUK!
    My favorite Stooge is Curly.
  54. I went to the same school for Kindergarten through high school.
  55. No matter how old I get, I want a house with a fireman's pole to slide down.
  56. I had a dream that I met Red's parents. We were in someone's back yard and her parents were swimming in a pool. Her dad wouldn't talk to me.
  57. I was in the Teamsters union for two years against my will.
  58. One of my eyes is near-sighted and the other is far-sighted.
  59. Despite having very little athletic abilities, I can switch hit (bat both right or left handed).
  60. Every year, a few days  after Halloween, I gather a few of the neighborhood children to help me collect the pumpkins on people's porches. We then drive out to the country to throw them off bridges and watch them get smashed. (We don't throw them onto roads. We find a country bridge high enough that they will break when hitting the ground.)
  61. I once got blisters on my lips from eating a Szechuan pepper. I didn't know what it was.
  62. I hate racist jokes. I think they're off-color.
  63. It is difficult to come up with 100 new things.
  64. I am in the process of growing out my hair. I am told by someone daily that I need a haircut.
  65. I hate when someone interrupts me. I usually respond by starting over when it is my turn to speak again.
  66. I have never been to Disneyland or Disney World.
  67. I am currently in graduate school and have a 4.0 average. YAY!!!
  68. I put peanut butter and Nutella on my waffles.
  69. I was once on TV with President Jimmy Carter. They were actually filming him. I had no idea he was there.
  70. I have the power to infuriate anyone within 3 minutes of meeting me.
  71. The best part of a loaf of bread is the heel.
  72. I spent six months trying to figure out how to grow marijuana in Farmville and sell it in Mafia Wars.
  73. It is almost impossible to embarrass me. My mother says it is because I have no shame.
  75. I love the stand up comedy of Emo Philips. "At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote." - Emo Philips
  76. My brother Kyle and I once stripped our youngest brother Trevor naked and tied him to a tree in the front yard. Not a single passing car stopped to help him.
  77. When my son Christian was 7 years old, during hailstorms we would run out into the storm to see who could withstand it the longest before running for shelter.
  78. During late night PBS fundraisers, I like to call the number so I can hear the phone ringing on the TV. I then laugh saying, "That's me." I hang up before anyone answers.
  79. A local radio station used to have a movie trivia question every day at lunch time. I would call right before they asked the question, so the phone would already be ringing when they finished. This ensured I would be the first caller. I won every day for over three weeks. Then they banned me from the contest.
  80. I have a pot in my kitchen that is only to be used for making tea. If anything else gets made in it, my tea doesn't taste right.
  81. I was state certified to sell real estate insurance, but never sold a single policy.
  82. My grandmother made the best grape jelly in the world. This is not up for discussion.
  83. When children shy away, I say, "I don't bite. Not hard anyway!" Then I laugh and bite them hard. They need to understand life's not easy.
  84. My father likes to fish because it is so relaxing. Yet, it was while doing this relaxing activity that he had a heart attack.
  85. Last year, I got out my coats for the winter. When I put one on for the first cold day, I found $500 cash in the pocket. I don't remember putting it in there and think I would remember misplacing 500 bucks.
  86. I had a Neopets account until a year ago.
  87. I have zero fashion sense. Ask anyone.
  88. I was incredibly shy and socially awkward until I was about 15 years old. Something changed almost overnight. I can't explain it.
  89. When I moved here, I was excited to get cable again after being without it for several years. I now have it and never watch it.
  90. I was once hired at minimum wage to train my boss who made over 5 times what I did. As soon as she felt she had learned enough, she fired me and hired her fiance. I don't use her for a reference.
  91. When I worked at the Sheriff's office, I took a 911 call from a woman who complained there were two dogs in the street having a "verbal argument." We didn't respond.
  92. I have had more trouble finding a job after I got my degree than I ever did before. Once I get my Master's, I may be forever unemployed.
  93. I once saw a wino eating grapes and I was like, "Dude, you have to wait."
  94. My dad used to set mousetraps and then call us into the room so he could throw them at our feet. I grew up and had great fun doing it to my kids. I now understand why he did it.
  95. BUD            WEIS           ERRR
  96. I miss the Budweiser frogs.
  97. I grew up in a town so small the post office and local bar were the same place. The next town over had a funeral home/hardware store.
  98. Everyone has little things that irritate them, but if I am eating with someone who bites down on their fork and then pulls it out through their teeth, I have to say something. That sound rapes my brain.
  99. In kindergarten, I had a girlfriend named Crista. She called me when we were in the 7th grade to break up so she could be another guy's girlfriend. I had no idea we had been a couple for the last seven years.
  100. When Aerosmith's song Dude Looks Like a Lady first started playing on the radio, I thought they were saying, "Do the Naked Lady." I figured it was some new dance move I wasn't cool enough to know about.
  101. My friends and I would place bets on who would win the Bud Bowl every year during the Super Bowl.
  102. I have spent over two weeks compiling this list.
  103. I love watermelon, but hate watermelon flavored anything. What moron decided that tastes like watermelon?
  104. I haven't slept for ten days, because that would be too long.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stuntman Training #3 - Creative Uses for Living Room Furniture

I mentioned briefly in previous posts that I used to work with a Halloween Haunted Hayride. So many great (or terrible, depends on how you look at it) things happened during these hayrides that I will never run out of posts to write concerning them. Before I tell this story, let me explain how this hayride works.

Let me 'splain.
No, there is too much.
Let me sum up.
Every year, the local Jaycees host a Haunted Hayride for the public. It is a huge money maker for the yearly Jaycees budget. They pull hay wagons through the woods and actors are set up in various scenes throughout the trail to scare the people who paid money to have their dates jump into their arms or see their children cry. It is great fun. However, the real fun was had by the volunteer actors out in the woods.

The Jaycees organize this event by getting local farmers to provide and drive tractors with wagons to pull people. They man a concession stand and sell tickets. They have guys working security to make sure no one wanders into the woods during this time and they have people monitoring the crowd. These tasks use up all of their manpower, so the scary scenes in the woods are provided by locals who volunteer to participate. About 150 people are in the various scenes scattered throughout the trail.

The locals volunteering to build and maintain a scene are not caring benefactors wanting to give back to the community. They are almost always local 15 to 25 year olds who see this as an opportunity to hang out in the woods dressed in crazy costumes, drink insane amounts of alcohol and act like idiots.

The volunteers are assigned their area and given access to it a week before the hayride. That time is used to build their scene, dig fire pits or do whatever needs to be done to have it completed before the following weekend. I have had a scene with my brothers or friends four different years. It was during one of these weekends that I wrote about setting my brother on fire for the amazement of the customers. However, this story does not involve me.

This was just too much fun.
My youngest brother, Trevor, had a scene with his friends on this particular year. After a weekend of debauchery, extreme drunkenness, running naked through the woods and hitting on girls in neighboring scenes, it was now Sunday and time to clean up their area.

After filling in their fire pit, collecting all the empty beer cans and loading everything into their vehicles, they were left with the old couch they had dragged out there. It had worked great for their scene, but no one wanted it now. It was old and moldy, but they couldn't leave it there. However, the vehicles were full, there was no place to put it and no one wanted to come back once they left.

Pay attention, kids!
Still being legally inebriated after the weekend events, they hatched a plan. They strapped a chain around the ends of the couch and decided to drag it out.

Illinois state law prohibits open alcohol containers inside a moving vehicle, so my brother and his friend Chet decided to ride on the couch, which would allow them to continue to drink. We will overlook the fact that they were all underage and the legality of dragging a couch down the road behind a truck. Give them a break, they had been drinking for three whole days.

Maneuvering out of the wooded area proved to be a challenge, but they eventually reached the road. Once on the road, the coach moved rather smoothly. Since the couch was positioned backwards, Trevor and Chet enjoyed the looks they were getting from passing motorists as they continued down the road unaware that the driver was experimenting with how fast the couch could go before there would be a problem.

Trevor first became aware of their high rate of speed when one of the legs came loose as the truck approached 30 mph. Once the leg came off, sparks started flying from the corner. Trevor and Chet turned around to yell to the driver to slow down. He was either unable to hear them or refused to respond, but he continued to accelerate.  They began to yell louder when they saw the railroad tracks quickly approaching.

Most couches are not equipped
with seat belts
Seconds after the truck passed over the tracks, the back of the couch caught the first track. The road had been smooth up to this point, but this small gap caused the couch to flip.

Trevor and Chet were launched into the air as the tumbling couch came apart beneath them. The fold-out bed inside was exposed and Trevor landed on the springs with a shower of sparks. Chet landed on the road and skidded off into a ditch.

Trevor, knowing that he was moving too fast to escape without injury held on to the quickly disintegrating bed frame while blinded by the sparks flying everywhere. This wild ride continued until the drunken driver attempted a sharp curve causing the coach to swing wide, hit the ditch and break loose from the chain. The final resting place was a mess of wires, springs and shredded upholstery with Trevor entangled in it all.

Once the dust cleared and Trevor was removed from the mess, it was discovered that he only had minor scrapes and bruises, but he was pretty shaken up. Once they found Chet, they drank a beer to celebrate what had just been survived.

For other failed stuntman stories, check out the following links:
Don't Try This at Home
This Is Why My Body Is Falling Apart Today
Stuntman Training #1
Stuntman Training #2 - Playing with Fire

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Can't Get that TALKING HEADS Song Out of my Head

Saturday morning, I woke up excited to start the day since I knew I was going to be seeing Red again. I know we just saw each other on Wednesday, but we can't help it.

I take my shower and log on to Facebook as I do every morning and start scrolling down the Wall to see what has happened since the last time I was online. Being a Saturday morning, there were several people praising the fact that the weekend was here, a few people announcing their Saturday plans, the usual gripers and the obligatory pictures of someone's kid that no one cares about as much as the parents' think they do. However, the post from my next door neighbor did catch my eye.

Luckily, she stated "(not bretts)" so I knew it wasn't my house. I had heard the horrible storm the night before, but wasn't aware of this. I threw on some clothes and stepped outside.

I soon learned that there had been some excitement on my street throughout the night and I had slept through the entire thing. My neighbors had awoken to someone pounding on their door in the middle of the night. The heat from the fire caused their house to be in danger as well. They got out of the house alright, but their home sustained some damage.

Siding melted and cracked one of the windows
Despite the damage they received, they fared much better than the house on the other side.

The house on the left was significantly closer
and had a family of six inside.
The family got out alright and is now staying in a local hotel courtesy of the Red Cross. They lost all their clothing, most of their appliances and several other things.

The present story is that this fire was the result of a domestic dispute which ended with the boyfriend setting fire to her house to "show her."  I don't really know what happened, so I will not go into further details, but this is the general consensus in the neighborhood.

Well, he showed her. And the two families next door.
There was NO peace in this house that night.
Despite the fact that everyone seems to know that this was arson, there does not appear to be sufficient proof, so it looks like he will get away with it. I still do not know the entire story, but the whole thing disgusts me.

Beyond the damage done on my street, people keep asking me how I didn't hear all the commotion going on outside my house. There were fire trucks, police cars and sirens going off. There was an ambulance parked in my driveway. Windows were exploding and the whole street was outside watching.

I keep a fan near where I sleep to drown out noises. I don't want to be woken up by neighborhood kids playing outside my window. It's helpful when my daughter has a sleepover, so I am not kept awake by giggling girls. I've learned that it works a lot better than I ever expected.