Monday, August 29, 2011

Are You A Real Man?

First of all there is something wrong with you people. What may have been the worst post I’ve written is quickly closing in on first place for the most read post on my blog.

I can’t even imagine why. People are googling it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in blogging it’s this: When you want traffic on your blog, include zombies.

That’s it.

So anyway, I was thinking earlier today about blogging and trying to come up with ideas of what to write about. I happened to be searching for my wire cutters. I had no intention of cutting any wires. It was then it occurred to me that if a guy could find at least eleven uses for wire cutters he could qualify himself as a real man without actually having to kill anything.

So here we go. Eleven uses for wire cutters:

 1. Trimming fingernails. They work.
 2. Cutting small branches.
 3. Trimming dead vines in the garden.
 4. Trimming bushes.
 5. Boring small holes in wood.
 6. Stabbing small insects. Or anything really, those things are pointy.
 7. Opening Christmas presents. Seriously, have you ever tried to extract seven Disney princesses from a single package? Bombs are easier to disassemble.
 8. Scraping weather sealant.
 9. Door stop. Just cram that sucker into the jamb on the hinge side.
10. Wire strippers. If you’re careful, it can be done.
11. And of course, cutting wires.

So there you have it. Another well thought out eleven point list you can share with your friends. If you are a man and have done these things with wire cutters you can now count yourself as real.

Most of us think we qualify anyway.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

First Homeschool Meetup!

This past Wednesday I took the girls to Huntsville State Park for our first ever Homeschool Group meet-up. We met with the Secular Homeschoolers of Houston and the Hydromoon group. Despite the distance and heat there was a decent turnout. The girls had fun.

It was hot too.

But on the bright side, there was water in the lake!

The drive up there was pretty uneventful except for the major accident on I-45. It’s after 10 am on a Wednesday and there’s a major accident on I-45. Of course there is. It’s I-45. I caught a glimpse of the wreck. I’m not entirely sure somebody didn’t enjoy the last few moments of their life before turning that car over.

Kids, don’t text and drive!


So, we drove to Huntsville. I got some wise-ass comments on Facebook suggesting I take the kids to visit the Texas Sate Penitentiary. But there weren’t any executions scheduled, so….

To the park!

DesCartes might suggest that the 'gators only think they do.
Saw this sign on the way in.

Had me a bit concerned at first, but I wondered if there was any water in the park at all.

After all, didn't half of Texas burn down last year and it pretty much hasn't rained since?

So I chose to ignore the sign and pretend alligators didn't exist at all let alone in the park. I would hope that if they have designated swimming areas efforts would have been made to discourage alligator activity in that area.

Not that I have any idea how that would be done.

No alligators here.
 There was plenty of water in the lake. While it was down compared to years past (as one might expect) there was water.

And being a Wednesday during the school year, damn near completely to ourselves.

Hells yeah!

So few others, it felt a bit like a private resort.

"My feet are wet!"

I'd like to point out right now that there will be no pictures of me in this post.

Mostly it's because I'm the one holding the camera.

And let's face it. I'm not exactly "photogenic". I put it in quotes because when I'm in a photo, it doesn't look good. At all.

And it's not just because it's my unhappy mug in the picture, but because pictures hate me.

What can I say, I make better kids than pics.

Come on in. The water is nice!

Sara was a bit leery at first. But soon warmed up to the idea of swimming in a lake.

Zoey took to it like, well... a fish to water. Most of the people I met that day thought I was there with only one daughter. When she did emerge from the water everyone else must have thought she was some random wild child that belonged to nobody.

She didn't even play with the other kids until someone finally showed up with a girl more her age. Actually, I think she was three years or so older. Didn't matter, Zoey finally found a playmate!

I heard there were cupcakes...?

Wednesday was also special because this was when the group celebrates all summer birthdays.
This was exceptionally special in that Sara had turned FIVE only just the day before. To her, every day is her birthday until she has her party. Which, due to scheduling conflicts, we couldn't muster until September 10.

Today (Saturday) she even said, "Because it's my birthday, I get to pick my snack." It was like 30 minutes after breakfast.

"What?" I said. "It's like 9:00 am. You're not having a snack."

"But it's my birthday." This was the end of the argument. Whatever I had to say after that was irrelevant. 

I have no idea what she's looking at.

It was a happy drive home.
She fell asleep 10 minutes after we left.

Overall, it was a great day. Any day that ends with Sara fast asleep, is a great day.

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's Made of Miracle Whip!

I just read a headline on my newsfeed on my phone. It reads: “Astronomers: We’ve Found A Planet Made Of Diamond

I read the article. And no… they didn’t actually say that.

But still. What if they did? I mean, they could say pretty much anything, right? What could we say, or do, to refute it?

(Reuters)* - Astronomers have spotted an exotic planet that seems to be made of Miracle Whip racing around a tiny star in our galactic backyard.

The new planet is far creamier than any other known so far and consists largely of egg whites and vinegar. Because it is so gross, scientists calculate the mayonnaise must be pickled, so a large part of this strange world will effectively be “yucky”.

"The evolutionary history and amazing density of the planet all suggest it is comprised of carbon -- i.e. a massive glob orbiting a neutron star every two hours in an orbit so tight it would fit inside our own Sun," said Matthew Bailes of Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.

Lying 4,000 light years away, or around an eighth of the way toward the center of the Milky Way from the Earth, the planet is probably the remnant of a once-massive Kraft factory that has lost its license process food.

The measurements suggest the planet, which orbits its star every two hours and 10 minutes, has slightly more mass than Jupiter but is 20 times as odorous, Bailes and colleagues reported in the journal Science on Thursday.

In addition to Miracle Whip, the new planet is also likely to contain salad dressing, which may be more prevalent at the surface and is probably increasingly rare toward the vinegar-rich center.

Its high density suggests the lighter dressings of olive oil and honey mustard, which are the main constituents of dressings at Super Salad, are not present.

*Not a real news story. Believe it or not.

Seriously. Astronomers can say, “We’re scientists. We are ASTRONOMERS. We know what the hell we’re talking about. We a have BILLION dollar telescope. We found another planet that is made of marshmallows. And it’s awesome.”

Astronomy is delicious.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Apology Post

I’m sorry.

Ok. Apparently my world is a little too kooky to share everything.

I promise to never booze and blog at the same time again. Just so you know though, my sober posts aren’t nearly as fun for me.

So here’s a quick look at the past few days. I took the girls to visit their grandparents this weekend. We made it a four day weekend! And why not? Gramma has a pool.

Ahhhh. Country living.
Little Bit likes hanging with Grampa mostly.

Grampa has a nice big shop. He’s been fixing mostly ice machines this summer. He and his buddy were fixing a margarita machine when we got there. I’d have taken a pic, but when those things are apart, they look like the engine part of a lawnmower. It would have taken a practiced eye to see that and say, “Why, that there is a margarita machine!” Sadly, it required a part that had a two week lead time to acquire.

Some things in his shop get used more than others.


Oh. And it was hot. Real hot. Freakin’ hot. I’ve got friends in Austin. This week they are taking a few days to go down to Galveston “to get away from the heat”. How hot does it have to be for people to go to a place that gets to 96°F to get away from the heat?

Sara: "I'm tired of working."

And so this morning I had the kids start on their workbooks. Zoey was so excited she did four modules. At the rate she’s going, I’m gonna hafta brush up on my Algebra.

And for the record, I thought my last post was poignant

Hi. I'm poignant.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

What Do You Mean "Zombies Aren't Real"???

So I’m sitting here… way after midnight… writing random crap and thinking how the internet is SO overrated.

But then, I may be wrong.

After all… zombies wouldn’t have a voice if not for the internet.

Over the past several years their voice (in movies, song and dance) has been, “Hnnnn.”

And now it’s more like, “HNNNNNNNN!”

Well, shit yeah.

Have you not read The Walking Dead? Seen the show on AMC? No? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
Ok, let’s face facts. The zombie apocalypse is not going to happen. Ever.


Well, let’s think about this for a bit.

1.  Zombies are not real (so far)
2.  Internet geeks are not the saviors of mankind. Shit, Jesus barely qualifies and he’s a ZOMBIE!!!
3. Technically. Seriously, you people need to lighten up.
4. This is what happens when you feed me booze and keep me up after midnight.
5. Don’t worry. Sheez. I’m not gonna feed the mogwai, so stop asking.

So there you go. A post full of no worries. My friends down under would be proud. If I had friends there. As it is, I’m not sure I have friends here. Have you seen my team?

Yeah well, I didn’t think so.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not As Sexy As It Sounds

My wife has a small metal sign she’s had since her college days. It says, “No Couples In The Shower.”

Because it's slippery and dangerous

I don’t get it.

We were supposed to be up and ready to go to Gramma & Grampa’s early one Saturday. Instead we overslept because it’s in our genes.

We jumped out of bed like we had a test or something. I fed the girls while Stephanie took a shower. Well, she’d been in there a while and the girls were getting dressed and dammit, I needed a shower too. So I figured she’s got to be done soon, so I’ll just jump in there and get to washing my hair. Right?

Ooh la la!

Well, sexy as it sounds… yeah we’re naked. Hells yeah! Here’s what she says to me, us nekkid and all wet and stuff… “Hey. You’ve got a zit on your back. Lemme pop it!”

So she, with those harpy claws she calls finger nails squeezed a zit on my back.


Ooh la la indeed.

Nothing to see here. Move along. This isn't even my bathroom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Here we go. This post is a result of a plea for ideas from my Facebook friends. It was a plea! I was dry. No ideas. I asked to be challenged.

The results I got were… weak.

Almost immediately I got the response, “Vaginal itch.”

To be honest, it had never bothered me.

Then I was asked, “Who would be the actors playing all the main characters in the story of your life.” I mistook this to mean who the people in my life were that appear as characters in the stories I tell. As I consider myself the only main character, I promptly replied, “I'm the main character. The rest of you people are secondary. Perfect for teaching lessons, saying funny things and dying horrifically.” The intent was to select actual paid actors that might portray myself and the horrifically dead. My bad. I guess if I were hiding the fact I studied Shakespeare in college, the secret’s out now.

“Three Leaves and a June Bug.” This one was almost too awesome to include. Ever have one of those inside stories that’s just too freakin’ good you don’t want to share it? The actual details are boring, but needless to say it involved a lot of drinking, hanging out at the pool after 2:00 am, and the kind of conversation where everything was deep and serious. It was totally gonna be our band’s name in the event we learned to sing and/or play instruments. “There is a time and a place for everything; and it’s called college”. – Chef.

The messages back and forth included a warning to not google “blue waffle”. Someone did not heed my warning. I mention this only because this is how the Facebook conversation went. DO NOT LOOK FOR IT. DO NOT GOOGLE IT. Now you too have been warned.

Other suggestions included how my wife and I met, why cats always sniff your finger, and the most tragic day in my life.

The answers to those three are quickly now: On a bus rigged to explode if it’s speed dropped below 50 mph; because it’s not about the finger, but where it’s been; IT WAS FIVE GALLONS OF BEER! *PSH* the carboy EXPLODED and all my preciousness spilled out onto the kitchen floor. This happened nine years ago. I’m still seeing a therapist.

The winner is Cindy Collins for her suggestion of, “Cleaning chinchilla cages.”

My very first job, at age 14, was cleaning chinchilla cages for a lady whose day job was as a high school counselor in Killeen, TX. This was in 1988-ish. I haven’t the slightest idea how I came to this job except that I wanted one, I needed one, and my Dad took me there and picked me up.

This lady kept two buildings on her property with about 250 chinchillas, each in their own cage. The place was kept at a chilly 60° and absolutely reeked of urine. Every Saturday we cleaned cage after cage after cage. New pine shavings. New buckets of ash. DON’T LET THEM ESCAPE!

For those that didn’t feel like clicking the link, chinchillas are bred & kept for their fur. Very soft. You know those winter jackets that have fur around the hoods? Yup.

The funny thing about these South American mountain rats is that they have an escape tactic. If you try and grab them, they jump out of their fur. Literally. You try and get the little sucker and *poof* you are left holding a handful of fur. Like those lizards that drop their tails. My boss didn’t like it when they tried to escape. Only one ever got away from me.

Well, eventually; after week after week after week of cleaning cages it came time to harvest. My boss had this special stand built with jumper cables and clamps. That’s right, they got “the chair”.

One day, after cleaning all the cages it was time to collect the pelts. We’re frying them one after another when, on the radio, comes my bosses’ favorite song. She literally stopped in the middle of electrocuting a chinchilla to turn up the radio and stood there holding the volume knob.

She’s jamming to, “In your life expect some trouble, But when you worry, You make it double...” meanwhile a chinchilla, firmly clasped in its bonds, waited for the governor to call.

I stood there and debated the pros and cons of switching places with the critter.

Eventually both the song and the chinchilla met their end. And so went Bobby McFerrin’s career too. I can’t help but wonder if I had something to do with it.

So… don’t worry! Be HAPPY!

Go. To. Hell.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Zombie Apocalypse Team... ASSEMBLE!!!

There’s a new game on Facebook now that’s intensely zombie-ish.

The rules are:

Go to your Profile, look to the left, the first six friends are your Zombie Apocalypse team.



I’m screwed.

Sidekick: David Cardenal. This is ass backwards. It’s more like I’m his sidekick.

Heavy Weapons: Kenneth Morrison. Sorry dude, but the heaviest weapon I’ve seen you carry is a coronet. I’m willing to bet you’ve wielded something heavier since then, but I worry that it is a hockey stick.

The Idiot That Survives: Jennifer Dipboye. I so DID NOT PICK THE ORDER. Be thankful you survived.  I’d like to point out right now that I’m also watching My Little Pony while writing this.

The Sniper: Cindy Collins. This I’ll allow. As a matter of fact, I’d say it’s a given.

The One That Loses It: Matt Jensen. Again, I did not pick the order. However, of all the people I know, you are the most prepared for the event. Those type of people lose it first.

The Brains: Courtney DeMarr Brown. You make awesome meatballs. But can I rely on you to coordinate a zombie apocalypse team? KILL PEOPLE THAT ARE ALREADY DEAD? I worry.

Man… I need better material.
Seems obvious to me...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sorta Fired

OK. Fine. You people win. “When are you gonna post again?”



Here is the story about the time I was “sorta” fired.

"My tie is too red and too tight"
I’ve told it many ways, on different days, and nothing else rhymes. So here it is, me getting fired nicely.
It was March 2001. Some friends and us (my wife and I) decided we really needed to be in Australia. It sounded like a really good idea. We looked into it. So did our friends. We all looked into it. It looked to be awesome. So full of awesome we hired an agent. She said it would be awesome too.

She said, “It’s gonna be awesome.”

We couldn’t find a single reason why not.

So I put in a request at work for a week in November for vacation. It was mine to request so I requested it.

I worked for a propane distribution company. Ferrell North America. It was the commercial division of Ferrellgas. Now, the division, as a whole, was mostly a trading company.  This was weird because 90% of the 27th floor of Allen Center One was devoted to transporting propane to the retail centers in… well… North America. But 10% (which was two guys and 6 monitors whispering “sell” or “buy”) that really ran the division.

All things being as they were… it was a business and Dude Ferrell ran it as such. He bore an uncanny resemblance to Clayton Williams. I never knew the guy. I met him once. I didn’t care seeing as how he spent the minimum amount of time in Texas to qualify as a resident to avoid certain taxes. Whatever. Texas is awesome, so the time he spent here had to have been worth it.

Now, when it comes to propane, the fall and winter months are pretty important. We were planning a vacation in November. Me? I wasn’t in distribution. I was administration. I kept track of gas cards and drug testing. And due to an unexpected absence in South East USA, I also ran distribution in Georgia and Florida. I got a raise for that.

Back to March. I requested my time in November off. I was told, “It shouldn’t be a problem, but I just don’t know. Get back with me in August.”

Five months. This was ok, because according to our travel agent we had 100% money back guarantee if we cancelled by the last week of August.  So we made our payment and waited for August.

I requested again the first week of August. I got no comment on e-mail… so I went in person. “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

The second week of August, I sent another e-mail. No response. I went in person, “Shouldn’t be a problem.”

Last week of August, I sent another e-mail. NO RESPONSE. I went in person. “Listen… I have $2,000 tied up in this vacation so far. I lose it if I don’t cancel NOW. Do I get my time off or not!?”

“Shouldn’t be a problem.”

I take this as a “GO”.

September 10 arrives.

“Eric… we need to talk. Are you available for a 3pm?” My manager won’t look me in the eye.


Well, 3pm came and went. WTF? “Sorry, something came up. How about tomorrow?”

Sure. I’m available. I had absolutely nothing going on September 11, 2001. I’ll have you know, that I was the only person to shout, “FUCK ME, THEY HIT THE SECOND TOWER!!!” that very morning. At least on my floor. It may have been mentioned elsewhere…

Nobody believed me. They said, “They’re showing it again?!” Right, like CNN caught the first tower strike and waited to replay while somehow the other tower caught fire.

Twenty minutes later we evacuated downtown Houston.

Well… the evacuation began. Our boss saw the writing on the wall and sent us all home. However, by that time of day the busses were running on an hour long loop. I fortunately scored a ride with somebody with a car and got out quickly. Thus went my first evacuation of Houston. I’ve only had to live through two others.


September 12, 2001. “Eric, we’ve looked at the schedule and we don’t think we can do without you for a week in November.”

“Really? You’ve had six months to let me know and now I’m out $2,000? Never mind. My last day will be November 12.” I felt so empowered.

The very next day my manager and her manager pulled me into a tiny little conference room.

“We’re sorry, but after recent events we’ve decided to let you go two weeks from now.”

“Really? Am I being fired?” I almost laughed.

“Not unless you want to be…”

I really couldn’t see how that benefitted me.

“We’ll accept your two weeks’ notice affective today.” My manager’s manager wouldn’t even look me in the eye! My manager was pretty interested in her fingernails.

“Well, you can take this job and take turns SHOVING IT UP YOUR ASSES!” I said in my mind with a perfect poker face.

“Ok.” I said out loud.

What happened to “can’t do without you”?

This place is AWESOME.
So I took a few weeks off! Then I went to Australia! Stephanie hugged not one, but TWO koalas! We toured the Castlemaine Brewery, of course! Sydney, Brisbane and Carnes. It was absolutely beautiful. It was AWESOME.

And somehow I found myself employed when I got back. Now that’s a story in and of itself… for another time.