Monthly Archives: September 2011

No, you won’t be hearing from me tomorrow.

Even though I’ll be leaving work early, things are going to be busy, busy, busy.

Pick up Patrick from school. Drop him back off at school in time to join the pep band for the homecoming game. Run home, pick up Jenni and the girls. Take the girls to church so they can head off to their confirmation retreat for the weekend. Then head off to the homecoming game…

And somewhere in there I need to feed my people.

With any luck, the rest of the weekend will be relatively low-key, and I know that I need that, just because things have been busy and active lately.

I’m looking forward to seeing Patrick perform as part of the band. And I’m excited to see the girls head off for their first retreat as their confirmation journey. But I am not that thrilled that they’re all happening at the same time. It makes my life complicated…

And it’s all about me, after all.

See you Saturday.

So you saw the picture of Patrick with his Star Scout badge yesterday. He picked up another 5 badges yesterday, including two that he needs for Eagle Scout.

It was cute to watch him yesterday. As his parent, I know him well enough to know he was anxious about the whole thing: excited, nervous, and proud. I’d relayed on what my grandfather had noted to me that none of his grand kids or great grand kids had advanced very far at all in scouting except for Patrick…Well, and Hannah and Zoe, who have stuck with Girl Scouting for a pretty long time, too…But Patrick really took that to heart, and I could tell that what I’d passed on from my grandfather really made him that much prouder of his accomplishment.

But then you think of some of the things that have brought him to that accomplishment:

(Those are from Many Point this past summer)

He’s the Senior Patrol Leader in his troop. So he wanted to be at the ceremony early in order to help set up, and get ready, because for the most part, he was going to run the event. But at 6:30, he was the only scout there. A little bit later, he was still the only scout there. So the leader had him start the ceremony.

I’ve seen this ceremony a few times now. I’ve seen Patrick participate, and I’ve seen him lead it a couple of times now. And I got the sense that this time, he really let it sink in, really felt some of the meaning. And maybe too, he understood what he’s really accomplished, and he’s really taking pride in it. As well he should.

The next step is Life Scout. Then Eagle. I never thought he’d get this far, but maybe that was just me projecting myself onto him. He’s very much his own person, and I really need to keep remembering that. Because he can take remarkably good care of himself when he wants to. And he’s really responsible when he feels like it. And he really deserves everyone’s respect and pride because of all he is. The only thing holding him back right now is that he’s a teenage boy, and teenage boys just like to do things their way.

Which is probably why he danced the robot at the Twins game. But that was probably a contributing factor to my clan getting on the scoreboard at the game:

I know. It’s hard to see. But just to the right of TC Bear is Jenni, then me (taking a picture of the screen), then Patrick, Zoe, and Hannah. Our seats were as close to not being in the stadium as you could get without actually leaving the stadium–we were in the far right hand corner, upper deck, 2/3rds of the way up, so that’s why the picture on the screen is so washed out. I don’t think they had a good enough camera lens to get all the way up there very well.

The Twins won–avoiding, at least for a night, suffering 100 losses in a season. (As it turns out, they won tonight, too, so they’re stuck for the year at 99 losses). We all had a great time–it was the first time at Target Field for the girls, and they enjoyed it:

So we watched the game, ate stadium food for dinner, and generally had a great time at the next-to-last ballgame of the season.


Wow. Almost makes the rest of the week feel anti-climactic.

See you tomorrow.

Sure, there’s a lot more to tonight, but here’s the bright, shining moment…If you’ll pardon the unintentional pun.

More to come later.

See you tomorrow.

It’s funny sometimes the things that get picked up in some of my blog posts.

Last night, I briefly mentioned that tomorrow night we’re going to Patrick’s Court of Honor for Boy Scouts. My grandfather picked up on that and called tonight for more detail. So grandpa, I’ll have photos for you in the next post, but here are some details.

Patrick will advance to the rank of Star Scout tomorrow. It’s two steps shy of Eagle Scout, for those keeping score at home (including myself, because honestly I didn’t realize there were so many scout ranks out there).

I’m very proud of him for this. Honestly, I didn’t think he’d stick with it very long, though that could have been because I didn’t stick with it long at all.

I was a Cub Scout for one year, and I think I couldn’t wait to get done with it. The highlight was doing the pinewood derby, and even at that, my car didn’t do very well. Even then, I wasn’t much for the structured group discipline involved, and I know I never would have been able to face the camping trips.

But Patrick has done it all–multiple pinewood derbies, more camping trips than I can count, and a collection of camping gear that’s pretty impressive for someone who belongs to a family that has never even thought about going camping.

What’s more is that Patrick has stuck with it. And even risen to be a leader in his scout troop–he’s currently Senior Patrol Leader. He’s collected an impressive group of merit badges and has obviously also amassed the accomplishments required to move on from rank to rank.

All of this is not lost on my grandfather–himself a scout leader ages ago. He told me that he was proud of Patrick for sticking with it, and for being the only grandchild or great-grandchild to stick with scouting this long. I’m sure there’s some regret there that none of us in these later generations followed in his or his son’s footsteps, but somehow it all came together again in Patrick.

So a reminder: tomorrow, I probably won’t post. We’ll be at the Court of Honor first, then take off as soon as the ceremony ends. We’ll rush downtown and head to the Twins game, hoping we can help them not lose the 100th game of this season…Take the good with the bad, I guess.

And just because I know I don’t say it enough, Patrick, I’m proud of you.

See you tomorrow.

It’s been a busy weekend, and we’ll just head into a busy week.

There was something going on almost every night last week–granted, not for me, but for Jenni and the kids. But the trickle down is that the schedule gets knocked off and so everyone gets out of their normal rhythm.

Jenni had something going on Saturday morning, and then Patrick and I had the Gopher football game that night. Today was the busy, too, with errands and laundry and the usual Sunday stuff.

Okay, so this coming week doesn’t look as bad, and actually will be more fun, but still…

Tuesday, we all go to Patrick’s Court of Honor for scouts, and then we’ll hustle downtown to arrive slightly late to the Twins game. Shouldn’t be a problem because I think there will only be a crowd of 15 or 20 people there.

Friday gets more interesting again, as the girls head off for their first confirmation retreat, so we won’t see them until Sunday. But then we get to hustle to Patrick’s school for his first performance with the pep band at homecoming.

We’ll see what happens, but Saturday doesn’t have anything scheduled. Yet.

Ah, perchance to dream…

See you tomorrow.

No kids, I am not watching tonight’s edition of the GOP presidential debate. Frankly I think I’d prefer to put my knuckles to an orbital sander.

I am, however, catching some of the tweets about the debate…Both serious and hilarious. And I’m a bit scared to find myself coming to the conclusion that the voice of reason among all of the candidates is: Ron Paul.

(Ron Paul in what we like to call “Jolly Mode.” I think he just told a joke. Or is waving from the parade he’s in. Or his arm is just stuck there permanently.)

What’s that? You don’t know who this guy is? Want to learn more? Sure! I’ll help out there. From his own campaign website (Yes, all quotes are directly from his website. You can dig through it if you wish to find the quotes I’ve lifted, or you can just roll with it and read on here):

Ron Paul was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Gettysburg College and the Duke University School of Medicine, before proudly serving as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force during the 1960s. He and his wife Carol moved to Texas in 1968, where he began his medical practice in Brazoria County. As a specialist in obstetrics/gynecology, Dr. Paul has delivered more than 4,000 babies. He and Carol, who reside in Lake Jackson, Texas, are the proud parents of five children and have 17 grandchildren.

Yes, he’s a doctor. A real, honest-to-God MD, who could contribute to national health care by becoming OB-GYN-in-chief. Seriously, though, this guy is proud of the fact that he’s delivered more than 4,000 babies. That fact is all over his site. It’s like he wants to be known as the placental president or something. Perhaps a bit bothersome, though, is that he set up his practice in Brazoria County…What the hell is a Brazoria? Isn’t that a kind of Dairy Queen location? Dairy Queen Brazorias? Or was that a response to pictures of Sophia Loren (i.e. “What a pair of Brazorias!”)

Sorry…Composure. Serious political discourse…

While serving in Congress during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Paul’s limited-government ideals were not popular in Washington. In 1976, he was one of only four Republican congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan for president.

And look where that got him: still serving in congress to this day and nary a sniff from the Republican National Committee. Of course, we all recall that Reagan managed to have his ass handed to him by Gerald Ford (of all people) in ’76. That’s like getting beaten by the old lady you just helped cross the street.

Let’s see where the man stands on key issues:

  • He has never voted to raise taxes.
  • He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
  • He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
  • He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
  • He has never taken a government-paid junket.
  • He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
  • He voted against the Patriot Act.
  • He voted against regulating the Internet.
  • He voted against the Iraq war.
  • He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
  • He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.

Okay…So he’s got the Republican stuff down pretty good: no on taxes, gun ownership, and…um…the Patriot Act? The Iraq War? What the hell’s wrong with this guy?

He supports the gold standard:

If our money were backed by gold and silver, people couldn’t just sit in some fancy building and push a button to create new money. They would have to engage in honest trade with another party that already has some gold in their possession. Alternatively, they would have to risk their lives and assets to find a suitable spot to build a gold mine, then get dirty and sweaty and actually dig up the gold. Not something I can imagine our “money elves” at the Fed getting down to whenever they feel like playing God with the economy.

I giggle when I hear the term “money elves,” because that’s who works at the Federal Reserve…They’re wonderful little people. Wait. Are they the ones with the rainbows and shamrocks?

Ah, but seriously…So to go to the grocery store and buy the enormous quantities of food my family goes through in a week, I’d have to have gold and/or silver to buy it. And to sell anything or work for anyone, I should first ask my customer or employer if they have the gold on hand to pay me. Or I can go and dig it up…Great.

Sounds sane compared to some of the crazy crap Michele Bachmann spits out on a daily basis.

Some other highlights: he wants to eliminate the income tax completely because he feels it isn’t Constitutional, and is also a Communist plot. But to replace some of the lost income to the national government (he proposes “massive” cuts in federal spending) Paul is in favor of a consumption tax. So if you don’t buy anything, you keep your money and don’t give anything to the government. Somewhere, the Unabomber is smiling at that thought.

He wants to abolish the current financial structure of healthcare and it’s insurance companies and HMOs and government paid programs and replace it with a purely market-driven model where doctors can compete for business through quality and cost. Sounds like a great plan for your next heart bypass! We’ll be watching for the buy one, get one deals for vaccinations, or the frequent buyer program: have ten office visits and get this amazing canvas oxygen tank carrier free!

He uses only one word to discuss his civil liberties stand, and that word is “privacy.” He cites the internet and connected health care records, and the Patriot Act, and claims that individual privacy should be maintained above all else. Hang on…Right next to that multi-paragraph section is the sign-up to get his newsletter…He’s just looking for some personal information from me…I’m sure it’s perfectly safe to give it to him.

The dude’s even figured out global warming:

I try to look at global warming the same way I look at all other serious issues: as objectively and open-minded as possible. There is clear evidence that the temperatures in some parts of the globe are rising, but temperatures are cooling in other parts. The average surface temperature had risen for several decades, but it fell back substantially in the past few years.

So wait…Is it real or not or…? I’m confused. It’s going up, down, sideways?

The question is: how much? Rather than taking a “sky is falling” approach, I think there are common-sense steps we can take to cut emissions and preserve our environment. I am, after all, a conservative and seek to conserve not just American traditions and our Constitution, but our natural resources as well.

We should start by ending subsidies for oil companies. And we should never, ever go to war to protect our perceived oil interests. If oil were allowed to rise to its natural price, there would be tremendous market incentives to find alternate sources of energy. At the same time, I can’t support government “investment” in alternative sources either, for this is not investment at all.

Government cannot invest, it can only redistribute resources. Just look at the mess government created with ethanol. Congress decided that we needed more biofuels, and the best choice was ethanol from corn. So we subsidized corn farmers at the expense of others, and investment in other types of renewables was crowded out.

Now it turns out that corn ethanol is inefficient, and it actually takes more energy to produce the fuel than you get when you burn it. The most efficient ethanol may come from hemp, but hemp production is illegal and there has been little progress on hemp ethanol. And on top of that, corn is now going into our gas tanks instead of onto our tables or feeding our livestock or dairy cows; so food prices have been driven up. This is what happens when we allow government to make choices instead of the market; I hope we avoid those mistakes moving forward.

So there you go: global warming causes hemp ethanol and corn in our gas tanks and government making choices. I’m so glad that’s been cleared up.

And finally, his stand on education:

The Department of Education has given us No Child Left Behind, massive unfunded mandates, indoctrination, and in some cases, forced medication of our children with psychotropic drugs. We should get rid of all of that and get those choices back in the hands of the people.

Yes! Finally! Give ME the right to choose which psychotropic drugs to give to my kids! It’s about damned time that I get to decide these things without the government getting involved!

There you are: Ron Paul, sensible voice of the people, and the only logical choice to lead the Republican party into the 18th century.

Thank you and good night.

See you tomorrow.

I might be an uncool parent now in the eyes of my teenage son, but there is one thing I can do pretty easily and pretty well: make him laugh.

I follow in a long line of stupid joke tellers: my grandfather on my mom’s side, my grandfather on my dad’s side, and my dad. It may even go beyond that, but those are the immediate influences on me. Every simple, cheesy excuse to get a punchline in is always taken. And be they groans or full-on laughs, the response is always worth it. Now my mom certainly has a sense of humor and tells some good jokes, but I think even she’d agree that sometimes things could get lost in translation when she’d share the jokes with us…Come to think of it, that was almost funnier.

My grandpa Newt (my dad’s father) was a story telling comic. His jokes were always wrapped in a story, and they always seemed to be the kind of story that needed to be long and involved, probably so that he could pull you down further into his web so that you’re less prepared for the gag that he had waiting for you there. He’d love to tell stories at dinner or sitting in the living room of his house, and I could remember the kind of odd silence that would fall over the room as he’d start weaving the tale. And then it would finish and he’d sit there and laugh his laugh–a kind of half snicker and half laugh. I realize now thinking about it that there were times that I think he’d laugh just as much at my response as he would to his own story.

But his laugh was always the same, whether he was joking with friends that he’d stop and see during his errands that I’d frequently join him on, or if he was joking with me or Julie or dad. It gives you some comfort that regardless of what it was, it was his honest-to-God laugh.

My grandpa Willie is the character that takes over entire rooms. He’ll greet every person in a crowd, if given a chance, and somehow, amazingly, he’ll always have something to relate to them with and some quick anecdote or joke he can tell. I remember feeling at times like it was impossible to keep up with him, even though I was a kid and he was…well…old. But that’s who he was, and, in fact, still is, even as he’s approaching 90. His jokes are the quick ones, loud ones, the simple short gags that come out of nowhere, need no setup, and just get put in front of you to earn their laugh. I think all of his kids and all of us cousins could all recite the entire catalog of cemetery jokes that would be told every time we’d drive past what to some people is a solemn place. But invariably, somewhere in there, you’d hear him say “a lot of coffin goin’ on in there…” I pretty sure that he’d even said it to me at the funeral of his own mother. And no one would have thought that out of place.

My response to his wit was, seriously, to buy a used book of puns. I think I was 10 or 12, and I pored over it and I think at one time, I’d memorized every single gag in there. To this day, I can’t remember which puns in my head are ones I’ve heard elsewhere or which came from the book.

My dad has the deep, dark, sharp wit that I was blessed with and have cultivated (probably all too well). Add to that his incessant education, and he can come up with some pretty obscure but funny stuff. Which is probably where I get the ability to tell a joke and have my entire family look at me with blank stares.

For a couple of years, dad and I had a sort of bizarre radio show-type comedy routine going as we’d do dishes after dinner. We had regular characters with certain characteristics and schtick about them, but it was very quick, and played off of each other’s riffs, which can be tricky if you can’t keep up. I usually played the straight man, trying to set up dad so that his characters could get off the jokes. Some of it was outlandish. Some was hilarious. Some was probably just plain dumb. Though I do recall the one night when, for whatever insane reason, we decided to perform for my grandma Grace…She either didn’t get it, didn’t like it, or both, because I don’t think she cracked a smile all night.

So it comes full circle, and I think I’m finally passing on some of my bizarre, off-center humor on to my son. He’s getting it and keeping up better now that he’s older. He’s starting to be able to tell some of his own, too. But for now, the best feeling I can get is still just making him laugh very hard.

So thanks to all of my comedy forebearers for at least giving me the gift of being funny. Sometimes.

See you tomorrow.

Is this a sign that I’m getting old, or just that I’ve got too much crap in my head?

Earlier today, I had a great idea for the blog entry. I even wrote the idea down on a Post-It note at work.

I left it there.

I’ve forgotten what that great idea was. And in looking around online, I can’t find anything that I actually want to write about.

Oh sure, there’s the brouhaha over the changes coming to Netflix. And they will hit us somehow, but I’m still waiting to hear back on how it will impact us in terms of the ratings and queues we already have set up. In some limited research that I’ve done this evening, I’ve discovered that at 4 DVDs, we’re in a small minority of customers: most people apparently only have the two DVD plan. But I jumped the gun some time ago and got queues for the kids so that they could get their own movies. We’ll see if that continues for much longer.

Tomorrow’s picture day for the girls. I remember when I was in elementary school that I was generally ambivalent to disinterested in picture day. Though routinely, I’d be handed a free comb by one of the assistants and told to comb my hair. But little did they realize that I could do nothing with it. My hair hung on my head like a blanket.

It’s taken being a parent to appreciate school pictures: for a relatively cheap price (compared to booking a professional photographer), you get decent pictures to hand out to family and friends. But even better is that you later can use them to create the “child growing up flip-book,” a stop-motion study in how your kid has aged and become the taller, louder, more obstinate and less compliant being they are now. If you’re really good, you can actually pinpoint the exact moment in the photos when the change happened.

It seems more complicated now than it was when I was a kid. You get choices of poses, backgrounds, airbrushing. Back “in my day,” you had the choice of plain, or that silly multi-angle-in-one picture shot, which, if nothing else, completely dates the photo to the 1970s.

Hannah and Zoe will go through the usual process tomorrow that they’ve practices now once a year for six years already. But the picture will be missing one thing this year: a uniform. That’ll be weird. Really.

So there you go. I couldn’t think of anything to write about. Sorry it’s short…

See you tomorrow.

First the brief recap of the weekend, then perhaps you’ll appreciate the exhaustion from which this probably shortish post comes.

So, when last I posted (at least the one announcing the hiatus), we were madly cleaning and organizing around the house for this weekend, which was to feature not one, but two parties. The advantages to such an arrangement are very clear: you only have to clean once, and really, a bunch of food prep done for one party could just be used at the next party as well.

The downside is that you don’t seem to think about how hard it is to carry off hosting, cooking, prep, cleaning, etcetera for two parties in 24 hours. Or, more accurately, tiring and busy.

Saturday was the busy day: shopping, getting food ready for Jenni’s party, going to the Gopher football game, and then starting work on Patrick’s birthday cake.

Sunday was lighter, but mostly focused on the eleven guests we had over for Patrick’s family birthday party. And I consider it to be a huge success simply on the weight of his repeated hugs and telling me thank you for a great party. For that to come from a 15-year-old boy is something that carries a great deal of importance, trust me.

But almost better was the fact that he really wanted to help make his own birthday cake. So I give to you a photo of Patrick’s TARDIS birthday cake (for the uninitiated, the TARDIS is a time-travelling vehicle in the British sci-fi series “Doctor Who”):

So now I’m blogging on the weekend, and wishing I didn’t have to go to work in the morning, but there are some things that just can’t be postponed or put off easily. Patrick, I expect, will sleep hard tonight because days like today always tire him out. I know I will, because it was a lot of work for these two days.

But on the upside, the house is still clean.

See you tomorrow.

Okay, I lied, but for good reason.

Needed to post this, as Jenni has some international fame and recognition for using a piece of software to help keep her (and us) more organized. She’s featured on a blog for a software called Evernote. You can read about how she uses it.


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