Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dealing with Reality

Well, I sit here on a Sunday with another fall in shambles before it even gets started. The intent of this post isn’t to break down the details of yesterday’s gut punch 41-34 loss by my alma mater Mississippi State to Auburn. I’ll leave the analysis of the coaching, officiating, and players to the washed up coaches in the employ of ESPN and the message board lunatics. No, this is just the means of catharsis I am employing to handle the annual realization that Mississippi State football is forever doomed. As my wife said this morning after assessing the somber look on my face, “I just don’t think Mississippi State is ever going to be the program you want it to be.” To which I calmly responded with something along the lines of…

That’s a tough pill to swallow just one day removed from watching the wheels come off your team’s season for another year, even tougher when it all went down at Auburn. As a quick aside, they wasted no time in retiring Cam Newton’s number and slapping his smiling face up in the end zone of their stadium. It’s a nice reminder of the unseemly side of college football, which has come bubbling up to the surface in recent months. Watching your quarterback rifle a line drive pass into double coverage, then watching that pass bounce off a defender’s helmet into the arms of another Auburn defender who returns it for a touchdown, then looking up and seeing Cam Newton smiling back at you from the far end zone is just more than any person should have to confront.

Still, there’s something to be said for staring reality squarely in the face, though it is certainly not the only approach to overcoming disappointment. Shortly after my wife summed up the sad truth that Mississippi State football is mediocrity defined (at best), I found myself aimlessly wandering past the television in our living room. The great Joel Osteen was on, with his giant grin and strangely coiffured hair. Joel Osteen is clearly no fan of a beleaguered football program, unless his coping powers are considerably stronger than mine. He stood in front of the strange gold globe that serves as his backdrop and said “Think yourself happy, think yourself peaceful.”

Perhaps that IS the ticket, Joel. I’m happy and peaceful. I don’t need my fall to be defined by the anticipation of momentous football games with all the angst and emotion they entail. No sir, I can find peace and happiness as I did this fine Sunday afternoon, picking up endless piles of dog poo in my back yard and meticulously edging the dying grass in my front yard while trying not to break my wrist when the edger veers a bit too close to the driveway and sends sparks flying and a jolt through my wrist.

And I’m just scratching the surface of the many avenues other than college football available to me (and you, should you find yourself in similar straits two weeks into the season). Perhaps I'll look into scrapbooking or cooking classes. Or maybe I'll just have someone blindside me in the face with the Yellow Pages.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Crazy Days of August

It has been unbridled craziness here this weekend. Friday night I actually stayed up until 11pm, making it 45 minutes into a 55 minute documentary revolving around the discovery of a sunken pirate ship. Sadly, I succumbed to sleep and crashed on the couch before finding out the specifics of the techniques they were using to clean off the cannons. Still, it was a riveting evening. Then, fresh off the high of that wild experience, I walked into Kroger yesterday afternoon and came relatively close to buying one of their trays of sushi. Sushi…from Kroger! Talk about living on the edge. Ultimately, I found the risk greater than the reward and held off, but still. There’s something in the air I tell you!

"It can take years to meticulously clean the corrosion off of the sunken cannons..."

Perhaps my need for these edgy thrills comes from the lack of entertaining sports in my life at the moment. Consider the fact that in the past week I have learned the following:

1) There were over 40,000 people in attendance at a Little League World Series game.

2) Kris Jenner, matriarch of the Kardashian clan, recently got a $50,000 facelift in advance of daughter Kim’s wedding.

How do I know these things? Have I been watching E! and hanging out on youth baseball websites? Perhaps so, but that is beside the point. No, I came across these factoids while watching ESPN News and listening to sports talk radio. When ESPN and the talking heads on AM sports radio are covering topics such as these, you know times are tough.

Look, I know that football doesn’t start for another week and Major League Baseball is of declining interest to us as a sports-watching nation. But I really must ask that the Little League coverage on ESPN go away. Not only are they broadcasting the games, but “highlights” from these contests are finding their way into ESPN plays of the day. Here’s a good rule of thumb- if the game in question has a mercy rule that’s employed if one team is up by too large a margin, it doesn’t need to be televised or covered.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for kids sports. If my daughter wants to play little league softball or basketball, I'll be plenty pumped and into it. I’ll probably be the guy on YouTube sucker punching a referee for making a bad call against my daughter. But I like to think that even then I will grasp the concept that no one outside of friends and family will have an interest in the outcome of these games. It’s kids! Playing on a miniature field! I assume some people must be interested, because I know ESPN is nothing if not genius about maximizing their viewership. But this one is baffling to me. I knew it was a bad sign when I was actually relieved and somewhat interested when they cut from Little League coverage to back-to-back detailed segments on NASCAR and soccer.

But rest easy, weary friends. We are just one week away from Labor Day, the return of football, and indeed the return of normalcy to our lives. Until then, we'll just have to look for entertainment where we can find it. I believe I did see that there was also a documentary about a ventriloquists' convention, so there's always that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Extreme Couponing

So here’s an interesting fact of which some of you may not be aware- turns out that having a baby in your care eats up quite a bit of your free time. As in, like, all of it. Don’t worry, though, I just got done lecturing my eight week old daughter about her monopolization of my time, and I’m fairly certain we made some nice headway. Granted, the conversation ended with her drooling out a large quantity of breast milk onto my shoulder, but it seemed like she got the message.

Anyway, one consequence of having a baby is a notable ramp up in the desire to find cheap deals. It sickens me to say that I watched nearly half of an episode of Extreme Couponing recently on TLC. Now I can take some solace in the fact that I didn’t seek out the show. My wife left the TV on the TLC channel, perhaps after taking in the latest riveting episode of Toddlers & Tiaras. Either way, I didn’t make a mad dash for the nearest sports channel. No, I sat there watching a rather pitiable Midwestern woman clean out a store’s laundry detergent and Ramen noodles supply for something on the order of four dollars. They then showed her returning home to unload her haul in the overflowing stock room of her house. It was pitiful, and yet…a part of me was intrigued. How do these extreme couponers ply their trade with such magical frugality?

I put it out of my mind until I was at the grocery store last week and got behind a real live extreme couponer! This lady’s efforts were much more pedestrian than the mammoth shopping sprees shown on the TLC show, but nonetheless she managed to pocket roughly 30 large tubes of toothpaste and a similar quantity of bars of soap for less than one dollar. My anger towards her was palpable for two reasons. First, she pulled her routine directly in front of me in the express checkout lane. 15 items or less! Stingy cheapskate hoarders expressly forbidden!

Note to extreme couponers- the express lane is based on the number of items in your cart, not the number for which you are actually paying.

Second, as I watched her savings pile up and her amount owed to Kroger drop coupon by slowly-swiped coupon, I’m not ashamed to admit a bit of envy crept into my mind. By the time I completed my transaction, I was flat out depressed. She even had the nerve to turn around to me and the cashier as she victoriously departed and inform us that the purchase was for charity, intent on robbing us of the one thing we got out of the whole fiasco- seething bitterness toward her and her $0.49 purchase. As the cashier processed my items and my Kroger plus card savings were tallied, I confided in the cashier that I was a little embarrassed at my meager savings compared to the coupon lady. “No, no, four dollars in savings is still good”, she kindly replied. I did my best to express my gratitude for her pity, headed for the exit, and mustered up the moral clarity not to sideswipe the lady's car with my cart as I made my way through the parking lot. Maturity is difficult but, I guess, rewarding.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Blog Absence

Hello? Is anyone out there? My sincere apologies for my recent sabbatical from posting. It's frustrating, because I was on a bit of a roll. I had managed multiple posts in a single week twice in a row! Add to that the stories from my personal life that were coming my way fast and furious, and Sic Transit Gloria was on fire.

Unfortunately, things took an unfortunate turn here at blog headquarters when my home's basement completely flooded last week. It was an odious mix of water and mud that came washing in from our storage room and covered the entirety of our basement. Unlike the Biblical flood in Noah's day, this one did not last for forty days and forty nights. Of course Noah didn't have access to contractors who, for a hefty sum of cash, will storm your basement with 15 or so industrial sized fans and dehumidifiers.

So the basement is dry, but I've spent the better part of the past week dealing with the aftermath of the whole event. Between the guys who got the water and mud out and the drainage specialists and soil engineers, my time and energies have been devoted to addressing this whole fiasco. Frankly, I haven't been in the right mindset for the jackassery this blog has come to represent. This space is better suited for complaints about the British Open or the noxiousness of tartar sauce than for the honest to God frustration of last week.

But enough. It's time for a rally! This video is dedicated to me, because I need it and because I say so.

If Daniel Larusso can conquer the All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, then I can conquer a flooded basement AND keep the blog posts coming!

So stick with the blog. I will battle through the challenges of raising a newborn and keeping my house standing, and you will keep searching for pictures of Brigitte Nielsen (the source of roughly 60% of this blog's traffic ever since The Murls contributed this guest post) and perhaps we will all get a little something out of it.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Losing My Mind

Whoooo!!! It has been an interesting couple of weeks here at the house. Special thanks to The Murls for the recent guest post. Our daughter is four weeks old now, and needless to say we do not have the whole thing figured out. My wife ordered a book last night that she feels certain holds the key to newborn peace and tranquility. Given the small library on the topic of how to properly raise a newborn that has taken root in our house, it’s hard to imagine this new book offering up any heretofore undiscovered wisdom, but we must hold out hope.

The days seem to follow a similar routine. You awaken and lay eyes on your beautiful daughter and thank God above for this gift he’s granted you. Then the day wears on, and things head downhill. And then you find yourself, seated at the computer in the dark of night, looking for black market baby auction services. Uhhh, just kidding…but if you know of such a thing…The biggest downside to the whole thing is that our brain functionality has been cut by somewhere in the neighborhood of 70%. A few days ago I watched my wife drop no less than four things over an impressive five minute stretch.

Meanwhile I’ve been far worse than her. A couple of weeks ago I headed to Target in search of a scale to replace our old one. I wheeled into a nice parking space, turned off the car, and prepared for my quick mission into Target. It was at that point I attempted to hop out of the car, only to be mercilessly jerked back inside by the seat belt I had failed to unbuckle. Still reeling from that episode, I wandered into Target and proceeded to be mesmerized by the various offerings. I wandered up to the checkout with Archer Farms mushroom risotto, Diet Mountain Dew, and about five other items. Only when I was unloading my purchases back at the house did I realize that none of the items I was removing from the bags and putting in the pantry was a bathroom scale, my only reason for going to Target in the first place.

I wish I could say that was my only recent mental lapse, but unfortunately that is not the case. I’ve always had a bad habit of piling my in-between clothes (these are items that are not freshly washed but can, in my opinion, endure another wear before being relegated to the laundry basket for washing) on a table in our closet. Recently I noticed that a shirt near the top of this pile had a faint odor to it. Being the responsible adult that I am, I moved it from the in-between pile in the closet to the laundry basket without another thought. Actually, I momentarily thought it might be the smell of bat pee, but decided against that theory. A few days later on a Saturday I grabbed a pair of shorts from the pile for wear in the course of my errands. While sitting at Great Clips that afternoon, I noticed that these shorts possessed a smell similar to that of the shirt, but an even more virulent version. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it seemed like maybe something garlicy. Either way, I hoped that the lady cutting my hair was far enough away from my shorts region not to notice. I returned home and went about my errands, increasingly bothered by the smell. Finally, I checked in with my wife to see if she thought they smelled. She told me in no uncertain terms that yes indeed they did smell. So I changed shorts and thought no more of it until I got a call at work from her a couple of days later.

“Ummm, do you remember how your shorts smelled horrible on Saturday?”

“Sure, why?”

“Because I just got done washing them and they had a Ziploc bag filled with dog poo in the pocket!”

“Oh, uhh, yeah that would probably explain it.”

Apparently about a week earlier while walking the dogs I had jammed a bag of poo into the lower pocket of my shorts and then completely forgot about it. There’s a feature you don’t see listed in cargo shorts ads!

Shorts have 10 inch inseam, zip fly, and two lower pockets into which you can cram dog poo on walks (note that dog poo should be removed from cargo shorts at end of walk)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Say What? Some Overdue Complaining

***Post by Murls

Well, while the world hasn't been banging down the door for a new post from this guy, I figured I'd give Craig a break and let him tend to his newborn daughter, his winged rats, and whatever else he does for kicks. Perhaps it's time to get back to the basics and do exactly what the subtitle of this blog promises - complain. I'd like to touch on the topic of language, aka, the stuff we say. I won't go after the obvious ones like our common misuse of the terms "ironic" or "literally" (mainly because I'm no English professor either) . . . instead I'll just point out a few phrases I hear often that I would like to see eradicated from the planet.

Disclaimer: I'm a bit of a half-ass curmudgeon in the sense that I ultimately believe in "to each his own", so if you do happen to use any of the following phrases, I promise I won't kick your dog:

1. "It Is What It Is": - now, had you asked me two years ago how I felt about this phrase, I would have told you that anyone who utters it should be forced to, well, watch me kick their dog. I have tempered my stance on this one a bit only because: a) it's wearing me down and every once in a while it's use actually has a sliver of meaning to me, and b) it is old enough now that nobody using it has that smug tone of "I am the most laid back person on the planet, hear me roar", which was certainly intertwined with its initial usage as it became popular among those getting tired of flashing the "it's all good" badge around town. So anyway, here's the overall problem . . . it means NOTHING!!! Just look at the phrase itself . . . it means . . . nothing. Biggest waste of oxygen in the history of our great civilization, other than when I tell people I only smoke cigarettes when I drink. That blue shirt is a blue shirt. Thanks.

2. "We are building a house" (past tense "We built a house"): To be fair, I am less enraged by this phrase than I am truly confused as to how it became so accepted in our culture, seemingly without any scrutiny. I remember as a youngster I would talk with adults that would casually state "I'm building a house", and my thoughts would immediately turn to "whoa, this guy's a badass" and then "I wonder how this dermatologist finds time to build a frigging house". Then I slowly realized that what this phrase really meant was that these people were simply "ordering" a house. You found some land, or maybe a real estate agent found it for you, and then you promised someone money in return for them building you a house. Hmm, sounds familiar . . . oh, I know why, cuz it sounds like every other transaction in the history of commerce! Just because you and your wife spent 3 weeks trying to decide whether the backyard should have a patio or a deck does not mean you "built" the house. So taking the easy joke here, I guess you also "removed" your appendix last year, or had the following conversation at a party: "My wife and I are building a fantastic SUV. It's coming along beautifully, and we're putting cherry maple in around the stereo."

"You did what, nancyboy?"

My suggestion: innocuously replace with "we are having a house built". Then we can be friends.

3. "Regular Coke is too sweet": I hear this one all the time and it's never quite sat well with me. I would propose that no human has ever tried Diet Coke and liked it in an organic sense - it's always affected by that person's desire to cut calories, etc. Most people train themselves to like the vile stuff, and for this I applaud them. Honestly. They have more willpower than I ever will, because I can't even do consecutive sips. Every once in a while a waiter will mix up the glasses and I'll accidentally go tearing into a straw-full, and at that moment my entire life flashes before mine eyes. And then there's the aftertaste. In other words, if John Pemberton invented Diet Coke in 1886 instead of regular Coca Cola, ol' Mr. Pemberton would have spent the rest of his life living in a cardboard box.

So here's where this gets tricky - there's just something about regular Coke being "too sweet" that carries a purist tone to it, much like someone who has removed all televisions from their house carrying on about how much better their life is. First, Diet Coke is hardly a minimalist's dream - there's enough artificial sweetener crap in there to make a slice of grapefruit consumable, so let's not get too proud of our newly matured palates. Second, you once liked regular Coke!!! That's what started this!!! Again, it's impressive that you taught yourself to enjoy the taste of artificial sweeteners more than good old high fructose corn syrup, but that is all that's happened here. Jared disciplined himself to lose 4,000 lbs. eating dry Subway sandwiches - surely he hasn't all of a sudden decided that a Big Mac tastes like ass.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Important Warning for Users of Baby Monitors

Before this post goes any further, I want to get it on the record that I know the topic I'm about to cover has been more than fully addressed over the years and is fodder for lame comedy. Still, with as many warning labels as I've come across over the years, this one still just completely floored me. Also, I'm a new dad with limited time on my hands trying to keep my throngs of readers satiated, so work with me here.

Anyway, this past weekend I decided to go ahead and attempt to set up the video monitor for the nursery. I took it out of the box and noticed the sticker at the bottom left instructing me to remove the larger sticker with the picture of the generic baby from the screen before attempting to use the monitor.

That is fantastic. I can just picture it now:

"Hey hon, can you check the monitor and make sure our baby is okay?"

"Hang on...yep, looks like he's sleeping just fine."

"Oh, that's great."

"You know, it is weird, though, he's wearing a yellow outfit now instead of the red one we put him in."

Wife walking over and looking at the monitor: "That is weird, plus, didn't he used to be Asian?"

Honestly, I know we've lost our intellectual edge as a country and have been passed in scholastic aptitude by many a hungry and studious nation, but has it really come to this? Oh, and to any parents who actually needed this warning, just a heads up that when you buy picture frames the picture that is already in there is not actually of your family and friends.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Where in the stages of lame does attempting to play online chess fall? My sense is that it’s pretty high on the scale. And yes, I did attempt to play chess online recently. The most depressing part? I couldn’t even gain any acceptance among the subset of the population hanging out in Yahoo! chess rooms this evening. My first would-be competitor booted me off of his virtual table. I had tried to join an intermediate level game, but I guess the guy thought me too lowly for competition, what with my 0-0 chess record on the site. I suppose he is unaware of my brief stint on the chess team in seventh grade, or he would have accorded me more respect.

Fresh off that humbling episode, I entered the beginner room area. I joined one game and waited five minutes for the other person who had entered to play to press Start. No luck, so I exited and joined another game. There I waited, and waited some more. Finally, he messaged an apology. It was something to the effect of “Sorry, I have people over and got distracted.” Then he exited the game before it even began. When you get rejected twice on Yahoo! chess, once for lack of an adequate chess resume, and once because the other guy has social activities going on that don’t allow him time to placate your game request, it’s a bit humiliating. Perhaps the backgammon room is more inclusive.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Wells Fargo ATMs

One last quick anecdote from the hospital. By the third day in the hospital my appearance and smell was much closer to that of a homeless vagrant you might find attempting to sell you a newspaper downtown than the newly inspired proud father I had become. A trip home for a lengthy shower and shave (I neglected to pack shaving gear) was in order. Going home also had the added benefit of shielding my wife from the prison-worthy lunch offering the hospital would be serving her, so it was a win-win.

For some reason, the parking deck at Northside is cash only. So I swung by the Wells Fargo ATM in the atrium to get some walking around money to pay the attendant. The welcome screen on the ATM was just baffling to me. It was something along the lines of "Tell us about your ATM experience on Twitter @Wells Fargo!". Am I missing something? What kind of an experience could you possibly have at an ATM that would warrant comment on Twitter?

"@Wells Fargo, just requested and successfully received $40 out of your ATM at Northside Hospital. Thanks!"

"@Wells Fargo, thanks for the awesome stamps your machine on N Highland Rd dispenses."

The only noteworthy ATM experiences that come to mind are probably not what they're looking for.

"@Wells Fargo, just got pistol whipped at your Piedmont Rd ATM. Lost $200, my GPS, and a 12-pack of Budweiser out of my back seat."

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, it doesn't look like Wells Fargo has the whole social media thing down yet. They seem to scour Twitter and link to everyone who mentioned them. They might want to take a minute to scan those folks Twitter feeds. Look at the post I highlighted with the area. Good to know! (You have to click on the print screen image. ***Warning: R rated language, though I did block the word in question out.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Birth and a Personal Accomplishment

It has been just over a week now since my daughter was born. Before I continue with my snarky observations, I should first express my thanks to Northside Hospital. The place clearly has the art of bringing babies into the world down to a science, and every single person we worked with there had a great personality and seemed truly sympathetic to what you’re going through. In the back of your mind you know they’re working their way down the baby assembly line there, and that your daughter is one of probably 20 kids they will personally help deliver that week. Still, they in no way give off that kind of a vibe, and my wife and I were truly appreciative.

I’ll skip most of the specifics of the three nights spent in the hospital. There was a little bit of sleeping the first night, interrupted every 15 minutes or so by the very un-soothing sounds emanating from the trucks at the hospital loading docks, located conveniently right outside our window. Our daughter came early the next afternoon, and we got even less sleep that night and the following one. I can’t blame our daughter for the lack of sleep. She slept right through those nights, choosing to wait until we got back home to start keeping us up throughout the nights. In the hospital, it was the never ending carousel of nurses and techs coming in the room every 30 minutes. Sunday night, our third night, the most talkative woman in America was assigned to be our nurse or tech (I forget which). Remember that we had been in the hospital for two-and-a-half days at that point and were beyond tired. This woman had no problem staying up and working through the night, and she was only too happy to explain this phenomenon to us in excruciating detail. Sometime late in the evening on one of her frequent visits she launched into a monologue about the fact that the sound of a neighbor’s loud dog did indeed bother her a great deal even though working late nights didn’t. I never quite got the connection but had absolutely no intention of asking her for clarification. Instead, as I lay on my semi-cushioned bench in the corner of the room I was torn between whether to focus my efforts on tuning her out and trying to sleep or darting across the room and smashing my wife’s tray of uneaten food into the wall in desperate protest.

That does bring me to the topic of the food, and this really must be addressed. God bless the poor, poor souls stuck in that hospital without friends or family to get them food to replace the cafeteria meals that are served to the helpless patients. I didn’t taste the food, but I did see it, and I believe it would have been right at home in the finest prison mess halls our country has to offer. I understand that providing gourmet meals is not the core mission of a hospital, but if you are going to charge 15 grand and keep people in your care for multiple nights, they really are owed better than a piece of chicken (I believe) that looks like it has been strenuously mashed flat and then left to dry for days on end.

Those are minor grievances, though, and the whole experiencing was truly life changing. I left the hospital with a new perspective and sense of purpose. You might be inclined to question just how powerful this new-found inner strength really is. It’s understandable, but your doubts should evaporate entirely when I tell you that after returning home from the hospital I managed to successfully watch all 135 minutes of Waterworld (though it did take me five separate sessions due to a combination of baby duties and revulsion to the movie). I'm going to add to my accomplishment by saving anyone who has had thoughts of watching this movie the trouble. Plot summary- Kevin Costner has gills; also he's a total jerk, but not as much of one as all the evil dudes that ride jet skis and are commanded by Dennis Hopper (truly heartbreaking that he participated in this travesty); everyone's looking for some land, because the earth is covered with water, which blows; Kevin Costner and a few lucky folks find it, right after Kevin Costner walks on to Dennis Hopper's giant boat and manages to blow it up after openly confronting Hopper and not getting shot by either Hopper or any of his approximately 2,000-3,000 minions on board.

Well, I guess this post ended up a bit all over the place. My apologies for that. I'll close out with a summary: birth of my daughter- good; watching Waterworld- bad. That is all.

Waterworld- Exellent preparation for the horrendous children's movies in my future

Saturday, June 25, 2011

An Unwanted Visitor

Well, I’m back. As some of you know, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl last Saturday, hence my recent absence from posting. Given that life changing event, my first return post was supposed to be about the whole hospital experience. I planned on doing my best to mix together just the right blend of emotion, humor, and hospital observations to make my first post since my daughter’s birth an entry more uplifting and meaningful than the usual petty grievances to which this blog is devoted.

That entry is still in the works, but life intervened last night with events that demanded an immediate recap. The neighborhood in which we live is afflicted, for whatever reason, with a very real propensity for power loss in the event of any kind of storm. Basically, if you hear thunder in the distance, you can count on a candlelit evening and entertainment options on par with those available to your average 19th century farmer once the sun set. That’s bad enough in general, but when you throw a six-day old newborn into the mix, it takes on an entirely different dynamic. For one thing, that newborn is in the market for food every two to three hours, and typically is covered in green runny poo and pee that is a bit more difficult to adequately address by candlelight. In addition, when you already freak out 15-20 times a day that your baby might not be breathing, realizing that she’s now swaddled in a blanket in a room that is 80 degrees and rising is more than a bit unsettling.

Being the crafty people that we are, my wife and I decided on the solution of opening up our bedroom windows. We have plantation shutters that we left closed, but no window screens. So after a few rants about the quality of Georgia Power’s efforts at restoring our power, I decided to try to catch a bit of sleep despite the less than ideal conditions. Not long after I nodded off, my wife frantically woke me to tell me about a sound she had heard outside one of the windows. I hate to say that I discounted the threat level, despite my wife’s sleep-deprived mixture of hysterical laughing and crying as she alerted me to the issue. I assured her that it was most likely a tree scraping against the house, but she persisted, and soon I heard the thumping noise for myself. Trying to keep the courage up I walked over to the window and explained I’d just open the shutters quickly, reach in, and close the window. Problem solved.

Both my wife and I read a number of books prepping us for life with a newborn. They were lengthy and full of information on things to look out for, proper routines for your newborn, and other important factoids. But not a single one of those books offered tips for how to evacuate your bedroom in an orderly fashion with your newborn in hand when a bat comes flying in through the window and right past your head. We could have used such pointers, because general chaos ensued as a black bat entered through the window. I believe my wife was on the brink of passing out on the spot. I responded by jumping over the furniture, running into the dog crate and knocking its door off on the way out of the bedroom.

Is it too late to visit the baby?

The only thing I did that displayed any semblance of intelligence was to shut the bedroom door behind me as the D’Arcy family beat a path of full-out retreat from the master bedroom. Now shut out of the bedroom with a hysterical wife, a six-day old baby, and two dogs, I attempted to plot my next move. No matter how much I tried, I could come up with no solution other than my returning to the bedroom. All phones and connection to the outside world were still in there, as were all of my clothes. I needed some information on the status of the power and how to remove a bat, and my wife needed me to be wearing more than boxers, so I was going back in.

Slowly, cautiously, I reentered the room. Not seeing the bat as I first crept back in, I gained a sense of composure. I grabbed my wife’s phone and iPad, then took the time to grab one of the still-lit candles. Mistake. I turned around to leave only to see the bat doing victory laps around the bedroom ceiling, and I made a run for it. Unfortunately, my hasty exit involved dumping candle wax all over my hand. After getting out of the bedroom and doing some hasty bat research on the iPad, I felt fairly confident that if we could just get the lights on in there the bat would probably hit the road on its own. So I reached in there one final time to turn the light switch on so that they would come on whenever Georgia Power got around to reconnecting us to the 21st century. It was approximately 3:30am when that blessed event occurred. We heard some thumping in the bedroom as the bat made its exit, and then finally we had our house back.

So if anyone out there is putting a book together on life with a newborn, I strongly recommend a passage on the value of window screens. They’re not just for bugs!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The House Is Ready, The Dog Is Not

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, but I don’t want you to think I’ve been simply lounging around. No sir, it’s been a busy time here as we enter the home stretch of baby preparations. The wife and I spent an entire Saturday plus two additional hours on Sunday in a birth/newborn class. It was really a great way to pass the time, other than the 1980’s footage of uncensored childbirth. They showed four or five women, none of whom showed any interest in any of the following:

1) Pain medication
2) Wearing the hospital issued gown (i.e. they weren’t wearing one)
3) Avoiding sounding like they were in a low budget pornography film

I’ve also spent quite a bit of time assembling things, which is not one of my core competencies. I get derailed by soup cans that don’t come with the top you can pull off and actually require me to utilize the can opener, so it’s no stretch when I tell you that putting the stroller together nearly brought me to my knees. Then there was the bassinet, which required 39 steps to assemble. Granted, some of those were as simple as “insert 4 double-A batteries”, but nonetheless I just stood there staring at the manual with a combination of terror and awe muttering “39 steps…39 steps?!”.

In the end, though, I got it all put together (with some substantial help from my wife). So we were feeling pretty good about having our home just about ready for a newborn. And then an out of town friend came to spend the night with her five week old child. That's when our loveable, though perhaps mentally challenged, dog Reese came unhinged. She appeared to be prepping for a casting call for There's Something About Mary 2.

Replace Ben Stiller with a five week newborn to get the proper visual

Reese in more pleasant times

Now I'm no baby expert. I've skimmed a book or two recently and attended the aforementioned class, but that's about it. Having said that, my initial instinct is that you don't want your dog growling when your little baby coos or makes other cute little baby noises. Also, maniacally lunging at said infant and appearing as though her head might do a 360 degree turn akin to the possessed girl in The Exorcist would seem to me to be undesirable dog behavior.

And so I found myself online a few days ago hunting down a CD with baby sounds for pets and selecting the rush shipment option. In Reese's defense, we are pretty sure she is half crazy. She's also smart, though, and so we're holding out hope she'll get the whole thing figured out...hopefully more quickly than I was able to figure out the stroller.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Taking the Sideburns Up and the Self Esteem Down

I’m at a bit of a loss about something. Actually, I’m at a bit of a loss about a great many things, but let’s take it one step at a time. Where is an average dude with an average crop of hair on his dome and limited stylistic aspirations supposed to get his hair cut? I go to Great Clips. I’m not sure why I go to Great Clips. I guess I do know why. Sometime eight to ten years ago I went there. They didn’t cut either of my ears off or leave me with a reverse Mohawk, and being a man of routine that’s about all it takes to earn my repeat business.

Quite simply, I do not like change. As just one example, my world has been completely upended for the past week since I made the fateful decision to agree to finally download the latest Firefox browser on my home computer. I didn’t really want to do it but finally succumbed to the incessant pop-up request to do so every time I tried to get on the Internet. Big mistake. I now spend half of my time staring at my monitor wistfully, looking at the spots where my favorites and history were so easily accessible in the past, then aimlessly moving the mouse to and fro across the screen before giving up and angrily typing in the URL of my desired web page.

Anyway, this reluctance to toy with the status quo is quite powerful, but it might not be enough to keep me going to Great Clips. The problem is really not with the actual haircut, at least not as far as I’m aware (my wife may beg to differ). No, the issue is with the humiliation to which I’m subjected during my visits. I’ve paid enough attention to my fellow patrons’ experience to know that I’m not the only one, a fact in which I take some solace.

Before I go any further, let me say that I conceptually understand the need for a place like Great Clips to push their ancillary hair care products. There’s probably just not a lot of money to be made at $14 a haircut, so I get that they need to unload some $20 shampoo and hair moisturizers here and there to make the finances pencil. But still, is belittling the customer really the best route to take in your up-selling efforts?

Stylist: “What shampoo are you using at home?”

Craig: “Uhh, I don’t remember the brand name.”

Stylist: “Oh okay, because your hair is REALLY dry.”

Craig: “My wife buys it and I’m pretty sure it’s legit.”

Stylist: “Okay, well you should really use some of this (insert product).”

Stylist, while applying small amount of said product: “See how nice that is?”

Craig: “Uhhh, I guess so.”

Fast forward to end of haircut…

Stylist: “So would you like to buy some of (insert product)? It’s on sale today.”

It’s a different approach to be sure. Maybe retail clothing stores should try it out. Say you waltz up to the register at Macy’s or your store of choice with a button down shirt or perhaps a nice summer dress.

“Ooooh, you are really looking heavy today! We’re running a special on cross trainer shoes today? Would you like to pick up a pair? It will really help with that double chin.”

Another Great Clips customer ponders the harsh critiques that accompany a $14 haircut

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Surviving a Quick Trip to Los Angeles

I kicked last week off with a 7:25am Monday morning flight to Los Angeles. Any week that begins with a 6:00am drive on I-285, followed by partially disrobing in the airport security line and then praying to the powers that be that your toothpaste and hair gel pass muster on the conveyor belt is going to be a tough one in my book. The trip took yet another turn for the worse when the European gentleman in front of me waiting to board the plane, sporting a shirt too short to tuck in even if had been so inclined and low-rise jeans, bent over for no less than a three minute stint to execute some sort of detailed rearrangement of the contents of his backpack. This wouldn’t have been overly problematic, except that his undersized shirt and jeans parted ways to reveal a most prominent coin slot. For a fragile mind such as mine, still stressed from doing nonstop inventories of my person to make sure I hadn’t left my watch or one of my shoes back at security, it was almost more than I could bear.

Thankfully, that marked the low point for the trip, for me at least. My comrades on the plane would quite possibly point to 30 minutes later when I woke myself up in a fit of snoring. In retrospect, I’m not sure my efforts to mask the episode with a false bout of sniffles and a subtle backhand drool wipe-off fooled them. At any rate, we all made it through. After arriving in LA I drove to my meeting, where my primary contribution was not repeating my sleeping episode from the plane. After the meeting, the plan was to visit two of my company's stores in the area. They were each 25 to 30 miles away, meaning I was signed up for some LA highway time. Spending the afternoon driving the area, I learned a few things. First, LA traffic doesn't seem as bad as it's made out to be. I suppose the more accurate explanation is just that Atlanta traffic is horrendous enough to inoculate you against the worst the nation has to offer. Second, Los Angeles has casinos?! Who knew? Maybe these are video casinos or something of the sort, but still. I had no idea. Thankfully I was far too tired to investigate further. Finally, there is apparently a huge market for radical weight loss surgery out there. I honestly swear that fifty percent of all billboards in the LA area are for 1-800-GET-THIN, which apparently provides lap band surgery. This is noteworthy, no? I thought the entire population of that city stayed rail thin eating tofu and sprouts.

That night I shook off the lap band billboards and treated myself to In-N-Out Burger, consumed in the hotel room. Enjoying a cheap meal in the hotel room is one of the absolute underrated aspects of business travel, and I am always more than a little heartbroken when my intentions to do so are undercut by well meaning fellow travelers looking to eat dinner together. No such worries on this trip, and so an otherwise brutal day on the road ended in style...assuming your version of style is cramming down a Milky Way from the gift shop of a Comfort Suites.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Texas Baseball Coach Is Here to Motivate

Are you dragging a bit? Feeling a bit complacent today? Allow Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido to put a little fire in your belly. My two personal favorite moments:

1) The absolute disgust he displays at the fact that none of his players have been involved in a gang fight (0:45).

2) The move where he completely loses it and goes with the violent repetitive two handed slapping of a chair (3:01). I may be partial to this because I pulled the same move in Mississippi State's arena during a game with Ole Miss during my freshman year and was threatened with removal by a nearby security guard.

***PLEASE NOTE- this video is chock-full of profanity.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Battling Through

There is a conspiracy afoot. Someone, or something, doesn’t want you all reading new blog posts here at Sic Transit Gloria. Ludicrous? It might seem so at first, but let’s examine the evidence:

1) Power has gone out for 12-18 hour stretches twice in the past week and a half here at the house. That might not be so noteworthy, except…

2) The second time temporarily fried our home computer , rendering it unusable for four additional days and nights. That might not derail your average 21st century blogger, but…

3) I am a technological idiot, incapable of tapping into the majesty of the Internet without the service of a computer bound to the wall with wires and cables.

It all seems a bit shady, does it not? Any one of those three items might happen naturally, maybe even two of them. But all three? I find it very unlikely. And so the world has sought to tear us down, like Talia Shire on the stairs in Rocky IV shrieking “You Can’t Win!!!” But I won’t be stopped that easily. No sir, I have been undergoing a grueling regimen in preparation for my return. I’ve had the wife slapping me in the gut during sit ups ala the Rocky 2 training scene. Actually that just happened when she saw I hadn’t finished moving the furniture in the nursery, but you catch my drift.

Truth be told, my efforts have been a bit less impressive than that. I did get in my car and drive around once, like Rocky did after Talia Shire voiced her treasonous doubt in the aforementioned scene. I wasn't pissed or thinking about motivational stuff, though, and I just ended up driving to Kroger and getting a steak to throw on the grill. Other than that, there's been some general angst awaiting the repair of the computer, then some general staring at the monitor and then at notebook paper and then back to the monitor.

The good news is that we are back up and running here and I'm mulling a few ideas for the blog in the coming weeks. If I can combine those ideas with a session in which I gain proficiency on our iPad, then watch out world.

P.S. I mentioned in a previous post my amazement at the results Google image search gives you these days. Here's the winner of most entertaining/random picture discovered while composing this post. A search for "Rocky 2 slapping stomach" (admittedly likely to produce some strange results) delivered this gem...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Overpriced Cakes and Bad TV

Wow, I was tired today. I mean really tired, as in I was about to go air traffic controller right there in the office and just put the head down for an hour or so. If I am ever taken prisoner by bad guys and they are looking to pry information out of me, this is the way. No need to go hardcore, just limit me to six hours of sleep for a couple of nights and I’ll be unloading any information they are looking for (not sure what exactly that would be, perhaps a blow-by-blow recap of the 1988 slam dunk contest?). This bodes well for a guy two months from welcoming a baby into the world, no? Scary.

Anyway, I managed to stay awake long enough to surf the Internet for a bit, and what I discovered did nothing to cheer me up. Sure, fires are raging across the great state of Texas and the unrest in the Middle East continues unabated. But what really darkened my mood was reading that yet another reality show about a maker of designer cakes is debuting this week. Now if you’ve read this blog at all you know that wall to wall reality TV programming is a staple in my house. Up to now my wife has (thankfully) shown no inclination to add this genre to our current lineup, and I can only pray that continues.

I don’t even know where to start with this whole concept. For starters, does it not matter that the cake she’s finishing up in her promo picture is about to slide off the plate? I hope there’s nothing in that martini glass perched perilously on top. It is refreshing to see that the whole thing hasn’t kept her from staying grounded in reality.

“Big corporations, rodeos and rock concerts will spend $500,000 on a party,” she said. “What I charge for a cake is nothing to them. And oftentimes, it feeds 4,000 people. That works out to $5 or $10 per serving. It only seems crazy if you look at the final number.”

Uhh, okay. Forgive me if $10 for a small sliver of cake does seem crazy. I guess the real takeaway from that quote, though, is the fact that rodeos are big in the overpriced designer cake circuit. I would think that guys that are willing to get kicked in the balls by giant bulls and face down the very real prospect of death for an outside chance at winning a check for $8,000 would eschew $10 a slice cake, but maybe not.

People, let me give you a tip. If you need a big cake, go to Costco! Other than the mildly unsettling layer of cream they jam in the middle, they are actually quite tasty. And if you are bored enough to ponder watching this embarrassment of a show, get a hobby!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Next Three Days- A Brief Review

Aaaaand I am back. Perhaps you assumed I was off on an exotic trip or at least chopping my way through a lengthy list of manly chores. Alas, my recent days have spent watching American Idol and reading The Kite Runner. I actually did just complete painting our nursery, a task that would have taken a normal person six to eight hours but in my case stretched over six grueling evenings. Happily, tonight I put the finishing touches on my effort.

On Sunday I took a quick break from painting to watch The Next Three Days. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want too much given away (like, for example, the fact that this movie is straight up horrendous) you should stop reading here. You know it’s a bad sign when the DVD starts freezing up an hour and a half into a movie and you half hope it will just completely lock up to put you out of your misery. The good news is that apparently it is relatively easy to break an inmate out of the federal pen in Pittsburgh, should the need arise. So easy in fact, that Russell Crowe’s character (John Brennan) didn’t even get around putting his plan in action until about 70% of the way through the movie.

What transpired for the first 90 minutes? That’s a great question, actually. A good 10 minutes of screen time was taken up by Elizabeth Banks muttering inaudible lines, which forced my wife and I to repeatedly back up the DVD and jack the volume up to levels previously untested on my stereo. Then somewhere along the way there was a five-minute cameo by Liam Neeson, who clearly owed someone either a giant favor or a large gambling debt. His character escaped from prison seven times, then turned himself in every time…because that all makes perfect sense. Supposedly he would always turn himself in because he got tired of waiting for someone to catch him. The main character finds him because he published a book about his successful escapes. Now I’m no expert here, but my sense is that breaking out of prison seven times tacks on a good stretch of time to your sentence, such that you would not be enjoying a nice latte in one of Pittsburgh’s fine coffee houses.

Liam Neeson contemplates the wisdom of signing on for The Next Three Days

The highlight of the movie, though, is John Brennan’s first attempt at breaking his wife out. First he learns how to make a skeleton key watching YouTube videos. Who knew? I just like to watch old football highlights and the occasional Irish music video. Anyway, he takes his homemade key to the jail and gets it around security with relative ease. He then tries to open a side door, but sadly breaks his key in the process. The police quickly notice the broken key in the door and lock the place down. They then reveal that they have security footage with a clear shot of the hall and the group of visitors with whom Brennan entered. In a show of masterful skill, the lead guard shows Brennan the video and asks him to point to himself in the video.

Brennan: “Uhhh, over here.” (pointing to middle of crowd)

Cop: “This isn’t you back here at the door?”

Brennan: “Uhhh…”

Cop: “Okay, well if it is you then you might want to think about what will happen to your kid if both his parents are in prison.”

Brennan: “Got it.”

Then he takes the advice to heart and focuses on his kid rather than hatching an escape plan for his wife. No, wait, he breaks his wife out while barely breaking a sweat and spends the rest of his days hanging out with his family in a beautiful coastal setting. By the end of the movie, I was actively rooting for the demise of both the main character and his wife or at least to be overtaken by a Joe Biden-style nap. Sadly, neither came to fruition.

Joe Biden has the right approach for a viewing of The Next Three Days

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Difficult Decisions

Whooo, hot times here at the house! Not hot times like there's an epic party going down for which you missed the invitation. Hot times like it was 81 degrees in our bedroom last night, since our upstairs air conditioning unit has officially given up the ghost. It has been a rockin' couple of evenings here, the heat not withstanding. Last night I watched a portion of the thrilling NCAA championship slugfest between Butler and UConn. I went upstairs to watch the second half in bed, only to find the TV on Bethenny Ever After. It was great, though, because I had really been longing to see the behind the scenes footage of the stressful time leading up to her appearance on the equally riveting Skating With The Stars competition a few months ago.

So there I was, all bummed out about having to sit through 20 minutes of inane footage of Bethenny and her squadron of handlers while the game moved into the critical second half. But the great thing about last night's game was that you could tune out for 20-30 minute stretches of time and miss no more than a handful of baskets. Actually, I'm not sure Butler stuck a single point on the board while I watched Bethenny fret about her 40th birthday party and the terrible stress she was under.

Tonight is a bit calmer, as I'm taking the opportunity to do a bit of reading. As a side note, I have that Comcast adult alternative music channel on TV and Mercy by Duffy just came on. That's song I hate just a little more each time I hear it. And just a moment ago, Duffy sunk even lower in my book. The channel runs little facts about the artist as the song plays. Normally you learn that so and so lists Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane among their influences, or that they first performed on stage when they were four at the local mall. Anyway, they just showed that Duffy became interested in the music industry after watching Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act. Phenomenal.

My biggest learning, though, came from the baby book I am trying to power through. I have no intention of stirring up emotions or any kind of eco-debate here. I was just honestly baffled to read a section on "diapering essentials". Specifically, in a very even-handed way the book laid out the choice of disposable vs. cloth diapers. Really? Is this book perhaps sold in Amish lands or as a package deal with those newspapers sold by residents of communes? Here's how the book lays out the downside of going down the cloth diaper path.

"The downside is that they don't always absorb wetness as well as disposables do, and you can sometimes have more leakage of urine and stool from them."

Wow, hang on, let me think this one through. That decision could really go either way, but I guess I'm leaning towards the option with...less leakage of urine and stool. I look forward to the next chapter, where I will undoubtedly learn the pros and cons of heating the nursery with a wood-burning stove.

The downside is...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No More Cinderella

Holy cow, what a week. Last week I was tasked with giving a presentation to by far the largest audience of my adult life. Somewhere between 500 and 600 folks in the energy industry had the riveting pleasure of listening to 20 minutes from yours truly on how a large retail company approaches energy efficiency at its stores. Yes, a raucous time was had by all. As I mentioned in a blog post last summer, I’m no great fan of public speaking. The pressure was further ramped up on me, as the conference inconveniently scheduled a speaker who appears regularly on CNBC shortly before me. This guy was channeling Tony Robbins, while I was hoping my suit jacket would be enough to protect the masses from my panicked sweating. I’m happy to report that I ultimately managed to hold my own on stage. At least that’s what they tell me. I think I went blackout ala Will Ferrell in the Old School debate scene about halfway through my presentation.

Anyway, the speech was part of an industry conference that started on the first Sunday of the NCAA tournament. Now that would normally irritate me, but it actually served the purpose of preventing me from having to witness my brackets go up in smoke for yet another year. More importantly than the demise of my dreams of winning some cash, though, are the implications for college basketball as we move forward. And while many are cheering the unlikely presence of VCU and Butler in the Final Four, I don’t think those implications are good.

College basketball is struggling these days. I watched fewer games this year than I ever have in my life. Now there are a number of reasons for that, one of which is certainly the fact that my Mississippi State Bulldogs were a train wreck both on and off the court. Watching two members of your team throwing haymakers at each other in the stands after a December game is not a great motivator to buy the ESPN Full Court package.

Mississippi State basketball 2010-2011...good seats still available in the bench area.

Still, I’ve watched my share of college basketball in years past even when my alma mater struggled. But back then it was easy to make sense of the general landscape of the sport. The “Big Six” conferences each had two or three perennial powers that could be found in the top 25 every year. Then there were another two or three programs in each league that were typically solid and trying to claw their way to elite status. Then in any given year you might have another few squads across the country that would be having a great year by their standards and therefore be in the mix. Occasionally a UNLV or Memphis might come out of left field and interject themselves, and that was it. Lengthy debates about the relative strength of conferences would be had. In most years, you could count on the ACC coming out on top in those discussions, but all the major conferences could hold their collective heads high. Also, you could watch the progression of a team over two or three years. Sure, Kentucky might have taken an early exit from the tournament one year, but you knew that their freshmen-laden team would be back and even better the following season.

Fast forward to today. Who exactly is in the Final Four again? And who are their players? Without looking it up, I can name exactly three players on Final Four teams- Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight, and DeAndre Liggins. That’s a poor statement about me for sure, but it also says something about college hoops. Honestly, if you exclude Mississippi State and North Carolina, I don’t think I could name more than 10 players if you let me choose from every team in the country. I think the NBA rule mandating players wait one year after high school before being eligible for the draft has made the college game even worse than it was when the best players bypassed it entirely and opted to go straight to the league. At least back then there was a bit more stability.

There has to be something else going on as well, though. How have we ended up with a world where Wake Forest goes 8-24 in freaking college basketball? Meanwhile we have San Diego State and BYU camped out in the top 10 for the entire season. The second round of this year’s tournament (I mean the round with 32 teams, don’t get me started on the “First Four”) featured the following teams- George Mason, Temple, San Diego St, Richmond, Morehead St, Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, Gonzaga, and BYU. That’s eight of the 32 teams! The second round used to be the exciting chance to watch the one or two little guy Cinderella schools that had fought through somebody from a power conference and now had their shot at an improbable run at the Sweet Sixteen. Now half of those teams are favored in their second round games. Back in 1999 when Gus Johnson went bonkers on the mic for one of the first times as Gonzaga upset Florida to reach the Elite Eight, it was a legitimately moving moment because it was something that we hadn't seen before. Take a look and see if you can remember what it was like, lo those many years ago, when there was still such a thing as a Cinderella story in the NCAA tournament...

"The slipper still fits!"- A classic call from the not-too-distant past

As exciting as the ending of many of this year's games have been, there's just no longer this kind of shock factor when a big name program falls. When the little guy wins this often, there's no such thing as Cinderella.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Allow me to take a brief pause from the in depth analysis you have come to expect from this site on matters as disparate as the proper technique for stealing rotisserie chicken to my decision to download a Bruce Hornsby album on iTunes. For whatever reason, I’ve been wheel spinning on how exactly to incorporate this announcement into my posts for awhile now. In general, I have attempted to spare my legions of blog readers from any sort of emoting on my part. At some point, though, it only makes sense to get the word out there.

The announcement, for those who don’t already know, is that my wife is pregnant and we are expecting a baby girl here in the near future. I wrestled with whether to make this the focus of one of these posts, but I couldn’t figure out a subtle way to slyly tuck the news into another post so there it is. As much as anything I just wanted to forewarn everyone so that no one is caught unaware the first time I devote a few paragraphs to detailed analysis of baby poo or my anger at a lactation consultant. Perhaps I will even log in and unleash some sort of William Faulkner stream-of-consciousness rant after a few sleepless nights. We still have a few months of preparation before we get there, but consider yourself warned.

For now, we are readying ourselves for the big day. My wife has read three-and-a-half of the 10 books she either bought or was given. I believe she has the first 365 days already planned out in 15 minute increments. Meanwhile, I'm about 60 pages into my first book on fatherhood for your baby's first year. I knew I liked the book after reading the second chapter, which asked you to identify where you wanted to be on the scale of kinds of fathers. The first type of father was one who essentially hated his baby and didn't want to see it until he/she was old enough to drive him to a bar. The second kind of father didn't hate his baby, but was dumb enough to think you could leave them in a parked car for five or six hours. Of course, the descriptions climbed the ladder from there. But even on autopilot, I'm pretty sure I can get myself about two thirds of the way up the fatherhood scale according to this book.

In all seriousness, we are truly excited and looking forward to expanding the ranks of the D’Arcy clan. We are gratefully accepting all advice. Oh, and free baby gear.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Little Anxiety on My Vacation

Greetings! I'm just getting home from a nice mini-vacation that was, for the most part, extremely relaxing. We spent a few days in a rented condo on the beach in Seabrook Island, SC. We were looking for something quiet and extremely chill, and our condo at Seabrook delivered perfectly. Unfortunately, I did not make it through this getaway without a couple of jarring moments.

The first one came while getting caught up on the collection of magazines that had slowly piled up at the house over the past couple of months. I kicked it off with a Golf Digest, a magazine I was certain I could skim through in 10 to 15 minutes. Sadly, I came face to face with a site for which I was ill-prepared.

One thing you learn as you get older is that nothing is sacred. You recoil in horror as the sports you loved as a child are trashed by self absorbed, overpaid players. Your blissful ignorance is shattered when you realize that neither law nor common decency prevents a wretched rehashing of an all time classic like The Karate Kid by the likes of Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. Still, you figure some things and some people are beyond compromise. And then you flip past the editor's column in Golf Digest and run into this ad...

I'll have that frozen daiquiri shaken, not stirred.

Are you kidding me?! James freaking Bond posing with a Louis Vuitton man-purse? Unacceptable. Don't you get your status as knight revoked for this kind of abomination? This may just tip the scales in Roger Moore's favor when ranking those who have portrayed Bond. Truthfully, if Connery shows up in any more of these he might just find himself below the enchanting Timothy Dalton as well.

Following that incident, the trip sailed along smoothly until our return drive home earlier today. We brought our dogs along for the festivities, knowing that they would enjoy running around on an otherwise empty beach. Traveling with the dogs did cause some alterations to our general road trip routine, though. Chief among the changes was that one stop along the way needed to occur at a rest area to afford the dogs the chance to stretch the old legs and handle their business. Now perhaps some of you are big fans of the state run rest stops that dot our interstates, but I personally haven't stopped in at one in many a year.

I do harbor a generally low opinion of them and, as such, was on the lookout for unseemly characters and activities. It was with this mindset that I entered the men's restroom at the rest stop at the Georgia-South Carolina border. My initial impression was good enough, I've certainly been in worse looking restrooms. I surveyed the scene and noted one fellow bathroom patron as I slid into the end urinal. That's where things took a turn for the worse. Over the next 30 seconds three additional gentlemen joined us, all of them selecting the urinals closest to me. Not good.

"Stay calm, Craig. These are probably just well meaning travelers not familiar with the etiquette that dictates they select urinals with as much spacing between men as possible."

And so I focused my attention on the sink, avoiding all eye contact and trying to escape as quickly as possible without appearing rattled. After a quick hand washing session, I speed walked over to the door without looking up. I reached for the handle and my escape to civilization...the door was locked. Uh oh. Panic quickly settled in as I more violently attacked the door handle. It was definitely locked, and now I was sweating it. There was now no choice but to lift up the head and fully assess my situation. It was at this moment that it quickly became clear that I had spent the last 30 seconds trying to storm my way into the janitor's closet, with the actual exit door about five feet to my right. Good times on the open road!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Is That a Chicken in Your Pants?

This is just wrong on so many levels...

Report: Man tries to hide rotisserie chicken in his pants

A northwest Georgia man was arrested for allegedly trying to steal a rotisserie chicken and some wings from Walmart by placing the items in his pants.

Joseph Lee Stringer, 27, also put a toothbrush and a mouth guard down his pants before trying to leave the store through the garden center, the Rome News-Tribune reported.

Stringer, of Kingston, was charged with misdemeanor shoplifting and released on $1,350 bond, according to the report.

Now I don't believe in negativity without trying to find some good at the same time. So let's start off applauding Joseph Lee Stringer for his recognition that, indeed, the consumption of rotisserie chicken and wings should be followed by a good tooth brushing session. But, dude, if you are going to participate in the food smuggling trade, you have got to be willing to adjust your dinner menu. Hey, I like wings and mushy Wal-Mart rotisserie chicken as much as the next guy, but if it's going in your pants it needs packaging. That's just how it is, brother. Pilfer some of those frozen burritos or perhaps some tasty soup. Not only are they a better fit, but they won't ass up your sweat pants with stains and what not.

The $1,350 bond does seem a bit excessive, though. I can only hope at least a portion of that goes to the employee that had to restock the wings and rotisserie chicken in the deli section.

Thanks to heady Wal-Mart security, Joseph Lee Stringer never made it this far.

Crappy Tails

It’s been just over a week, and the D’Arcy family is still reeling from the events of the morning of Feb. 19th. On that fateful day, my wife and I headed out with our dog Charlie in tow. We were headed to an evaluation session with Happy Tails to get him approved so that we could go with him to senior centers and other places where less fortunate folks of all stripes could enjoy spending some time hanging out with a dog.

We knew Charlie would be perfect for this for a number of reasons. First, he loves interacting with people and is basically good to go as long as he is getting attention from people. In addition, we took him to an eight week training class last Spring which he passed with flying colors. Finally, Charlie is not what you would call an, uhhh, intimidating dog.

Charlie (center) striking fear in nearby dogs at the dog park

Granted, we did have a bit of concern as to how things might play out that morning given our initial impression of Happy Tails. We had already been to an orientation session. That session was the first, and easiest, of five steps required to join Happy Tails (bad sign number one). During the session, the representative was EXTREMELY serious about the rules and regulations of Happy Tails (bad sign number two). She described the pet/handler evaluation process and noted that "the evaluation starts the moment you knock on the door". Uhhh, okay. Take it easy, hon, we're here to sign up for a volunteer organization, not to try to crack into the Omega Theta Pi pledge class. Now don't get me wrong, I certainly appreciate the need for an evaluation process. As this dog owner in Portland can certainly attest, not all dogs are cut out for extensive human interaction...

ROSEBURG, Ore. — A diabetic Oregon man with no feeling in his feet woke up to find his dog had eaten part of his right foot, including three toes...

I just assumed she was exaggerating the whole thing to make sure interested parties didn't show up with Snots from Christmas Vacation. I was sadly mistaken.

The morning of the evaluation I saddled up to the computer to get driving directions. That's when I discovered that they we were headed to a place in Woodstock called Ironclad Obedience (bad sign number three). I did take Charlie for a quick walk around the block before we left to try to get rid of some of his nerves. Unfortunately, he was still super-charged when I knocked on the door to begin the fun. I was ushered to a sitting area to wait on the beginning of the official evaluation. It took me all of about 60 seconds sitting there to know that I was on the front end of a train wreck. Several of the dogs in our vicinity looked like their owners had popped them with a tranquilizer dart right before entering the Ironclad Obedience premises. Meanwhile, the collection of dogs and crotchety blue-haired ladies patrolling the room with clipboards had Charlie doing a combination of jogging in circles at my feet and barking at me.

This dart is apparently needed to get your pet into the Happy Tails inner circle.

Soon enough I was waved over to station number one. Yes, there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 stations we would have to navigate. The first lady checked his grooming. Good enough so far. But then we moved on to attempting to have Charlie stay laying down while I walked 20 yards away. I found this rather amusing, since they were adamant at several points in the process that I not let go of his leash at any time during the evaluation or during actual visits. So unless I'm keeping him on a 60 foot leash, why are we ever going to encounter this situation? Next was an intense review of me walking Charlie, which we also failed due to our leash not drooping into a proper J shape while we navigated the straightaway. Next, one of the bitter evaluators started at one end of a walkway with a dog while Charlie and I started at the other end. Charlie made the fateful mistake of crossing from my right to my left to check out the other dog's nose. Fail.

And on and on it went. I looked over at one point and saw roughly 10 "X"s on the fail side. I think there were two or three on the pass side, but I can't say for certain. The real bummer is that in every portion that actually mattered, he was a rock star. He happily licked the grill of a lady in a wheelchair, laid compliantly on the ground while four people simultaneously petted and grabbed him, and stayed by my side as evaluators dropped pans and books on the ground in front of us. But his fate was already sealed. Happy Tails was looking for comatose dogs, and Charlie didn't fit the bill. Finally I was instructed to wait outside the front door where all the fun began. I stepped out there just as a heartbroken lady was told to hit the road because her extremely well behaved dog had apparently not passed one of the 10-12 stations. For Charlie, it was not nearly so close of a call, and the woman who was dispatched to inform me of the results seemed to take some pleasure in chastising me and my dog. For her finishing move, she took the leash from me and proceeded to jerk Charlie's leash and collar to get his attention. She stared at him and bitterly stated "I have a Brittany Spaniel, so you can't fool me." Something in that lady's voice made me fairly certain that the Brittany Spaniel in question spends most of its time chained to a radiator.

A disappointed Charlie attempts to come to grips with rejection.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! This post will be a short one, but I thought I'd relay a couple of tidbits from my preparation for this joyous holiday. Even though we decided to go extremely low key this year, I was not spared from a couple of painful episodes.

Purchasing a Card
Buying a card is always far more nerve wracking than I anticipate. The geniuses that manufacture greeting cards have come up with three genres of Valentine's Day card.

1) The uber gay- Yes, we are all looking to the card to put a bit of eloquence to what we feel about our significant other. We would like them to make it to the end of said card without having to wonder if they have unwittingly married George Michael, though.

Happy Valentine's Day...oh and one more thing...

2) The ridiculously short- I love the cards retailing for $4.99 that have a tiny drawing of a couple of birds perched on a branch on the front and something along the lines of "We're great together. Happy Valentine's Day." on the inside. It's never a good sign when your lady flips to the back of the card to figure out whether you bought it or made it yourself.

3) The "humorous" card- Even if these cards didn't appear to be written by castoff writers from The Jay Leno Show I find it hard to believe my wife would be pumped to receive one.

So given the scarcity of acceptable cards, we men are going to be forced to linger for a bit while we search. My request to our fellow card shoppers is this- Please, please conduct your card search in silence. While shopping for a card this past Saturday, I found myself next to a lady who couldn't resist vocalizing her reaction to the cards she was perusing. "Ooooooohhhhh...Mmmmm hmmmmm...That's a nice one."

Uhhh, maam, jockeying through the crowd at Target in search of a card I can purchase with some semblance of dignity is a difficult enough challenge without getting the play-by-play.

Buying Flowers
I'm not here to tell you that you have to get flowers for your lady, nor do I intend to tell you what kind of floral arrangement works best. No, my only flower advice is this- Pay close attention to where you purchase your flowers. Let's say you are celebrating Valentine's Day on Saturday night. Now let's say it's 2:30 and you decide to grab some flowers. Well, you've already made a mistake, as most florists close at noon on Saturday. But your situation is not hopeless! There are some florists that are open all day on Saturday. However, and this is very important, just because one of those places is named Atlanta Flower Market you should not necessarily assume that it is located in the city proper. It may in fact be located in Roswell, some 60 minutes north of the actual city of Atlanta.

I'm happy to report that I did ultimately find a card I could live with and pick up flowers from the "Atlanta" Flower Market in time to make it back for dinner. And good thing, too, because all my efforts would have been for naught had I derailed the final item on the agenda- a magical evening at Don Pablo's.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Classic Album Ushers in the Modern Era

A couple of nights ago marked a major milestone in the life of Craig D’Arcy (note the third person reference to myself ala an elite athlete at a press conference as an indicator of my level of bravado). No I did not complete a half marathon or learn how to grow pumpkins in my very own garden. Yes I did, for the first time in my life, purchase an album on iTunes. I’ve nibbled around the edges with the download of individual songs before when I knew I didn’t want more than one or two songs from an artist. But never before have I desired an entire collection of songs from an artist and acquired them via iTunes rather than conducting a hunt for the actual CD in the ever-diminishing music section of my local Borders.

Now before you shower me with huzzahs and praise, I must confess that the album in question was the debut opus of Bruce Hornsby and the Range, The Way It Is. I used to own this cassette tape, and its masterful blend of heartfelt piano and upbeat tunes got me through many a day in the late high school/early college years. At some point that tape met an untimely demise, either melting in the back window of one of my cars or perhaps falling out of my car unnoticed as I removed an overstuffed Wendy’s sack. Either way, something recently reminded me of it and I decided those songs needed to make a return to my music library.

Nothing says "modern" like Bruce Hornsby and his original bandmates (and their hair).

I haven’t decided how I feel yet about going the iTunes route. On the one hand, it was certainly a beautiful thing to conduct the transaction in all of 30 seconds, with the songs now loaded up and available to be mixed and matched with whatever other ones in my collection strike my fancy. On the downside, how will I know to whom this album was dedicated or who is sitting in on the saxophone on track #6 without the handy CD booklet?

I think it's a bit sad that we have said goodbye to the old way of buying music. What a stressful but exciting experience. Buying a tape/CD was such a roll of the dice. You knew one, perhaps two songs on the album. Armed with having heard those songs and your general impression of the artist, you had to make the go/no go decision. Then you would unwrap it on the way to your car, load it up, and anxiously wait to find out what you had on your hands. Sometimes you were treated to some fantastic music that you wouldn't otherwise have heard. Other times you kept skipping forward and slowly realized that you were going to have to test the store's return policy and claim some sort of damage to your newly-purchased Chesney Hawkes cassette.

Most who purchased the Chesney Hawkes album were left disappointed beyond the catchy title track.

There's no point clinging stubbornly to the past, though, so I think it's time I leave CD purchases in the rear view mirror. And I'll have to leave it at that. My favorite show is about to start and I need to program my VCR.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Office Bathroom Decorum- Embrace It

Greetings readers! Also, greetings to any Google Image searchers whose quest for pictures of a naked David Hasselhoff posing with dogs or Chuck Norris-endorsed exercise equipment accidentally led you here. I have to admit this hasn't been the greatest day in the world. I woke up thinking it was already Friday instead of Thursday, and then I took a bit of a pummeling at work. And so I was strongly considering wallowing in my self pity and letting another evening slip by without a post. "Perhaps I'll just sit here and read up on the Egyptian riots or college football recruiting or some other depressing topic" I thought to myself. And just then, my computer jumped to the rescue. My iTunes, playing in the background, dug up this gem to put a skip in my step and get me back in the game.

Yes indeed, it's Swing Out Sister! Just try listening to that and still being in a bad mood. You can't do it, can you? Now for an even more difficult challenge, try to believe me when I tell you I'm not gay even though that song is in my iTunes library.

At any rate, with my spirits lifted I'm ready to tackle an issue that I've been meaning to address for awhile. This one is for all the men out there working in corporate America. First, let me say that I believe a vivid imagination is a beautiful thing at any age, so I don’t begrudge my fellow comrades who like to escape momentarily from the reality of the daily grind of office life. But having said that, I need to break some news to you. Based on what I’ve seen, some of you may be every bit as rattled by this revelation as you were in your youth when the truth about Santa Claus was revealed. Still, I feel that it is necessary and will ultimately benefit both you and mankind as a whole. So here goes...

The door to the men's room is not some magic, Narnia-like portal to a different world. It’s really just a door, and you are really still surrounded by coworkers. While this may seem obvious to many of us, there are clearly many men out there that have been heretofore unaware of this. How else are we to explain why an otherwise normal guy would proceed to methodically wash his bald head in the office bathroom sink while I am standing next to him? And that is one of the milder offenses. The level of comfort some feel in a public restroom is truly mind blowing. I understand you aren't feeling great and need to go to the restroom, hence your presence in the stall with your pants on the ground. Still, is it really necessary to unleash a series of grunts that lead me to believe I've wandered into a live birth in the primate section of the Atlanta Zoo? I think not. And there is quite simply no cell phone conversation, under any circumstances, that is important enough to conduct while sitting on the toilet in the office restroom. Seriously. Odds are they don't want to talk to you in the first place. Also, why are some men who are doing what they need to in the stall hellbent on making it out of there and running into you, who has merely stopped in for a quick pee? Sir, just hold your ground in the stall for a minute until the other person has left the restroom. Otherwise, an uncomfortable (and entirely preventable) exchange at the sinks is guaranteed.

Ladies, I am just going to assume none of this lack of decorum goes on in your restroom. Thinking otherwise would be more than enough to derail my Swing Out Sister-inspired emotional rally. And with that, I bid you good evening. My Lionel Richie Chill playlist beckons.