Friday, April 30, 2010

Fancy Pants

I decided three weeks ago that I was done wearing fancy clothes to work. And I deem fancy clothes to be any pants that I have to wear shiny shoes with. So I wear jeans to work everyday now. And when I reasoned my way to this conclusion, I realized I'm still just a child. Because I went through all the arguments I made as a kid and used them on myself.

-Bandwagon - "All of my coworkers are doing it. I see people wearing jeans all the time, not just on Fridays." And this is true. I see a ton of people wearing jeans and I figured I shouldn't have to miss out. I know, I know... if everyone jumped off a bridge, would I do it too? (Probably.)

-Entitlement - "It's not fair! Other people get to wear jeans and I don't!" As soon as I had this thought, I got a text from my mom that said, "Life's not fair." Moms just know when you're having those types of thoughts.

-Peer Pressure - "Come on man! It's just one pair of jeans. No one's gonna know!"

-Projecting - "Everyone wants me to wear jeans anyway. They all know I look like an idiot when I wear Dockers!"

-Nonconformism - "I don't want to look like everyone else. I'm not a part of their system! Fight the man!"

-Collective effervescence - "I don't know what this term means but it was on the 'Group Behavior' page of Wikipedia!"

So anyway, I'm done with fancy clothes. No more pleats, no more dress socks. I'll wear jeans from now on until I'm fired! Or until they tell me to stop.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Fingers Are Perpetually Pruny

My wife gets mad at me because I take such long showers (sidenote: I just horribly misspelled the last word of that sentence and somehow typed "whoress" on the first try). And I always have to defend my time getting clean. And I was thinking about that this morning as I entered the 35th minute of my shower. Shouldn't she be more concerned with insanely short showers? Think about it. If I take long showers, that means I'm spending more time becoming a cleaner person. If I'm in and out in two minutes, people would start to question my commitment to cleanliness because of my stink. And nobody wants that.

Plus, I don't know what she thinks I'm doing in there. It's not like I'm reading a book. I'm a big guy, so I have a lot of surface area to cover. At 6'3" and weighing in at 265 pounds... "in his third season in the NBA... a guard from the University of North Carolina... number twelve... TAYLOR..." sorry, I got carried away. What was I saying? Oh yeah, at 6'3" and weighing in at 265 pounds, I have more of me to clean than the average person does.

So it's really just a math problem. If the average person takes a 15-minute shower and I'm twice the size of an average person, I would conceivably take a 30-minute shower and be well within reason. Add in the fact that I shave my face in the shower, and I'm still sluggish from being asleep... and hitting the 40-minute mark isn't out of the question. Plus, if I do want to read a book, that's the only place I can concentrate.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"That's All I Have To Say About That"

Sometimes my older brother is a little difficult to talk to. He's not stupid, but he doesn't really pay attention. He doesn't know when to use "its" versus "it's." He thinks "irregardless" is a word. And he spells things however he wants. His motto is, "Who cares? You knew what I meant, so it doesn't matter." But that attitude of apathy towards grammar, punctuation, and spelling is what makes English majors like myself have mental breakdowns.

But I try really hard not to get upset about that kind of stuff. I know I shouldn't hold everyone to the same English standards to which I hold myself. And there's nothing more annoying than a pretentious, self-serving English major who looks down on everyone because he thinks he's better than them (even if he is). And it's not like I never make any mistakes. I just feel like I avoid the obvious, blatant ones because I'm so aware of them.

But with my brother, it's other stuff that gets to me. For example, he gets most of his history references from films. And that would be fine if he ever watched documentaries. But he doesn't. He watches regular Hollywood movies and takes what he sees at face value. Which explains why he thinks Forrest Gump exposed the Watergate scandal and Rocky Balboa ended the Cold War.

And then I try to explain to him that those movies are just historical fiction. But he doesn't get it. He claims that most of that stuff is based on true stories anyway, so he's gonna go ahead and believe it. So whenever I have an extended conversation with him, I have to reward myself with something like a candy bar or coffee (or a sedative) just for making it through without a blood vessel bursting in my brain.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eight Groan-Worthy Nerdy Jokes And Puns

1. If Admiral Ackbar worked at Starbucks, he'd give me my order and yell, "It's a frap!"

2. Why would anyone buy a Toyota Highlander? Everybody knows that in the end, there can be only one.

3. I think I'll go to the grocery store and re-label all the Sparkling Cider as "Twilight Vampire" Cider.

4. I think the Harry Potter series would have been much better if David Caruso stood in the wreckage of the Potter house at the beginning of the first book, put his hands on his hips and said, "Well, it seems our murderer is... *removes glasses* ...magically malicious."

5. I'm not gonna buy any of the new Motorola Droids. They're not the droids I'm looking for.

6. When I'm playing Yahtzee and someone's going for fours, I always say, "May the fours be with you."

7. It's a good thing there's not a battery company named "Red Shirt." Nobody would buy them because they die so quickly.

8. If Frodo was a ninja (and he could totally be one since he can go invisible) his motto could be, "Before you die, you see the Ring... of Power."

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Will Require Complete Silence For My Next Trick

We trained my son to be a heavy sleeper. I'd clap and yell when he was a baby and we'd leave the TV or the radio playing so he wouldn't require silence when he napped. We figured it was our house and he could get used to our noise level. And it worked out great. He sleeps through storms, loud visitors, and any time my clumsy self knocks over something ridiculous (coffee tables, brooms, drum sets). If you scream in his face, he'll wake up (tested and true). But general noise won't disturb him. And you can move him all over the place without him even twitching. So when he falls asleep on the couch, it's an easy transition to the bed.

But my daughter is a different story. Despite our best efforts to soundproof her, she still gets startled and awakened by small noises or any kind of movement (and I'm pretty sure my son's gas on occasion has reeked her awake). So one of the hardest things to do is move her when she's fallen asleep in the wrong place. You have to pick her up really slowly and then hold your breath while you tiptoe to the bed. Then you have to gently set her down and try to ease your arm out from under her. It's like a combination of the motion-sensor scene from Sneakers, those crazy people who kiss cobras on the head, and playing Operation.

And now that she's talking a lot more, it's starting to be a little funny. Last night I put her down and she mumbled, "No Daddy." She didn't open her eyes, and I didn't speak. So I'm not sure how she knew it was me moving her. But it took me 20 minutes to get her back to sleep.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Killing The Mood

When my kids do things that are embarrassing, it's sometimes embarrassing because of my immaturity rather than theirs. Last night at church services, there was an announcement about someone's uncle dying. And it was very quiet and everyone had that "what a tragedy" look on their face. And my daughter apparently recognized this as an opportunity to laugh extremely loudly at nothing. So the guy announcing it said something to the effect of "let's keep the family in mind this week." And in the silence that followed, there was a resounding "HA-HA!" from my one year-old.

And she didn't know what she was doing. She didn't understand the announcement or know what the quietness was about. In all honesty, she probably tooted or something and thought that was funny. But the reason it was embarrassing is because it made my wife and I laugh. And an adult laughing during a death announcement is downright tactless.

But it was one of those times where you know you're not supposed to laugh and you're absolutely horrified that you're laughing, but that just makes it all the more hilarious. Luckily we were able to laugh quietly so as not to break the somber mood. But it was still embarrassing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Always Curious To See How Long They'll Let Me Make My Post Titles. I'm Sure At Some Point They Have A Character Limit. This Is Ridiculous. Got It!

(I wonder if it's a blogging faux pas to start your post with a parenthetical thought.) I can't remember any funny stories today. If you know any good stories, feel free to email me at

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dancing Cheek To Cheek

We have this new video camera that we bought for the expressed purpose of recording our children. They do such funny things so often, and we really wanted to preserve such fun memories (for blackmail purposes when they're teenagers). But the problem we're having is that both of my kids know the camera is rolling. And for my daughter, that means she wants to get behind the camera and look at the screen. So we rarely get a video of her for more than a few seconds before she runs at the camera and can't be seen anymore. Most of her videos involve a lot of blank wall space with her talking right into the microphone.

My son has a different reaction. When he sees that red light on, he gets really shy all of a sudden. He'll go from singing his ABCs to biting his finger and looking away in two seconds if he knows he's being recorded. And we've tried tricking him into it. We've covered the red light. We've tried to hide the camera. We've even attempted bribery. But nothing we do will warm him up to it. However, we do have a lot of videos of him dancing and singing and being silly. And that's because there's one scenario when he's totally comfortable in front of the camera; when he's only wearing underwear. So ask him to sing and dance while he's fully clothed, and he'll look at his shoes and smile sheepishly. But ask him to take off his clothes and act like an idiot, and he'll immediately oblige.

The problem is that we don't want people to get the idea that our kids are never clothed. So we can't post a bunch of videos on Facebook of my son jumping around in his Batman briefs. So we just have to tell people about it, which is not as funny or cute. And the saddest part is that the more naked he gets, the more awesome his dance moves become. If he's wearing his Sunday best, he dances like Elaine on Seinfeld. But if he's stark naked, it's like watching a dance prodigy. And it's a good thing he's only 3 years old. If he were 17, this would be a real problem, and it wouldn't be on a blog post.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Top Ten Things I Learned While Playing A Board Game Called "Battle Of The Sexes"

10. Guys are smarter than girls.

9. The game is a lot of fun until one of the teams starts winning.

8. No matter what questions the girls get, they think the guys' questions are too easy.

7. No matter what questions the guys get, they think the girls' questions are stupid.

6. If the girls guess Babe Ruth for every baseball-related question, they'll get 70% of them right.

5. Knowing that aubergine is an eggplant will cause girls to make fun of you.

4. I know more about celebrities than I do about power tools.

3. Someone playing against us thought that the "R" in NASA stood for "Redneck." (Think about that for a minute.)

2. Someone playing against us didn't know what the number on a bra size means.

1. I do know what the number on a bra size means. (But it was a lucky guess.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Idle Hans

There's a guy I work with whose name is Hans (it's okay, because he's Dutch). And I don't know him very well, but I know he's kind of a jerk. I made an honest mistake one time and opened his office door before he said "Come in," and he flipped out on me and started telling me how rude I was and that "the door was closed for a reason." It was mean because it was my first week, and I didn't know the rules about office door opening. So I put him on my list (of people to kill avoid). And I'm not one to mistreat people, even if they're jerks. So I've never been discourteous or messed with him or anything like that. But I've gotten back at him in two ways.

First, I purposely mispronounce his last name. I don't do it to his face, and I've only said it to others a couple of times, but it's more about how I mispronounce it. Because his last name is Hoogerbrugge. (And no, that's not made up. That's really his name.) And I don't like to brag, but I'm pretty good at figuring out anagrams for things. The reason I don't like to brag about that is because I think I might have a touch of dyslexia. But it's only enough dyslexia to make me a slow reader, a great Scrabble player, and a pretty decent anagram finder. It's not really a super-power. It's more like a mediocre-power. At any rate, I noticed that an anagram for Hoogerbrugge is Booger Hugger. And that made me imagine him as someone who hugged giant boogers. So now, every time I see him, I think about him hugging giant boogers. And that makes me feel better about him being a tool.

And the second thing I did to get back at him was post this to my blog. Now people know that Hans Hoogerbrugge is kind of a jerk. And a total Booger Hugger.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Soul Patrol

I don't think it's so bad to watch too much TV. I think it's only bad when you watch too many commercials. And I didn't used to watch commercials. We used to have a DVR (which is an abbreviation for Doesn't Understand Acronyms). And I got used to that because we had it over a year. Then we cancelled satellite and went back to over-the-air broadcasts. And a part of my soul died (but that may have been a destroyed Horcrux - hard to tell). So now, we get the basic network channels on our antenna. They're HD, but there are only six of them. And we can't rewind, pause, fast-forward, or record anything anymore. That means if I want to watch a specific program... *gulp*... I actually have to be at home when it's on. I know, it's horrible. I feel like a peasant.

Anyway, commercials. It wasn't until this morning that I realized I watch too many of them. I passed a Kia Soul on the way into work this morning and was surprised not to see a giant hamster driving it. I mean, I genuinely expected to see a human-sized hamster behind the wheel. But it was just a guy in a really ugly car. And I was really, really disappointed.

The only solace I take is that commercials and other types of advertising don't have any real effect on me. I'm my own person, and I won't let the media get to me. Because I'm worth it, I think outside the bun, and I'm lovin' it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy some life insurance, Michelin tires, and the five-star crash-test-rated Chrysler Town and Country to prove that I care about my family.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You're So Money And You Don't Even Know It

When my wife and I were dating, she confessed that she liked Vince Vaughn. She didn't say she had a crush on him or she thought he was dreamy or anything like that. All she meant was that she liked the way he acted. Basically, she liked him the way I would say I like him. Well, I gave her a hard time about it by purposely misconstruing her comment. I faked being jealous and said how horrible it was that she would try to hold me to such an impossible standard. She knew I was kidding and it was all in good fun.

But one day, I mentioned to my dad that she "had a crush on Vince Vaughn." It was just an offhand comment to make her uncomfortable around him, but my dad didn't realize that. And my dad is weird. So he went to work the next day and emailed 45 color pictures of Vince Vaughn to his secretary and asked that she print them in color and put them all in a three-ring binder. Then, the next time we came to visit, he gave the binder to my wife (girlfriend at the time).

And two main things bothered me about that. First, it's weird that he decided to poke fun at her in that way. I can understand pointing out a Vince Vaughn movie on TV and saying, "Hey, there's your boyfriend!" And I can understand saying to me, "Sorry son, but you're no Vince Vaughn." But to print out a bunch of headshots and press clippings and give them in a binder is weird. And really creepy. But the second thing that bothers me is that he didn't explain to his secretary why he wanted 45 color photos of Vince Vaughn in a binder to take home with him. There's no telling what she thought about him after that. I imagine in her eyes, he went from pleasantly strange coworker to creepy celebrity stalker weirdo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Like Father, Like Son

There are certain times in my life as a father that words can't express how proud I am of my children. It's usually when I realize how much they've learned from us and how talented they're going to be. And that's when it really hits me how much their little lives mean. And how much they have yet to do that will amaze me.

Saturday afternoon, my son got his first flag score on Capture the Flag. I let him play Halo 3 with me while I was playing online with my brother. And I got him the flag. Then I let him run it into the base for the point. My brother provided cover-fire and I encouraged him (jumped up and down yelling "Go!") while he sprinted into the base. Then we celebrated with a high five. It was a profound moment in his young life.

But seriously, I thought that was pretty cool. He's three years old, after all. And assuming I don't stop playing video games completely in the next five or six years, we'll be able to play together for real pretty soon. That's kind of exciting. Sharing hobbies with my kids is one of those things that I'm really looking forward to. And who knows, maybe he'll pick up skydiving as a hobby. I've always wanted to try that.

Update: My brother wants some props for his excellent assistance. He was instrumental in the flag score. Please read his humble account in the comments section of this post.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Women: Scheming From Birth

My daughter has learned something that I didn't want her to learn. It's not exactly embarrassing, but it's an indication of how manipulative a girl can be at any age. Even at the age of one and a half. Every time my son does something she doesn't like, she screams like he just slapped her. And I found myself the other day starting to yell at my son when my daughter screamed. Even though I didn't even know what happened.

It turned out he was just playing with a toy that she wanted. And she learned some time ago that her brother gets in trouble and is forced to give her his stuff every time she screams about it. So she would see him playing with some awesome toy (because we only buy the most awesome of toys for our wonderful children) and she would immediately scream and start crying. Which is the exact same response she has when he pushes her or hits her. So my response was predictable enough for her to use it against me. That downright diabolical!

It reminds me of that Bill Cosby stand-up routine he does about giving the youngest child whatever they want just to shut them up. "Parents are not interested in justice! They want peace... and quiet!"

So now I've had to actually be a good parent and find out why she's screaming and if he hit her and what toy are they fighting over and the most important piece of information to any parent... who had it first?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Teaching Moments

One of the main jobs of being a parent is teaching your children. My wife is covering number, letters, shapes, words, and all that other educational stuff. I'm the pop culture teacher. That's why my son knows the lyrics to popular songs and can dance like a pro. And currently, there are three things I'm working on him saying.

First, every time we go somewhere for a get-together, I want him to say, "The party don't start 'til I walk in!" And he won't do it in front of people. He's embarrassed. And putting aside the annoyingness of that song, that would still be pretty funny.

Second, I want him to learn to stop when I tell him to stop. This is a real parenting goal inasmuch as I want him to stop running if he's about to run in front of a car or into a person's shins. But what I want him to do when I yell "Stop!" is to stop dead in his tracks, look at me with a grin, and say, "Hammer time!" Then I want him to do the MC Hammer dance. This is a work in progress. If he does it by the time he's 4, I will have succeeded.

Lastly, I want him to say adorably cute stuff at the best possible time. This is an overall goal I have for him, but he's already displaying a knack for comedic timing. Yesterday, my wife was "getting" Andrew (a.k.a. poking him and tickling him) and he stopped, stepped back, and said, "You wanna piece-a me?!" And I was so proud. We've been working on that one. Now I just have to get him to work on his mobster accent.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Worth A Thousand Words

The beginning of April always makes me think of sonograms. We had our first sonogram for each of our kids in the beginning of April. Plus, a lot of people like to use them as part of an April Fools joke on their parents. And I realized the other day that it's been four years since our first sonogram. And that's crazy because it doesn't feel like it's been that long.

Anyway, that reminded me of something that I must have repressed in the last four years. When we got our first sonogram, we scanned it and sent it to our parents. My mom emailed back and said thanks. My mother-in-law emailed back and said she already thought he was cute. But my dad went above and beyond. He sent the file to the printing people at work and asked them to blow it up to 24" by 36". I wasn't there for the conversation the printing people had, but I imagine it was weird ("Bill, did his email say he wanted us to blow up his grandchild?"). Then my dad posted the giant poster-sized sonogram on his cubicle wall and put up a banner above it that said, "Ask Me About My Grand-Fetus!"

So every person that stepped foot on his row saw a larger-than-life-sized black-and-white baby sitting on the wall. And my dad thought it was awesome. I'm sure his coworkers felt differently.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

They're Always Behind You! How Is That Not Creepy!

Maybe I watched the movie Ghost before I was ready. Or maybe I had a terrifying dream when I was little. I'm not really sure what makes me hate fictional shadows so much. But something about a shadow being able to do stuff just scares the wits out of me. Even the Disney cartoon version of Peter Pan had a shadow that was independent of him. It wasn't even sinister. But that creeped me out.

We were watching The Princess and the Frog last night for the first time. And the "mean guy" (as referred to by my son) had a shadow that acted independently of him. And then he unleashed evil minion shadows to chase after the "frog and the pretty frog" (as referred to by my son). My son was only mildly freaked out. He just didn't like the shadows. But I had a chill run through my veins and my hair stood on end. (And just to clarify... when I say "my hair," I'm referring to the danger-indicator hair that I had surgically implanted in the back of my neck. So I know what I'm talking about here.) So I had to play it cool as the "yucky dark monsters" (as referred to by me) went flying across my TV screen.

And I did pretty well. My son felt safe and I was able to talk him down from the particularly scary parts. But I did have a nightmare last night about being chased by my shadow. My danger-indicator hair saved my life again, though.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Work Makes Me Sick

I started going to a weekly meeting at work where I have to report the numbers for my work group. And as of last week, my work group consists of just me. So the responsibility for reporting the numbers and the responsibility for the reason behind the numbers falls solely on me.

So because of my crippling fear of public speaking and my crippling fear of getting in trouble at work, I was more nervous at that first meeting than I think I've ever been in my entire life. My hands were clammy, my heart was racing, and I kept swallowing and clearing my throat. I felt like Hugh Laurie was about to limp in the door and diagnose my weird symptoms.

But I managed to keep back the tears (and hold off from vomiting) long enough to read off my numbers. And the big bad boss (who scares me) just nodded and mumbled, "Good." So I survived another week. I hope he doesn't walk over to my desk right now. I think I'd have a heart attack if I got caught blogging at work.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cult Classic

I'm pretty sure I could start a cult. And it's not because I'm charismatic or that I have any crazy religious beliefs. I just believe that I have the skills necessary. Because it's all about easing people into an idea. You can't start day one with your full manifesto of crazy. That scares people away too easily. And the reason I believe I could do this is because I was able to convince my wife to date and eventually marry me. Even though she didn't even like me up to and including our first date.

So let me break it down a little bit. In the same way a cult recruiter couldn't mention the poisoned Kool-Aid on the first day, I had to avoid revealing any of my crazy personality traits. If I said, "Hey, I like you. But I also like Lord of the Rings and playing video games," then I would still be alone today. So I had to almost trick her into a relationship with me. And that takes skill. In fact, the only skill I think I had in getting the girl was hiding the fact that I didn't have any skills (you know... nunchuk skills, computer hacking skills). I have no obvious athletic prowess, I was too nervous to make legitimately funny jokes, I was losing my hair at age 19, and I wasn't exactly thin. And while that may seem like a list of insults, I think of it as one big compliment. Because I was able to snag a girl that was way out of my league. And I did it despite all those traits.

And the key is baby steps. I knew that Date Number One could not include any talk of my favorite TV shows or movies or anything to do with my hobbies. Because baseball card collecting never sounds cool. So I tried to be funny, but not weird. And it worked. I got the second date and kept luring her in with my charm (and she obviously loved my awesome 94 Geo Prizm).

So take it from me. If you're gonna go after someone who you think could eventually like you (or if you're gonna start a cult), ease them into your interests and hobbies (or your manifesto). And whatever you do, don't mention an affinity for interstellar travel, whether you think it's fact or fiction.