Thursday, September 30, 2010

No YOU'RE Immature!

One of my friends asked me after church last night how I liked the new Halo game. And all I could get out was, "Dude, I love it-" when an eleven-year old girl interrupted me.

She said, "Ugh, all I hear at school is stupid boys talking about how much they love Halo. And I still can't get away from it. And these are grown men!"

Now I'm not in favor of hitting other people's kids, but I see the temptation of it now. And in that moment, I realized why I will never become a teacher. Because I am not equipped to handle that kind of attitude. Call it what you want; sass, backtalk, prosecutor's evidence for my inevitable child abuse trial. But that kind of thing is just too much for me.

And I didn't know how to respond. I felt insulted, belittled, and mocked. And because she was eleven, it was amplified about 20 times. In the three seconds of silence that followed her little comment, I went through all the possible responses I could have used. They ranged from completely ignoring her to getting in a yelling match that ended in both of us crying. And I couldn't think of a single thing to say that wouldn't make me look like more of an idiot.  I wanted to respond like an adult, but I was finding it hard not to make a flatulent noise and call her a doodoo-head.

Because I'm a respectful adult (and since her parents were standing right there), I settled on muted indignation and self-deprecating humor (my old standby). I said, "Who says I'm a grown man? Don't let the beard fool you, young lady. I'm just a giant kid who loves video games."

Everyone laughed and I didn't look like a complete tool. But I still ended up feeling like a loser because of a girl who's younger than my car. It's weird that more than a decade after I leave junior high, the girls there can still make me feel stupid. (But I don't really care. Her feet are too big for her body, and those shoes did not match her top. It's whatevs.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Go. Do It Now.

I know I'm a nerd for liking The Amazing Race. I realize that I may be the only person my age who watches it. But I don't really care because it's quality entertainment. My only complaint is that thanks to CBS airing 60 Minutes right before The Amazing Race, I am now trained to get excited when I see Andy Rooney's face on my television.

But I don't care if you start watching it too. If you do, great. If not, no big deal. What I do care about is that you must this instant go to Youtube and search "amazing race watermelon." You'll see a clip that's about a minute long, posted by CBS. Trust me when I say it's well worth your time.

I'm hoping the rest of the season is as good as this clip. I wonder what fruit will be the enemy next week.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Some Things I Recently Realized

Apparently if you grow a beard, lose 5 pounds, and get a haircut, people will think you've lost a ton of weight. Because I saw one of my wife's aunts this past weekend and her first question was, "Taylor, how'd you lose so much weight?" And I just saw her like three weeks ago, so I know it's not one of those "I-haven't-seen-you-in-three-years-but-I-remember-you-being-a-lot-fatter" scenarios.

I am just as violent if awakened unexpectedly by children jumping on my back as I am if awakened by an older brother playing a prank on me. And my brother-in-law is not happy with the bruise my fist left on my nephew's cheek (though one could argue he had it coming with the way he landed knees-down on me at 7:00 in the morning on a Saturday).

If you tell people that your daughter's name, although spelled "Madeleine" is actually pronounced "Medallion" they'll believe you. They'll silently judge you, but they'll believe you.

Not everyone thinks it's as funny as I do that I put a McDonald's sticker on my Bible that says, "Double-Checked for Accuracy".

Referring to my wife as my "life partner" seems to be funny to everyone except my wife.

Blog post lists look better when sorted from longest paragraph to shortest.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Predicting It Now

I remember making a list of the top ten things that make my heart drop. And number one on that list (posted on this very blog on August 6th, 2009) was getting a phone call from my wife that starts with, "Okay, don't be mad…." And as it turns out, my heart can drop just as much when I read those same words in a text message. This message said, "Okay, don't be mad. But I dropped my iPhone and broke the screen."

And I had a different reaction than you might think. I wasn't angry or disappointed. My very first reaction was a tiny bit of excitement. It was closely followed by disappointment, but for one fleeting instant, I got excited because I knew what was going to happen in the near future.

I'm not one to hold a grudge, and I would never actually be mad at my wife for accidentally breaking something. So I'm not counting on some kind of cruel vindication or argument ammunition. But I'll earn some husband points without even trying.

See, what will happen is that my wife will apologize profusely for the next few days. And I will continuously wave it off because I'm honestly not concerned about it. The phone is functional; it's just not pretty anymore. And it's also not my phone. So nothing about that situation bothers me. But in my wife's eyes, I'll be a patient man who has graciously accepted her apology for the travesty of destroying an Apple product. And she'll love me for it.

Let me stress here that I won't be taking advantage of her misguided sense of appreciation. I'm not gonna milk it or make her feel bad. But I will be using it for a very specific purpose. At some point in the next two weeks, she'll mention the phone and how upset she is that she did it. And my response will be to ignore her repeated apologies and immediately say, "Hey, we should rent a movie tonight." And because her mind is still on the phone and how she's apparently let me down, she'll let me pick the movie! So I'll pick Robin Hood or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And for once, I won't have to fight for it.

I'm sure someone reading this thinks I'm joking. But I'm totally not. That is a huge win for me. I can't wait to see Russell Crowe hit someone with a flaming arrow or Hugh Jackman extend his computer-generated claws from his knuckles. And frankly, I don't know how I've gone this long without seeing the Wolverine movie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Big Shot For A Day (Well, An Hour)

Before I begin, I'd like to mention that today is my 300th blog post. Some of them have been reruns, others were guest posts, but today will be the 300th time I've posted something to this blog. In celebration of this nifty milestone, I will be sending AFWingMom the mousepad I owe her for the caption contest she won over a year ago (sorry about that, by the way). I will also eat a cookie. So on with the blogging!

My company is hosting their fall conference next month. And as part of the festivities, we're raffling off several cool prizes. Among them are an iPad, a Flip camera, a new iPod Nano, a digital camera, a Nintendo Wii, and two Amazon Kindles (no, you can't come). I'm not eligible to win these as it would look bad for me to win a sweet prize from my own company in front of all its investors. But the cool part is that I might get to go buy all these items with the company card. The Kindle will be purchased online, but I might get to walk into Best Buy and purchase 5 really awesome products and walk out like it was nothing. And for about 15 minutes, I'm gonna feel like I'm super rich and impulsive.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, because they haven't actually said that I'll get to do it. But I'm getting really excited. And I'm hoping I get to pay in cash so I can slap a wad of large bills onto the counter like a bigshot. And then I'll pretend to take a phone call and say things like "litigation" and "private jet" with a toothpick in my mouth. Okay, that might be too much. But I'm definitely wearing a suit that day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If You Play Your Cards Right

I got a $20 gift card to Exxon/Mobil recently for signing up with their Speedpass program. And it came in the mail last week. So during my lunch break yesterday, I went to pick up a few snacks. And I stood in the gas station for at least 15 minutes due to my indecision (I'm always torn between fresh fruit and vitamin water). So I finally made my decision and plopped the energy drink and Snickers ice cream bar on the counter. And as the attendant asked me if that was everything, I noticed the emblem on her shirt. It was an orange and yellow seashell with the word "Shell" written over it. It struck me how strange it was that a former Shell employee not only switched jobs within the gas station industry, but also was still allowed to wear her former employer's vest. I couldn't believe that Exxon would allow a competitor's logo to appear so blatantly in their store.

So I handed over my Exxon gift card while I pleasantly pondered this strange scenario. And I was very confused when the Exxon employee wearing the Shell uniform handed the card back and said, "We don't accept Exxon gift cards at Shell." I stood there with my mouth open, wanting desperately to understand. I was trying to form an argument for her obviously ridiculous statement.  I must have looked like a complete idiot. Then I compounded my idiocy. Instead of taking her word for it, I leaned over her counter to look outside the window at the awning above the gas pumps. And as I saw the Shell logo again, plastered right above my car on a 30-foot sign, the full realization of my stupidity hit me.

I mumbled something about being in the wrong place and apologized as I walked towards the door. It was only when my hand was pushing it open that I realized I was still holding the ice cream Snickers and an energy drink. So I glanced back at the glaring attendant and tried my best to look insane and lost as I walked back to the cooler.  I figured if she pitied me she might not judge me for my idiotic behavior. Then I drove across the street and checked four times to make sure it was an Exxon before handing over the card.

Monday, September 20, 2010

She Who Laughs Last

A few years ago, I was watching TV with some family members and The Tonight Show was on. And this was around the time that Britney Spears was having problems with Kevin Federline. It was a rough time in my life since I cared so much about those two. (If they can't make it, who can?!) Anyway, Jay Leno made a joke that I thought was pretty funny. He said, "There's news that Britney kicked Kevin out of the house. Which was actually pretty dangerous, because it was going about 65 miles an hour at the time." I think that's a pretty solid joke.

So all of my family laughed and it went to commercial. And about two minutes later, my little sister started laughing really hard. So we all turned to see if she was reading a magazine or something. But she wasn't. She was just sitting on the couch. And when she saw us all turn around, she stopped laughing really quick.

When we asked her what was so funny, she claimed that she remembered an inside joke with a friend and it made her laugh. But I knew better. So I called her out on it.

As it turns out, she had just gotten the joke about Britney Spears. And although she laughed along with everyone else when Jay Leno said it, she definitely didn't get it. So she sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out what the joke was implying and why a house would be moving at 65 miles an hour. And it took her two full minutes to figure it out!

So now, every time she laughs, I like to ask her if she really got the joke and then explain the punchline just in case.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I'm too tired, I don't have any good stories, and it's too late in the week.  So in lieu (that's right, lieu) of blogging, here's a new joke for you:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
I eat mop.

You know the rest.  Pretty funny, right?
Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's All About Sacrifice

Two nights ago, I played a video game with one of my older brothers for eight and a half hours. We played an hour before dinner and then straight through from 9:30pm to 5:00am. And because of the advent of today's online technologies, he didn't have to deal with my body odor, and I didn't have to deal with his heavy breathing (just kidding… I could hear his breathing on my headset). And we had a blast. But the catch is that I looked and felt like death yesterday (unshaven, dark circles under my bloodshot eyes, and muscle cramps in my trembling hands). I knew I'd regret staying up six hours past my bedtime, but I always seem to forget how bad it is to be that tired until it actually happens.

So what I did yesterday to combat the sleepiness was drink a week's supply of blue Rockstars and take frequent bathroom breaks to splash water on my face. But at about 2:30, I hit a wall. I couldn't stop rubbing my eyes and I found myself breathing with my mouth open (like one of my older brothers when he plays video games online).

Sidenote: I just reread those last two paragraphs, and it sounds like the beginning of a story about how I started abusing amphetamines.

Anyway, I made it through the rest of the day without keeling over or taking a nap. And I'm really proud of that. In fact, I felt so good that I stayed up until midnight playing even more last night. And in case you're wondering, yes… that game is Halo: Reach. And it's awesome.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It Figures

So as it turns out, it's not as much fun driving a 1993 Acura Legend as I thought it was. I don't mind the shimmying when I stop because it feels like a gentle massage. And I don't mind the speakers being blown because I should probably lower my volume most of the time anyway. But the problem with driving a car that hasn't run in over a year is that the safety inspection sticker and state registration sticker have both been expired for over a year. And when your car has two plainly-visible expiration dates on the windshield as you drive past a patrolling officer on the highway, he sees them. And he pulls you over. And he doesn't care that you just got the car working a week ago. That doesn't impress him at all. And he doesn't care that you can't afford the repairs needed to get it inspected. And he gets upset that you haven't updated the address information on your license in two years. And he definitely doesn't cut you a break. Because, obviously, anyone who can afford the luxury of a 1993 Acura Legend can surely afford to fix the car up and pay for three traffic citations.

So I guess this is what I get for bragging about my car yesterday. I got cocky because my wife didn't have to drive me to work anymore. So Karma needed to put me back in my place. Pride comes before the fall, so they say. And I know that now.

So does anyone know of a state inspection place in Texas that will pass a car with a broken turn signal, a partially-shattered windshield, and three maintenance lights flashing on the dashboard? Because I could really use a place like that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I've driven more than my fair share of junky cars.  My first car was a 1994 Geo Prizm with less resale value than a used Twix wrapper.  In college I drove a 1997 Chevy Blazer without air conditioning or any mirrors.  And as recently as last year I drove a 1995 Ford Bronco with two steering wheels. (Okay, that was kind of awesome.) And I was proud to drive those cars.  Not because I'm a glutton for punishment, but because it makes for a lot of fun stories.  Plus I never had to worry about scratches or dents or dings (or duct tape repairs).

My newest addition to the list is no exception.  I am now the proud owner of a 1993 Acura Legend.  As is the case with all the other cars, the main reason I drive the Legend is its price.  And that price was nothing.  I will always choose a free car that embarrasses my wife over a car I can't afford that saves my ego (dignity is way overrated anyway).

But I'm particularly proud of this car.  Because I actually had a hand in fixing it up.  With the help of my father-in-law and a detailed repair book, we replaced the fuel injection o-rings and cushion rings, replaced the battery, and used duct tape as a substitute for the rubber stopper under the brake light switch that had dry-rotted over the last 9 months.  And the day before doing that, I could only have identified the battery among those parts.

I have absolutely no knowledge of cars.  My automotive expertise extends as far as what I learn from Adam Savage's side notes on Mythbusters.  I couldn't tell you the difference between a piston and a valve or the difference between an axle and a strut.  But I can follow instructions.  So I spent a good four hours under the hood, on the ground, and upside-down replacing fuses and slicing up my knuckles on the brake pedal mechanics.  And we got a car running that wasn't running at the beginning of the day.  So if I can't take pride in my ride, at least I can take pride in making it my ride.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Keep It Clean

One of my older brothers is a KISS fanatic. Not the kind that paints his face and wears 10-inch platform chrome boots, but close. In fact, I think his KISS budget is the only thing holding him back from that level of commitment. And today he asked a few of his friends, including me, to help him win tickets from a radio station to an upcoming KISS show. And he actually won them! It was pretty crazy because I didn't think it was possible. But he was the seventh caller and he gets to pick up the tickets next week.

But the real story here is what happened when the radio lady picked up the line. Because the first thing she said was, "Are you sexy? Because only sexy people can win these tickets." Dumbstruck by the possibility of winning tickets and probably a little confused by that extremely weird question, he said, "Uh, yeah. I'm sexy." To which she replied, "Prove it."

And I'm not sure what I would say in that situation. Probably something safe, like, "I'm a KISS fan. And we're all sexy." That would make it a little less awkward and we could move on to the ticket winning. But my older brother didn't go that route. He immediately said, "Well, I'm wearing a raccoon skin thong right now. That's pretty sexy. So what are you wearing?" And he delivered that response with such a creepy tone that I forgot what we were doing. And the radio lady didn't even laugh. She just asked for his information and got off the phone.

And what concerns me most is not the simple fact that he responded that way. People say weird stuff when they're put on the spot. What concerns me is the speed at which he came up with that response. It wasn't even a full second between "prove it" and "raccoon skin thong." And those words sounded too familiar to him to be off the top of his head. It was like he was either already thinking about that, or he's had some experience with that type of undergarment. Either way, I'm creeped out by it.

But now it falls to me to find a good nickname for him. I need to be able to repeat it around everyone without being inappropriate, but I also want it to be clever and funny. So does anyone have a good nickname suggestion? Someone already suggested "Davy Crockett", but that's too obvious and not very clever.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Once a month, my employer has a company meeting to discuss everyone's status from the previous month. So each of the 20 or so employees takes a turn giving their numbers and doing a little justifiable bragging. But it's nerve-racking for me because of my crippling fear of public speaking. Especially when I can see my turn coming in advance. I just sit there and countdown (6 people until I have to talk, 5 people until I have to talk), and I drive myself crazy while my angst crescendos into a mountainous stomachache of nervous apprehension (yes, it's that bad). I hate talking in front of people, even people I know. I'm terrified that I'll say something stupid or my eyes will start watering due to the stress (some people might call that crying).

So yesterday we had that meeting. And I got that horrifying feeling again as my turn approached. But then, just as the coworker next to me finished up her summary, there was a crash across the room. One of our managers had passed out and fallen out of his chair by the back wall. And then he started shaking. And after the longest 15 seconds I've ever had at work, he was helped up to a sitting position and asked the people around him what had happened.

Apparently he'd worked out yesterday morning for an hour and skipped breakfast. And instead of drinking water, he drank coffee. So he was dehydrated and his body just shut down on him. It was very scary.

And since I'm self-absorbed and this is my blog, I'd like to make this story about me now. And you aren't allowed to get upset because a) you don't know him, b) he's fine, and c) I'll delete your negative comments if I have to. Anyway, I realized something about myself as he was being helped up. I realized that I have matured as a person. Because I thought of at least four jokes I could have said to break the tension ("Tricky dismount, but he really nailed the landing."), but I didn't say any of them. I consciously made the decision to let someone else make the first joke. And someone else did. It was lame ("That's one way to get out of a meeting."), but it wasn't me who said it. That's personal growth, people!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Older Brother Is Watching You

I'm reading a series of books right now called The Hunger Games.  And they take place in a dystopian post-apocalyptic world (like 1984, Fahrenheit 451, or Wall-E). And it's messing with my brain a little bit here. I keep thinking that machines are monitoring me to make sure I'm working. And I keep assuming that anyone in authority is secretly watching me for signs that I'll start an uprising.

It's not so bad in the morning because I read during my lunch break. But my afternoons are wrought with baseless paranoia. And it's starting to make me a little crazy.  When you add in my 2:30 cup of coffee, I'm downright jumpy. I keep looking over my shoulder, and I'm easily startled by sudden noises.

And the really weird part is that I'm not even doing anything wrong. I'm actually doing my work. But I feel like I'll leave work one day and three men in black suits are going to apprehend me and I'll disappear forever without a trace.

What I'm trying to say is this: Just because they call it "young-adult" fiction, that doesn't mean it won't mess with your mind if you're actually six years past the "young-adult" demographic range.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dance, Dance Imitation

The biggest boost to my ego these days (besides comments on my blog posts) is compliments I get about my children. I never imagined that someone could make my day so easily just by saying, "She talks really well for her age." or "He's only three?! Wow, he's tall!" Not that we really had anything to do with either of those things. We haven't been secretly taking my daughter to toddler linguistics classes or sneaking my son injections of HGH. And while it's true that they get their intelligence from my wife and their height from me, we can't really take any credit for any of that. It's really just genetics.

But my son did start picking up on something I can take credit for. He's developed quite a talent for dancing (to Justin Bieber songs, mostly). And my wife posted a video of this on Facebook for all of our friends to see. Well, 650 of her friends and 140 of mine (she's way more popular than me). All the comments were either "that's so cute" comments or "where did he learn that?" comments. And I'll gladly take credit for his dance moves. He's definitely never seen his mother dance (neither have I for that matter). And I dance around with my kids all the time. So I know he picked up his moves from me.

The reason this boosts my ego so much is because I've never shown anyone my dancing abilities, outside of my immediate family. (Nor will I ever show anyone.) So the only way I can get a compliment for them is by having my son emulate them. It's a good way to get constructive criticism without the risk of embarrassment. So all 19 comments saying how awesome the video is (17 from her friends, 2 from my friends) might as well be saying how awesome I am. And that is definitely a boost to my ego.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Capitalization, Mispellings And grammar

Yesterday, my older brother was trying to say that someone was "adamant" about something. But he said that the person was "inanimate" about it instead. And he was talking in front of several people, so I decided not to make fun of him or sarcastically ask him what he thought "inanimate" meant. But I only barely held back. I had the insulting response ready to go when I realized how mean it would be. And the reason I held back is because I realized that I make more than my fair share of stupid mistakes. I sometimes capitalize the wrong words in titles (like every one of my blog posts). And I will often mispell a word without realizing it. And just this week I inadvertently mixed up the use of "their" and "there" (twice, actually) in a blog post. And I was called out by an anonymous German linguist who obviously has my best grammatical interests at heart.

So I think I've learned two valuable lessons. Always trust anonymous German people on the internet, and always assume that people are mispelling words on purpose to be ironic. Oh, and if you want more comments on your blog, all you have to do is make an obvious grammatical mistake (or two of them). Okay, so I guess I learned three valuable lessons.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don't Work Where You Eat

The person who designed my company's breakroom must be related the guy who designed the "combimouse". Because they're both terribly-designed. Our breakroom is a square room where three of the walls have stuff on them that people need. One wall has the coffee maker, trash can, and utensil cabinets. The next wall has the sink, the refrigerator, and the coffee supplies. The next wall has a doorway to the next room. So if you're in there eating lunch, people are bustling about and weaving in and out of the tables like it's Grand Central Station or something. And you have the feeling that you're always being watched (or slowly being surrounded).

One of the main reasons I stream videos on my laptop during lunch is because wearing headphones make it acceptable to completely ignore people. In fact, even if I'm just checking my email or reading something online, I wear my headphones and smile occasionally to make people think that I'm watching something (like a video of the combimouse in action). And if I hear someone talking, I fight the urge to look up at them. But today I couldn't even do that. Because I forgot to charge my laptop last night and it was running on reserve battery power. And in any other room in the country, I would just plug in the power adapter and continue with my lunch. But our ridiculous breakroom only has one usable power outlet. And it's on the wall between the sink and the refrigerator, underneath the microwave. So I would have to pull up a chair to the counter and use my laptop there. And since that's not an option, I was forced to actually talk to people today.

It was horrifying. I had to pretend to know something about one coworker's college football team (and then pretend to care). Then I was sucked into a work-related conversation about client emails. During lunch! Hearing people discuss work while on your lunch break and then being asked your opinion about their conversation is America's greatest flaw. In Spain, you can be shot for mentioning work during lunch. And in Luxembourg, coworkers who try to discuss work during lunch are put in the stocks for 3 days. Not a bad system actually. We should bring the stocks back.