Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Still Good!

I'm not a smoker. I've never had the desire to smoke, and I've never understood its appeal. The D.A.R.E. program was a waste of money on me because there was never a chance I would be tempted to smoke. And no one I've ever known has been a smoker either. I'm telling you all this because I want you to understand how little I know about smoking. So when I tell this story, it may actually be that I'm the weird one (although I seriously doubt it).

My wife and I were standing in line last week for a Black Friday event. To be specific, we were standing in line outside of Old Navy to get one of the free Xbox Kinect games they were giving out if you made a $25 purchase (we got two of them, by the way). So it was about 15 minutes before the doors were supposed to open, and an employee walked out to get something from their car. Of the 150 people in line, 149 of us realized the store was not opening early. But one lady, who was out of line to smoke a cigarette, panicked when she saw the doors open. She thought for sure they were opening early, so she threw her newly-lit cigarette to the ground and scurried back into the line as quickly as she could. Then she realized it was a false alarm. She laughed at herself a little bit and got a little embarrassed. Then she did something I didn't expect.

She walked back over to where she'd been smoking and started searching the ground for her cigarette. Then she found it, brushed it off, and put it back in her mouth. Then she said, "Hey… five second rule, right?! Ha!" And all the people in her group laughed. The other 144 of us stood in horrified silence.

Again, I don't have any experience in the area of smoking. So maybe this is normal for smokers. But it was new to me. And I was not able to fathom it. Because in my opinion, even the official five-second rule is deemed invalid when you're outdoors. If I drop something edible onto the cement outside a retail store where 150 people are standing, it's no longer edible. There's no way something that touched the ground is going in my mouth.  The only exception I can think of would be if I dropped the antidote to a poison in my system. And even then, I would hesitate. But a cigarette that you've already put in your mouth? If that hits the ground, it'll have that layer of germ-collecting saliva on it that kicks up the nastiness to all new levels.

In conclusion: Smoking is gross. And secondhand smoke is inconsiderate. But a five-second rule on a used cigarette is simply unacceptable.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Falling For Fall

I took eight steps down the stairs this morning.  Unfortunately, our stairs have 9 steps.  So I dropped 8 inches on the last step and fell forward, twisting my ankle and tearing a hole in my jeans.  Luckily my wife was there to help.  And by "help" I mean "laugh at me."  I disappeared from her view completely in a terrifying instant of panic.  And her response was uproarious laughter.  She thought it was absolutely hilarious.  She started chuckling before I even resurfaced.  And before she even knew I was still conscious.  Then she immediately called her sister to tell her all about it.

On a lighter note, I now have a reason to get new jeans at Old Navy on Black Friday for $15!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crazy Cruise

My older brother went on a Caribbean cruise last year. And for some reason, he thought that an appropriate carry-on item for his cruise was his trumpet (he plays with a community orchestra). I think he figured that being out of town for a week was no excuse to miss out on practicing. And this didn't seem unusual to him. In fact, when he came back in town and told us about his trip, he turned it into a complaint about someone else.

He was in the middle of telling us about the activities they had on the cruise, and he stopped to say the following:

"You know, there was one crazy guy that almost ruined the whole trip for me. On the third morning, I got up and had breakfast. And then I went back to my room to practice a little bit."
I stopped him at this point and asked him what he was practicing.
"My trumpet."
My brother didn't seem to notice my dumbfounded look, so he continued.
"So it was at least 8:30 when I finished breakfast. So I went back to my room and started practicing. And after a few minutes my phone rang. It was a cruise employee asking me to stop playing my trumpet because it was waking up my neighbors! So this idiot (probably hungover because he got wasted the night before) stopped me from playing because I was waking him up! Can you believe the nerve of that guy?"

And believe me when I tell you that my brother was not lying, being ironic, or trying to be funny. He honestly thought the other guy was the weirdo. So he had to limit his practices to the early afternoon from that point on and keep them under 20 minutes.

The two things that bother me about this should be pretty obvious. First, why wouldn't you know that playing your trumpet in the morning on a cruise ship would disturb others? That seems like such common sense. And second, why such a high level of dedication to a community orchestra? I could almost make an exception for a world-renown trumpet player practicing on a cruise ship. But I would doubt that even a famous trumpeter would bother to practice while he's on vacation on a floating apartment complex. There's no way that playing an instrument is more fun than being on a Caribbean cruise.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Gotta Remember That One

My older brother had his yearly review at work recently. And his boss told him that he might want to work on how he takes constructive criticism. My brother should have graciously accepted this criticism and pledged to work on it. But my brother finds it too hard to pass up an opportunity like that. So, the hilarious comedian that he is, my brother decided it would be funnier to respond with a joke. So he told his boss to "shove it."

Needless to say, that didn't go over very well. He had to backtrack pretty quickly and explain to his boss that he was merely making an ill-timed joke and he didn't really mean for him to shove anything. But his boss didn't find it as humorous as one would have hoped, so the yearly review was wrapped up quite nicely with a written warning.

I think my older brother learned a valuable lesson that day. And I learned a really good response if someone ever tells me I should work on accepting criticism.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ew, Gross

You learn a lot about yourself when you're stuck standing in line for hours at a time it a courthouse without a smartphone, iPod, iPad, laptop, or book. I learned that I get bored very quickly. But more importantly, you learn a lot about other people. For example, you learn that someone with 7-inch fingernails can still use a touchscreen phone. I learned that because she was standing entirely too close to me and one of her nasty, craggy nails almost touched me.

I also learned that people do not dress up to go to the courthouse. It was like the worst casual day ever. I saw more cutoff jean shorts and fewer shoes than a homeless person convention (if that doesn't exist, it should).

Anyway, I've vowed to myself to never set foot in another courthouse without at least a book to keep my attention. I would hate to go through that again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Can Explain!

I have a good reason for not posting yesterday. The car my brother gave me (the 1993 Acura Legend) is overdue for its vehicle registration and state inspection (about a year and a half overdue). And I have to get both of those done because I have two outstanding tickets for driving with expired tags, and I've been warned that it qualifies as an abandoned vehicle if I park it anywhere outside of my garage. But before I can get the registration done, I have to transfer the title to my name from my older brother. And before I can get the inspection done, I have to get the blinker bulb replaced and get the Check Engine light to turn off. So I took off work yesterday and headed to the tax office in the courthouse.

After waiting in line for 30 minutes, I saw the sign (that I think should be posted on the front door) that said they only accept checks or cash. So I got out of line and got cash from the ATM in the hallway. Then I got back in line (in the back). After another 45 minutes of waiting, I finally made it to the counter. I laid out my five completed pieces of paperwork (proof of insurance, application for title transfer, the title itself, affidavit of vehicle gift transfer, and a signed explanation from my older brother as to why the title had the wrong name on it). That's when the super-helpful government employee told me that I was missing a photocopy of my older brother's driver's license.

So I got back out of line, called my brother, had him email me a scan of his license from his office in Chicago, found a Starbucks to get WiFi, downloaded the scan to a flash drive, located a FedEx, printed the license scan, ignored the four fast food restaurants I was passing at 2:15pm, and went back to the tax office, where the line was longer than ever. So I waited over an hour and got back to the counter to speak to a different super-helpful government employee. And she said that I had every bit of paperwork I needed to transfer the title and get the registration. I was so happy that I could have cried. Then she told me that she couldn't accept an affidavit of vehicle gift transfer that was a photocopy. I politely explained that I had to fax the affidavit to and from Chicago to get my brother's notarized signature, but she was disinclined to acquiesce my request (means "no"). That's when I actually cried.

Then I drove home and attempted in vain to fix the blinker and the Check Engine light. I gave up when I realized I had no idea what I was doing, and I had my head positioned directly below a two-ton vehicle sitting on a 17-year old jack. So, to recap, I took off work to get registration and inspection, and after 4 hours in the tax office and 3 hours working in my garage, I'm no closer to getting that done. The only bright spot was that I got free tacos from Jack in the Box when I finally had time to get lunch at 3:30 in the afternoon. Anyway, that's my excuse for not posting. Good enough?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lawnmower Man

My older brother and I were put to work early in our house. We weren't required to keep a neat room, but it had to be clean. And we didn't have to do our own laundry, but we were expected to fold it and take it to our rooms. So you couldn't really say that we helped out around the house, but we had certain responsibilities as I can remember. And one responsibility that my father was thrilled to pass on to us was mowing the yard. I think my fundamental hatred of mowing must have been passed down through my bloodline. Because I despise mowing. And my older brother is the same way. And only someone who hates it as much as I do would pass it on to his sons so early in life.

Well we took turns mowing after we hit about 12 years old. And I'm pretty sure we'd be mowing from age 2 if my dad could find a mower low enough for us to push. And we whined and complained about the mowing at every turn (almost literally). Texas summers can get a little hot and we weren't exactly thin children. So what we did was try to make it fun. My way of doing this was to gather up as many pine cones and sticks as I could and line them up in a row. Then I'd run over them and listen as the lawnmower demolished them into tiny bits. I did this every time I mowed until the day one of the larger sticks (most people call them branches) threw a large chunk at my uncovered (and untanned) shin. That was the last time I purposefully ran over anything with the mower.

My older brother had a different strategy for making mowing fun. He tried to see how loud he could yell until he could hear it over the noise of the mower. So he would send out a scream every few seconds until he realized he was louder than the mower. This was fun for him. But what he didn't realize is that his screams were not drowned out by the mower if you were more than three feet away.

So one Saturday afternoon, I was inside the house playing Diddy Kong Racing on Nintendo 64 (or maybe GoldenEye or Perfect Dark… I can't remember exactly). And I heard a lawnmower accompanied by the screams of a 12-year old. And my parents heard it too. So while I assumed my brother was being an idiot, they assumed my brother was being eaten and/or dragged by a possessed lawnmower. So they ran outside simultaneously to see what was wrong. And I think that was the day they would have picked a physically-injured, mentally-capable child over a physically-capable, mentally-weird child. And I assume that's also the day I became their favorite son.

Friday, November 12, 2010

False Hope Is Still Hope

I went ahead and shaved my beard after Halloween. It was getting out of hand, and my nickname ("Grizz") seemed like it had stuck. So I chanced it. But before I shaved it off completely, I decided to shave a totally different facial hair configuration. So I left some long, pointy sideburns, left the long tuft of hair under my bottom lip, left the hair on my chin, and left my disgusting excuse for a mustache. Then I sucked in my cheeks and took a picture of myself with my wife's iPhone. Then I sent it to my older brother.

The problem that I didn't think of is that the iPhone's camera can sometimes distort pictures and make everything look taller (and thinner). And when you couple that with the fact that I was doing my best Zoolander impression, it made me look way thinner than I am (or ever have been). So my older brother, who I don't see very often, saw the picture and assumed I'd dropped about 40 pounds.

Well, I'm not one to disappoint people, so I didn't correct him. I let him think I'd lost all that weight. And I figure I can get to that point before I see him again. He doesn't read this blog, so I'm not worried about that. And I don't put a lot of pictures of myself on Facebook, so I think I can pull it off. Now I just have to lose about 40 pounds. I probably won't see him until the beginning of next year. I think if I try to stick to a strict diet (of water), then I might be able to do it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Classic Post: Parental Thesaurus

I don't have time today to write a new post, so I'm gonna repost.  But instead of highlighting my laziness, we'll just call it a "classic post."

Being a parent is just as awesome and satisfying a job as people told me it would be. And it's just as frustrating and difficult as my parents claimed it was when I was a kid. But what I've really been surprised about is the little perks that come with being a parent. Perks like the ability to ignore conventional medical wisdom and wipe my son's nose with my hand and rub it on the grass. Or the new ability my wife and I have to hold a child in one arm, keep the other kid back with a foot, and take a casserole out of the oven without burning anyone. But, by far the best unforeseen perk is the training we've been getting as game night competitors.

Let me explain. My family and I had family game night growing up. It wasn't always official or planned, but we'd play all the board games and party games we could think of. We played Taboo, Charades, Pictionary, Stratego, Boggle, Life, Scrabble, Skip Bo, Uno, and Yahtzee to name a few. Yeah, we were complete and total nerds (that's not even a comprehensive list by the way). But I think I would be even better at some of those games now because of being a parent. I know I'd be better at Pictionary because I have to draw stuff for my son now. And if you can get a two-year old to figure out that you're drawing an elephant, it's perfect training for Pictionary. My stick figures don't cut it anymore, so I've graduated to advanced figure drawing, level 2. Which means I am able to draw non-stick people figures who don't have distorted faces or hands (most of the time). And I've even better at Charades and Scrabble. Because there are certain words we don't/can't/shouldn't say in front of my son now because he can repeat anything he hears. We don't use bad language, but certain things are inappropriate for a toddler. And it's a lot easier to stop my son using the term "stupid-head" if we stop saying it altogether. And it's only funny to hear him say "that's stupid" when we're at home. Not so much when we're at church. So we've learned to spell naughty words really fast so he doesn't hear them. Hence the new Scrabble skills (although, to be honest, I was already an excellent Scrabbler). And the Charades come in handy when we're too tired to spell multiple words. That way, if we want to ask the other spouse if it's okay for him to "go outside" and play with a "ball" or if he can have one more "cookie" before we "go to the store", we don't have to sound like a spelling bee on fast-forward. We can just use gestures and motions, and he's none the wiser.

But my favorite is the Taboo training. Because we have to find the strangest ways to say stuff. This weekend, my son was feeling a little sick. And I wanted to ask my wife if we had any children's Tylenol with us. But my son knows the words "Tylenol" and "medicine" and the phrase "give to Andrew". So I found myself saying, "Honey, do we have any... uh... toddler's pain reliever to give to... our male offspring?" And we have to do this all the time. Because I'd rather him not see me eat dessert at 4:30 in the afternoon or even hear me ask for it. So the other day I had to ask my wife if we had any "non-vanilla baked good with buttercream topping" (chocolate cake) left over. And then if we had any "frozen dairy baked goods companion" (ice cream) in the freezer. Then I had to eat it alone in the garage so he couldn't find me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Start A Revolution From My Blog

Violent behavior does not run in my family. We're pretty passive people for the most part. I can't remember ever getting in a physical altercation with a person. So I take that to mean that I'm either really good at repressing memories, I have a Mr. Hyde-like alter ego, or I simply don't get violent. And my older brother is the same way. We're good at chickening out and walking away from a fight.

Well a few years ago my older brother went to Disney World and almost got into a fight with what he called "some jerks from New Jersey." He said he was within 3 seconds of punching one of them in the face. Apparently, they were all getting on the bus that takes you from the park to your on-site resort. And since the bus was crowded, it was taking people a longer time to get on the bus. And a couple of loud, obnoxious guys with slicked back black hair and ridiculous clothing started shoving their way onto the bus because they wanted to ensure they got in. On their way in, they shoved my brother's wife almost to the floor. So there was an exchange of some terse words and the two morons declined to apologize. In fact, they further defended their actions, stating that "she shouldn't have been in the way." So I can understand why my brother almost came to blows with those two. Luckily, his wife was there to calm him down and help resolve the situation peacefully (she carries pepper spray).

And now that I think about it, I realize that people like those two idiots now have their own TV show!  Moronic, egotistical thugs with those attitudes (and those jacked up fashion senses) have now been convinced of their own superiority due to misguided public attention and corporate greed. So I've decided to completely boycott their show. And I'll be campaigning for it to be taken off the air. So join me in my quest to get these idiots off the air. Let's all band together and get rid of iCarly!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That's Odd... DUN DUN DUN!

I'm not a big fan of scary movies. I can handle the content, I just don't enjoy being scared or surprised. I'd rather be intrigued and slightly freaked out (M. Night Shyamalan) than jump out of my seat every 20 minutes (Wes Craven). But my older brother loves scary movies. And he always dragged me to the theatre with him as a kid to watch them.

Anyway, my wife and kids are out of town for a few days. And that leaves me in an empty, depressing house while they're away. And I don't like life without my wife and kids. One of the really awesome perks of having a family is that you don't have to sit in a dark house alone all the time. And another perk is that when your family is around, little weird noises don't freak you out. They're easily explained.

Well yesterday, I came home from work to my sad, empty house. I changed clothes and used the restroom like normal, but when I came out of the bathroom I heard a noise down the hall. I knew I hadn't turned the TV on when I walked in, so it confused me. I followed the noise down the hall and realized it was coming from my kids' playroom. So I opened the door and found that one of their toys (pictured below) was giggling and playing music.

And my older brother dragged me to enough scary movies to know that if a child's toy starts making noise by itself for no obvious reason, the toy will most likely attempt to kill you. So I did what any future victim of a possessed toy would do. I turned off the toy, frowned slightly, and said "hmm." Then I shrugged and walked out of the room.  If I'm gonna die, I might as well play along.

So if this is the last you hear from me, make sure that M. Night Shyamalan writes the screenplay about what happened to me… and not Wes Craven.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reinventing The Wheel

I don't know if it's taboo to brag about yourself on your own blog. But I think if I'm gonna brag, it's gonna be to people who don't know me very well. After all, a blog is supposed to be like a public diary, right? (Not to be confused with "public diarrhea," although some blogs are equally as embarrassing.) So although in this post I'll be sticking with my "older brother" cover story, I'm okay with saying that this one is about me and how awesome I obviously am.

So my older brother was reading Yahoo today and saw a story about Wheel of Fortune.  It was a story and video about a contestant who solved a 27-letter, 7-word puzzle with just one letter. And he took that as a challenge to see how good a Wheel player he was. So he stopped the video before the lady guessed the correct answer and tried to figure it out on his own. And he's proud to say that he figured it out in less than 15 seconds (about the same amount of time the contestant had).

So if you fancy yourself a good Wheel player, or if you're curious to see how good I am… I mean how good he is, then click HERE.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spiders And Roller Skates

My older brother knows all of my weaknesses.  He knows I can't dribble with my left hand in basketball.  He knows I can't resist free donuts.  He keeps a thought bank of anything he can use against me.  So two things I've been careful not to tell him are what I'm truly afraid of and what songs get stuck in my head easily.

Well I accidentally told him a few years ago about my crippling fear of spiders.  So now he goes out of his way to point them out to me.  And it's not just that.  He also successfully tricks me into believing they're on my clothes all the time.  And he never fails because he knows I won't take the chance that he's kidding.  So all he has to say is, "Taylor, don't move.  There's a spider on your knee."  And he knows I'll go into a frenzied quickstep that includes leg-slapping and girly screams to make sure the spider doesn't stay there.

That doesn't bother me as much because I know he'll never physically pick up a spider and put it on me (although just typing that sentence gave me the chills).  But I made another mistake recently and let him overhear a conversation I was having with a friend about songs that get stuck in my head.  And I mentioned that stupid roller skate song from that HP printer commercial ("I gotta brand new pair of roller skates, you gotta brand new key!").  I don't even hate the song.  But once I hear it, it stays in my head for days on end.

So my older brother has been calling me and singing that line from the song and then hanging up.  And he's figured out how to leave voicemails for me without calling.  So I get a voicemail that doesn't accompany a missed call and when I check it, I hear the song again.  I can't get away from it.  And I keep substituting words into the song in the context of my life ("I gotta brand new gaming headset that you're gonna have to see!" -or- "I'm gonna get some coffee and I think it's gonna make me pee!").  And now that I've written this post, I have to go find another song to get in my head.  Because this one is slowly killing me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wittier And Wiser Older Brother

My older brother should be a t-shirt or bumper sticker designer. Currently, he's wasting his talents on his Facebook statuses. But he has a knack for coming up with clever lines and funny ideas. Here's a sampling:

His Facebook Statuses
"Parenting Lesson #264: A high five is not a good way to congratulate your four-year old son for remembering to cover his mouth when he sneezes."
"I'm fat. Don't try to sugar-coat it, because I'll eat that too."

His Bumpersticker Ideas
"ADWL - Dyslexics Who Like Acronyms"
"I never mispell."

His T-shirt Idea
Front of the shirt:
"Proud member of the 'Guys Who Are Too Fat To Wear Shirts With A Lot Of Writing On Them Because The Shirt Is Never Flat Enough To Read It All At Once And You Can't Read The Whole Thing As You Drive Past Them At The Bus Stop' Club"
Back of the shirt:

(And I realize that he may have stolen some of these ideas.  So don't blame me if you've heard it before.  Blame my older brother for being a liar.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'd like to apologize to my four loyal blog followers (Mom, Landry, Jill, and my cyberstalker).  I haven't been diligent in my blogging duties recently.  And very few of my posts have had any reference to my "older brothers," which was the sole purpose in starting this blog (besides shameless self-promotion and thinly-veiled narcissism).

So I'd like to express my deepest apologies to the four of you... I'm sorry, what was that?  You say my mom only reads occasionally?  And she only reads my blog when she knows she's gonna see me soon and she needs to find something to talk about with me?  Fair enough.  Then I'd like to express my deepest apologies to the three of you.

I don't have any good excuses.  And frankly, I don't owe you an explanation!  But I've been spending my lunch breaks watching installments of movies I've missed in the past 6 years (Cloverfield, Van Helsing, etc.).  So I haven't saved time to write a blog post.  And I know I'm not gonna blog when I get home unless I'm super-bored with TV programming and internet surfing.

So to my two remaining loyal followers (I realize that by admitting I watched Van Helsing, I've probably lost Jill), I pledge better stories and more consistent posting.  I'll shoot for a post every weekday afternoon now.  But also know that if I can't think of anything funny, it's better that I don't post.  Nobody likes a poorly-written, hastily-finished, obligatory blog post.  It's like mandatory community service.  If you don't mean it, it doesn't mean anything.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Maybe Someday

I've got an idea for a new TV show.  We can call it "Dancing Without the Stars" and you can call it awesome.  The thing that would make it awesome would be that the weight limit for the contestants would be 250 pounds.  And I mean a minimum of 250 pounds.

Okay, I was just informed while I was writing this that this show already exists and it's called "Dance Your Tushy Off" (I edited that - this is a family-friendly blog).  Apparently it was a flop (pun intended).  So never mind on my great idea.

But my older brother would be perfect for that type of show.  He's an amazing dancer, even though he weighs about 270 pounds.  He can do the worm, the robot, and anything else you throw at him.  It's actually quite astounding.  You wouldn't believe it unless you saw it.  But you'd never see it because he's only danced in front of people 3 times in his life.  So I don't know if he was born with dancing talent (weird) or if he practices for hours at a time in his room (more weird, but also more likely).

I'm gonna have to work on getting him on tape so I can post it on here.  Because I shouldn't be the only one who knows how good he is.  Anyway, he would totally win that show (just like I would win Wheel of Fortune).