Monday, November 30, 2009


As I mentioned awhile ago, my store has a gas station, and I’m often out there. I don’t think I could do it all the time, but it’s a nice break from time to time. Time is spent coaching people on how to use the pre-pay, cleaning spills when people want to round their bill up to the nearest dollar, and general tidying. Mostly, it’s pacing, and waiting for someone has a problem for me to solve.

Not long ago, someone asked me about gas caps being left behind, and if we just throw them out. Yeah, if no one’s come for them after 3-4 days, we figure that they aren’t going to. Then said that we glue them together and make modern art sculptures.

He replied “That’s funny. You’ve got a great sense of humor.”

I’m a big fan of my humor; I find it well-tailored to my sensibilities, but that was surely not one of my gems. This fellow was clearly Carnegie-izing. (I learned that term from Alice Schroeder in her recent biography of Warren Buffett, The Snowball. It loosely means “flattering until the subject wants to do what you want them to do.” The concept is based on Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.) So this gent was clearly blowing sunshine up my ass.
I’ve seen this approach twice before at work, so I had an idea of what was coming. “Have you considered way of making some extra income?” Here we go…

Now, if you want to do Network Marketing, good for you. D. Trump and R. Kiyosaki endorse it, and I’m not going argue on wealth-building techniques with either of them. But when someone’s working retail, they’re getting paid to be polite. If we’re listening to your spiel, it’s because we’d get reprimanded for being rude.

My first experience with this was when I was cleaning up a water spill, and a guy said “I’m in insurance, and I’m looking to open offices in this city, and looking agents; people looking for a career change.” I guess mop-swinging made me a good candidate.

The second one was just precious. He offered me $900 for my earrings if I signed a contract saying I’d never get another piercing. When I asked what else was involved in this amazing (?!) offer, he got really vague. He tried convincing me that when a woman sees piercings on a guy, she assumes it means he wants to be led around (see “Whipped”). Then asks his wife, “When you see piercings on a guy, what does it make you think?” “That he wants to be led around.”
“Yeah, and you didn’t have any time to rehearse that at all, did you?”

Thank God a manager came along and told this guy that I had work to do. As soon as he was gone, I thanked her profusely!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, My American Friends

It’s been pretty quiet on the Blogging front lately, but many of our American friends are posting about what they’re thankful for. I think it’s great that we have a holiday to focus on gratitude; it’s just good for the spirit. They must be having a great time too, ‘cause not many of the ones I follow have posted yesterday. I imagine that Christmas will be the same.

What am I thankful for? I have a beautiful wife (if you haven’t looked at the picture lately, look now. Seriously, I landed me a Fox!) I’ve got a healthy child, who makes hilarious wide-eyed ‘Ooooh’ faces when we hold her in a standing position. We haven’t had any snow to speak of yet, but that could change at any time. I work with great people, and when I make my fortune, I may stay there awhile, limited part-time of course. My 10 year old cat is showing no signs of slowing. My four year old computer shows some slowness, but still works just fine. And last year, The Beastie Boys finally put out an instrumental album, though it lacked the diversity I would have hoped for

And my child sleeps through most of the day, until early evening, then she’ll be fussy until about 12:30. I’ll tell ya, it’s a special kind of hell when I think she’s out at 11:30, but when I put her down, she winds back up instantly! It’s hard to remember my mantra: “I’ll look back on this as The Easy Part.” I don’t imagine that I’ll be able to read & write from 7-9AM when she’s two. But I can hope…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Most Important Post Yet!

Welcome to the Entertaining Season! For many, the best part is getting together with family & friends for some alcohol-enhanced visiting, and while this can make for good times and great memories, there is the inherent responsibility of making sure your loved-ones get home safe.

So here was my plan: I was going to get in touch with the local Police Department for advice on how to prove to guests that they are too far-gone to handle a vehicle. You know, things like ‘touch your nose’ or ‘walk a straight line.’ Naturally, if you need to ask, they probably are too drunk to drive, but convincing them of that is the issue.

When S/Sgt. Stephen Bishop of the Barrie Police Dept. got back to me (quite promptly, I might add), he said that such tests weren’t a good idea, since a seasoned drinker would have to trouble passing. Either way, the host is still legally responsible, and his summary was chilling: “You wouldn’t be the first to lose your house in a civil suit.”

So the best plan is what’s recommended on all the commercials: Transit, taxi, designated drivers, or just stay over.

We’ve come a long way in regards to responsible drinking, and most people will have a plan, or admit when they’ve gotten carried away. Let’s all help the upward-spiral, and be sure to have a safe holiday season for all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holy War In A Bottle

On Saturday, I took Calli to my folks place (about a 45 min drive), because a 2nd cousin couldn’t make it to the shower and wanted to meet her – her name was also Cali. (I don’t know if she was a “Callista,”). When my aunt came by to get her, it was funny to hear her say “Imagine that, eh? Will packing her up and bringing her up here by himself.” Welcome to the brave new world. Her husband (and much of the community) is a rustic, blue collar type who bring home checks, and wait for the kids to get a little older before getting very hands-on with the parenting.

By and large, we had a delightful visit, until the last hour, when mom said “(the church) is having a Baby Dedication on the 28th, do you want to come?” Well, no mother. No I don’t.
Oh yeah, it’s gonna be a parental-religious-argument post.

After years of me tip-toeing around the subject, they asked “What’s the hang-up. Really.” Now what I should have wish I’d have said was “I was chin-deep in it for so long (16-23, including 4 years of Bible College) I’m kinda tired out of it.” Sadly, what I Said was “my faith in God is as strong as it ever was, but much of what I’ve read in history doesn’t jive with the Church as it is.” I added that I haven’t shared because they are in a really good place with their faith, and their religious community, so I’m not gonna sit ‘em down to watch Bill Mayer’s “Religulous.”
Of course, they want to know what I mean by “historic problems.” Well then, how much to I want to show? An important part of my belief’s is “Don’t go messing with other people’s belief’s!” So, to throw them a bone, I explained that in the 1st generation after Jesus, there was a split between the Jewish followers and the Gentile followers. What we have in the Church is Paul’s Roman version, while the Jewish version (who would have had the better frame-of-reference for Jesus’ message) got marginalized.

Now, as Papa said, they’re “…really worried about me.” “Do you not believe in the Trinity?” Well, it’s a fantastic illustration of the nature of God… At the end of the day, it’s a matter of faith, and since their faith is good for them, I don’t wish to argue.

On the drive home, I tried listening to NIN, which didn’t help, so I switched to Aerosmith. Much better. Funny thing is, the next morning, I did just what I imagine they did: I found someone who thinks and believes as I do and vented. Then Mom called that night and it seemed that all was forgotten.

We’ll see…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Shortest Post, Ever

I offer you, dear friends, a Canadian tribute to ‘80’s Brit-Pop:

Let it all oot.
These are the things we can do without,
Je parlez a tu

Thank you, and goodnight.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

She Smiled! kinda

It was hard to believe when it happened, but lo and behold, there were the beginnings of a smile there. Mostly, it was a lop-sided grin, with a bit of an Elvis curl. I had to listen to her middle for a moment, because such a look has been, up to this point, a herald of things to come, things that have earned her the nick-name “Thunder-Pants.” I’ve often told people, “It looks like she’s smiling at us, but I know it’s just gas,” and I was often told “Oh, you’re taking the fun out of it.” But when I’m not inflating the truth (get it? “Inflating”) it means so much more when I get the real thing!

It kinda reminds me of what a friend & I were talking about yesterday. He said that when a good writer is writing for someone else’s site (in more of a Home Page context, not Blogging. Or maybe Blogging, if that’s what a client wants), they can make them look better than they really are. We agreed that that’s not the best idea, since an accurate representation will pay off better than an exaggerated one. Like someone in Top Gun said, “Your mouth’s writing checks that your ass can’t cash!” (I think I was about 12 when I saw that, and I got the ‘check’ metaphor, but was confused as to how an ass could, even metaphorically, fulfill the promises. Typically literally-minded child) I think my favorite take on that is L’il Kim’s “My shit’s paid for, your shit’s loaned out.” (Will They Die 4 You, on Chef Aid, The South Park Album).

In other news, we got our Christmas Help in at work now. I got three of them to go to managers, and ask for the basement keys. Little did they know, the only way they’d find a basement was with a shovel. It was even better when the managers weren’t in on the joke, giving our poor Newbies a what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about? Look. One who didn’t fall for it had been a manager at a fast food joint, where they sent their newbies looking for the bacon-stretcher. Anyone else got any good Initiation stories? Within reason, of course – I don’t wasn’t to hear about the Limp Biscuit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Puppy's as Birth Control

Has this title gotten your imagine going in uncomfortable directions? Hear me out, it will make a world of sense in just a minute.

When we got Kuma about 14 months ago, he was just five weeks old and VERY high-maintenance. Asides from the constant attention he was demanding, there was a lot of clean-up, earning him the nickname ‘Lord Piddly-Squirts Von Bitesalot. Esquire. On his first day home, Andrea greeted me at the door, saying “We’ve adopted a Fountain!” A few months later, we felt it was safe to rent a steam-cleaner for the carpets. After more than ten hours of working with this thing (and about $85), it was less than half-an-hour after I got home from returning the steam-cleaner, he puked on the carpet. I nearly wept.

For the first six months of his stay with us, he slept in a kennel in our room, and he’d wake up 3-4 times a night to have us take him out to relieve himself, because he wouldn’t foul his little environment. Then he would take over an hour to settle enough to go back to sleep. Andrea and I took turns – whoever wasn’t working the next day would get up with him. This totally robbed weekends of their charm; “Whoopie, two nights of getting up three times a night.”

Now I’m thinking, when our kids get to that special age, when they know what “Getting Intimate” is, and they’re thinking about taking that step, I’d like to get her a puppy. When she’s been getting up through the night for a few weeks, I can tell her that “This is about 8% of what it’s like to be a parent.”

For the record, Andrea’s not sold on this idea. She’s pretty confident that this Puppy Parenting will fall to us, and the lesson will be lost on her.

Of course, it’s all moot, since my little girl is going to grow up to be a Nun-Doctor-Astronaut, and won’t need to know about parenting.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reincarnation, Not Just For Hindus Buddhists, and Californians Anymore

Do you remember your past lives? It’s getting more difficult. There’s one that I recall, when I could go out for beers, and not concern myself with what kind of shape I was in when I finally crawled into bed.

I was able to call a buddy to swing by, and we could stay up late, playing guitars – the eight or so songs that we knew between us, then bbq burgers, and share whatever work gossip was current.

Andrea and I could just say, “Hey, let’s see if there’s any good movies playing,” then just take off, watching whatever happened to be playing, after a dinner out, and of course lingering around the book store for an hour. And we wouldn’t have to schedule our…intimacies.

I could sleep-in to a leisurely 7:30. Luxury. Now, I’m up at 5:30, almost every day. It’s not so bad, though. It takes about an hour to feed, and I used to see what was on TV, but at that time of day, it’s nothing but shite. Now, I’m more likely to catch-up on Podcasts, if she’s not flailing too much, and pulling my earphones out. Afterwards, Calli will snooze, her tummy full and her heart content, on my arm as I read Blogs. After a while of this, she’ll go in her chair, as I write. If, that is, I’m feeling particularly ambitious. But it’s a whole new life now, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything! If it’s a little harder to plan my days, then so be it.

Last night, Andrea & I were talking about this, and she made a good point – even when we think of our parents, it’s next to impossible to think of them as having had a life before we arrived. I mean, there are pictures, and some stories, but it’s more like an historical tale, than anything that happened to someone I know! I suppose that’s how Calli will view us; we are the Providers who came into being for their care & feeding. The Grand Fixers of Dinners, and the Keepers of the Secrets of the Bank Machines. When I talk about going to college, or playing bass in bands, I might as well be talking about John Lennon, or Mozart (my, I flatter myself, don’t I?) But somewhere, deep inside of us all, remains a memory – a spark – of the people we were before we became Responsible Adults. Hold it tight, my friends. Hold it tight.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Cheater Costume -- Clever or Weak?

Last Saturday (Halloween), at my Unnamed Retail Outlet, a friend, who happens to be a Supervisor, really encouraged me to dress-up. I hadn’t planned on it, since I started at 9, and it would be difficult to cover Calli’s morning feeding, and get my own act together in time to leave. I do have my Vampire stuff from previous years, but oddly, it’s been shrinking in my closet (Denial? Me? No!)

At the last minute, I remembered an idea I had years ago. I thought it was the most clever thing EVER. Andrea said it was stupid, and nearly begged me to reconsider, saying that I’d make a fool of myself, and people wouldn’t get it. Here’s what I did:

A collared shirt and a tie. That’s it. But here’s the genius; when people asked what I was supposed to be, I said “I can only tell you if you guess once.” I heard “A lawyer or politician?” “Funeral Director” “A guy looking for a job” (From the store manager – just a little unsettling) Then I’d tell them “I’m a Rorschach Test” This wasn’t enough explanation, so I’d elaborate: “The Rorschach test is the Ink Blots, where you tell the Doctor what you see, so this is what comes to your mind when you see a guy in a shirt & tie.”

Naturally, some people got it, and some people loved it, and some were just confused, usually when I didn’t have time to explain it properly. So what do you think? Am I clever, or just a boob?

Incidentally, the friend who wanted me to dress-up came as Alex from Clockwork Orange, and she looked GREAT! Easily the best costume of the day!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How Memorable Was Calli's First Halloween?

So last night probably wasn't the worst Halloween ever, but it certainly wasn't in the top ten.
Now, for several years, Andrea & I would decorate the yard with assorted skulls, headstones, bats, spider webs, etc. then dress up in our Vampire stuff (she's just damn sexy as the undead!), and we'd give loot to the neighborhood kids until about 8:30. Then we'd go (with a friend Michelle) to a horror movie – the only time she'd watch horror, since it scares the bejesus out of her. We love Halloween, and relish this holiday of the macabre. This year, however, we really couldn't go out, 'cause of Calli, nearly six weeks old, and too small for any costume available (we looked, and they'd look like tents on her!). So we were gonna have Michelle for a B-Day dinner (she's 30 on Nov 2), and two of our coolest friends for dinner. I was really looking forward to it for weeks, until half way through Saturday, when I phoned home to find out that they were sick, and Andrea's mom & aunt would be coming for the uber-special dinner that Andrea had planned.
Andrea's family is great, and I enjoy our family gatherings, but when I'm geared-up for an evening with peers, well the “Party” turned into a “Gathering.” Oh well, I had to work really early anyway, so I guess it turned out for the best. The friends should be coming over next weekend, so that will be the night I was looking forward to!

In other news, Andrea had a funny incident with Calli. Like a lot of funny child stories, it really wasn't funny at the time. Andrea was getting her ready for a bath, and left her in her crib for a minute while she got the tub ready. That's when Calli started screaming. Not a fussy 'I'm lonely' scream, or even a more urgent 'I'm hungry' scream, but a guttural, shrill, banshee noise, as though she was being split up the middle! Upon investigation, Andrea found her with a hand full of her own hair! The pain made her clench and pull her fist, which made her hurt, which made her clench and pull, which made her look at Mommy with a look that said “Why are you allowing this torment?” Her grip was so tight, Andrea was afraid she'd break a finger if she tried too hard to save our little angel from herself! I don't know how it ended, but it's a funny image, and is a prime contender for Stories We'll Tell At Her Wedding.