Saturday, November 29, 2008

It Is (Was) Thanksgiving, After All

So here's my list of some things I'm really thankful for:

1. The Divine Ms B, who puts up with my failings as a husband and a human, and who really doesn't think jewelry, cruises, trips to Europe, vacation homes, designer -- well, designer anything, or any of the other manias that have seized the upper middle class, are necessary for a full and happy life.

2. Good kids on whom I have spent money for tuition and books and orthodontia and various trips, but never any money for bail, legal council, or rehab.

3. Still having some friends that I've known since as far back as fourth grade, with whom I therefore share experiences that would assure our mutual destruction should they ever become public knowledge. And being able to spend a day with them a few times a year.

4. Having other friends that, despite miles and years, are just as wonderful as they ever were. Just a little balder, maybe.

5. Having a job I enjoy going to most days, and working with people that I really like to be with.

6. Modern medicine. Say what you will, it's much better than the alternative. And it's probably saved my life more than once.

7. Indian food.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Cat is Out of the (Gucci) Bag!

Well, what must be one of the worst-kept secrets in the history of the world is now floating about in cyberspace, thanks to the Mommy Muse. In a recent post she suggested that my sense of fashion isn't quite what it could be. But before I get to the main subject of this entry, I do have to take exception with one of her points: she offered as conclusive proof of my bad fashion sense the fact that I wore red sweat pants in public. Now I am clearly guilty of that, but as it unequivocally states in Section 7-XXXVII- of the International Fashion Code Scoring Book:

Any article of clothing, no matter how egregiously unfashionable or how obviously in bad taste, does not count against the FS [fashion sense] of the wearer if there is a professional or college team logo on it, and said person can reasonably be said to be a fan of or is otherwise affiliated, however loosely, with said team.
As anyone who saw me could attest, those red sweatpants were Wisconsin red sweat pants, and so are really irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Go Badgers!

(By the way, just for the record, the same section quoted above also allows for the following items:

There is also a Cheese bra available for sale , but I'm not out to start World War III here, just make a little point about team apparel.)

Anyway, back to the real issue, which is, basically, "Duh!" Let's look at the pure, unvarnished facts:
  1. I was once asked by my date to change my clothes before we went out in public together.
  2. During a college practicum experience when I visited and helped teach a high school math class, students made fun of my clothes. They sent me notes about it. I thought those blue and red plaid pants were the snappiest thing I could find at DI.
  3. My wife destroyed most of my wardrobe when we got married.
  4. My own web page contains the following audio clip which plays when you click on my handsome face: Audio.
  5. At a professional meeting a few years ago, I explained to one of my friends from graduate school that I had reached an age when comfort was more important to me than fashion. He replied, "Steve, I can never imagine a time when comfort wasn't more important to you than fashion." Thanks, Randy.
  6. I wear socks with sandals. Often, I wear black dress socks with sandals. I have worn that particular combination to Church. My reasons are simple and unassailable: 1) feet are ugly (at least mine are), and 2) sandals are comfortable. And to all of you members of the Fashion Police whose knickers are knotting up as you read this, let me make these two cogent arguments: 1) get a freakin' life, and 2) bite me.
  7. I am absolutely and fully in favor of all university teachers wearing their academic robes to teach in. It would, for me, cover a multitude of sins, including partially un-tucked shirts. If they were long enough, they would cover my socks-and-sandals.
  8. My adopted Pirate name for International Talk Like a Pirate Day is "Cap'n Scruffy."
  9. My fashion hero is Professor Peter Schickele, of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople, shown here standing next to Lyric Tenor Vale Rideout, a normal human being with fashion sense. I often really look like this. Honest.

As you can now deduce for yourself, it is clear to me and to everyone who knows me that I feel about fashion like pigs feel about breath mints: blissfully ignorant.

See, "fashion" deals with questions like, "Which of these two ties should I wear with my new charcoal sports jacket?"

My problem is more likely to be in the area of choosing, "Which of these ties should I wear to my daughter's wedding?"

So there you have it. My being accused of having bad fashion sense is like being a Democrat in Utah County: I'm already numb from abuse, and one more jab just doesn't make that much difference.

The "Queen" part hurt a little, though.

The Family Rule

Everyone knows that families have to have rules. If there isn't order and clear limits, the experts tell us, children grow up feeling insecure and become cross-dressing Democrats or worse, Yankee Fans. But despite our best efforts, reading numerous books and taking the occasional parenting class, the Divine Ms B and I have never really achieved much in the "house of order" department. Dinner time is often a matter of personal choice. Bedtime? Flexible in the extreme. And despite the fact that (I swear!) each of our children has their own, designated bed complete with sheets, blankets, and pillows, the late evening will often find my children wandering about the house, dragging a blanket, looking for a couch, recliner, floor, or someone else's unused bed, to sleep in. It seems that no matter what we do, we remain largely Bohemian, with a bag of chips.

So it is with some pride that I announce today solid empirical evidence that at least one rule has been established in our family. I have verified its existence on several occasions, and I feel safe in announcing to the world proof of the fact that our house is not ruled by utter chaos.

Figure 1 below shows the amount of milk that needs to be left in the bottom of the milk jug so that the person leaving said milk is not obligated to go out to the other 'fridge and bring in a new gallon of milk.

So, there you have it. Social order and reason prevail, and democracy is safe. Watch out, Pike Family! Our star is rising!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Trouble Brewing in the Garage

I have been a homeowner (and a car owner) long enough to recognize an epic battle when it is brewing. I have had a few. For example, we owned a '90 Plymouth Voyager whose engine would shut off while we were driving down the road. Then it wouldn't start again for anything between one and six hours. About half the time this shutting down was preceded by the engine overheating. Of course, it would shut off without overheating sometimes, and it would overheat without shutting off sometimes. We came to dread going through the mountains because it might overheat and if so it might shut down. Or it might make it over Mount Timpanogos only to die on the way to the store later that night. Yes, we took it to several mechanics. But somehow we could never seem to get it to a mechanic while it was still misbehaving. So over the course of 5 years or so we just replaced everything. Never did fix the problem. Eventually it died for good. Now, two cars later, my eye still twitches when I start driving uphill. And the Divine Ms. B still turns the AC off and the heater on, even in the middle of August, just to keep the engine cool

Of course, the maddening thing was the seemingly random nature of it. No one ever figured out why, or when, or how, or if, the stupid thing was going to shut down.

Now the garage light is starting.

We've lived for a long time with a balky shop light in the garage. It acted up when the weather got cold, because of course the framastat or the freemulator or whatever it is that gets the gases in the long florescent bulbs excited enough to start glowing wouldn't work if the temperature was too low. But then I finally broke down and bought a new shop light rated for cold weather, and hung it up. Now, the shop light has to plug in to a grounded three-prong power outlet, and of course the light switch controls a regular old single-bulb light socket. So we had used one of those screw-in adapters, screwed into another of those screw-in adapters, and a three-prong to two-prong adapter.

Voila! There was light!

Until there wasn't.

Of course, I took things apart and frowned at them, and reassembled them and tried it again. And there was light. Until there wasn't. So I took out the most suspicious looking adapter, since I only really needed one, and tried it again. And there was light. Until there wasn't. I eventually replaced all the parts with other parts we found in my toolbox. Each time it worked, for a while. So I frowned and tightened and wiggled things with reckless abandon. And, after various combinations of new and old adapters, we have finally arrived at the state where sometimes the light works, and sometimes it doesn't. I scratched my head and told the Divine Ms. B, "That'd be an electrical problem. Yup." And there we stand, until I make a trip to Lowe's and buy another adapter, one that hasn't had a chance to catch a bad attitude from the other spare hardware in my toolbox.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Results of the Procedure

Well, my friends were right. The preparation was by far the worst part. In fact, the part where they put the sleepy juice into my IV was really rather pleasant, at least the six seconds of it that I remember. And afterward, I got crushed ice in a Styrofoam cup. Beat that!

But the best part is, despite what many of you might think, there was NO STICK!

And I've got the picture to prove it:

So there.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

An Attack of Modern Medicine

Tomorrow I begin preparations for a medical procedure. I am having this procedure on Monday morning, but preparations begin tomorrow. I am having this procedure for two reasons. The first is, my wife's friend's husband had some health problems, and so I had to go get a physical. (You married men will understand this.) The second is, when you get a physical and you are past the age of 50, your punishment is to go get this procedure. Even if your doctor himself admits, in front of your wife, that he has sort of been putting it off himself -- that's how much fun it is, this procedure -- you still have to go get it because apparently That's The Rules.

So anyway, preparations begin with nothing but clear liquids tomorrow, and then a couple of pills about noon, then drinking a lot of something that as near as I can tell turns into Scrubbing Bubbles. And from what I'm told, it tastes like it, too.

Friends and relations who have had this procedure already assure me that the day of preparation for it is by far the worst part. Considering the procedure itself bares a striking resemblance to what happens when people are abducted by aliens (probes, sharp things, etc.), that is really saying something. You can imagine what a comfort that has been to me.

So no matter how bad your Sunday is, you will still be having a better day than me. And a better morning Monday, too, although it may take hypnosis for me to really remember that part.

From Utah Valley Digestive Health Center, or Area 51?
You decide!