Friday, August 29, 2008

Introducing to America: Sarah Palin, the sitting governor of Alaska.

Hey, am I fired up about McCain's VP pick? You betcha! Here's some interesting facts I culled from the Internet (so they must be true):

Palin was the point guard and captain for the Wasilla High School Warriors, in Wasilla, Alaska, when they won the Alaska small-school basketball championship in 1982; she earned the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" because of her intense play. She played the championship game despite a stress fracture in her ankle, hitting a critical free throw in the last seconds. Palin, who was also the head of the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes, would lead the team in prayer before games.

And she's hot! In 1984, after winning the Miss Wasilla contest earlier that year, Palin finished second in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant which won her a scholarship to help pay her way through college. In the Wasilla pageant, she played the flute and also won Miss Congeniality.

Her husband is a professional fisherman, he works an oil field in the off-season (a member of the steelworkers union), and is a champion snowmobiler -having won the 2000-mile "Iron Dog" race four times. They were high school sweethearts. The two eloped shortly after Palin graduated from college; when they learned they needed witnesses for the civil ceremony, they recruited two residents from the old-age home down the street.

A regular churchgoer, (Protestant) she's staunchly pro-life. A happily married mother of five, she gave birth to her second son, Trig Paxson Van Palin, who has Down syndrome, a few months ago. She returned to the office three days after giving birth. Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. "I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection," Palin said. "Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking: in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?"

On September 11, 2007, the Palins' eighteen-year-old son Track, eldest of five, joined the Army. He now serves in an infantry brigade and will be deployed to Iraq in September.

She ice fishes. She runs marathons. She owns a float plane. She eats moose hamburgers. She's a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. When she was growing up, Sarah and her father would sometimes wake at 3 a.m. to hunt moose before school, (presumably for the hamburgers.)

What's not to like?

And she knows what she's doing as a politician. She got the job as governor of Alaska by ousting the sitting governor in her own party. She's the one who killed the Bridge to Nowhere. "The political landscape is littered with the bodies of those who have crossed Sarah," pollster Dave Dittman told the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes. She's the most popular governor in America, (and, yes, that includes Arnold Schwarzenegger) with an approval rating that has bounced around 90 percent.

90 percent!

Have a good weekend, Obama.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sorry folks, no big blog today.

Now, shhhh! Obama's getting ready to speak!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Report from the Dentist: I'm the picture of perfect health!

Actually, he walked in and introduced himself after the x-ray session and said, "So, you're the picture of perfect health, eh?" I wasn't sure what he was referring to. Seems he thought I was boasting when I didn't put down any allergies or pre-existing conditions on the first-timer form. So I said yes, and he proceeded with the examination.

I have two tiny, nearly insignificant cavities. "No big deal," the man said. Then he said, and I'm not kidding, "We don't get a lot of patients like you in here."

"What do you mean, Dr.?"

"All those teeth!"

I have extra teeth. It's a big mouth. You should see the size of my tongue. Anyway, I put down that I brush my teeth twice a day on the form, but the truth is I only brush them once a day -I know, shame on me- so I was surprised to hear that I didn't have any major cavities in 6 years of not going to the dentist. Mrs. Ditchman and I fully believe that the toothpaste we use has a lot to do with it. (We've always used this, in case you're wondering.) The Doctor was dismayed that I didn't floss, however. He showed me the x-rays and explained my dismal dental future if I didn't start now. I explained that I always had trouble getting the floss between some of those crowns and tightly fitting teeth.

So he said, "You're a contractor, you'll appreciate this tool." And he brought out one of these. "You can get them at Target. Fifteen bucks. Battery included. Better than flossing. Don't know why everyone doesn't use them." Then he said, "Or you could use this." He handed me an old pipe cleaner and deadpanned: "Appalachian dental floss." I laughed all the way to Target.

He's a good dentist! I like him. He came in with a whole comedy routine, clearly rehearsed, and wanted to know a little about me. After his analysis of my mouth, he handed me a mirror and told me to open wide so he could explain my teeth to me. It was very helpful and unexpectedly enlightening to have someone scrutinize and elucidate my mouth in articulate, reverent tones. I found it fascinating.

I have a minor problem with a broken wisdom tooth (mandibular third molar #17) and some of the gum around it. He said I have two options. Option #1 involves a year or so of gum and tooth reconstructive surgery -carving away the flesh and restructuring some of the tendons in my mouth, along with a goodly amount of grinding down and rebuilding of the tooth. It would be quite a remodel. The cost would be in the tens of thousands with chances of success at 80%. Option #2? Yank it.

I said I'd think about it.

His name is Gerald F. Moore and he's in Vista. Doctor Jerry. He didn't try to push any unnecessary appointments on me. He's old school and he has a nice office. A sign above one of the dental chairs reads, in all capital letters, "RELAX!" which I found amusing with its exclamation point.

Mandibular third molar #17:

If they pull it, I'm going to ask to keep it.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rushing off to the dentist this morning! Tis significant in that I haven't been to the dentist since before I got married, about six years ago. Neat!

My dad never went to the dentist. He was convinced that the teeth cleaning "removed all of his protective plaque" and then put him in danger of getting cavities. He didn't go for about twenty years and then got some insurance and went one day. Guess what? Doctor said he had no cavities! All were amazed. They gave him a good cleaning and six months later he went back for a checkup. Guess what? He had, like, fifty cavities. Went to his grave with incessant toothaches. I remember him complaining about it, among other things, and blaming the hygienists. ("And I paid for this?!")

So we'll see what I've got. I bet I've got a few cavities, and I know that I'll probably need a crown back there on a broken tooth. I'll probably get some grief about my TMJ problem, which is the dental version of quack chiropractic in my humble opinion. But sometimes my jaw just locks open! And sometimes it clicks when I eat! Anyway, another crown and I'll have three lined up in a row. (Clearly, I favor that side.)

Last time I was in I asked the dentist about my wisdom teeth and whether or not they needed to be removed. He said, "Plenty of room!" So, good for me, I've got more teeth than most. These extra teeth, I believe, have slowly pushed together the Letterman gap on my two front incisors. That gap defined my face in my youth, but the days of whistling through it are coming to a close, literally. I'm changing. By the time I'm fifty, I reckon, I'll have a nicely aligned top set of teeth from my self-managed orthodontia. The bottom row I'm not so sure about: they're beginning to jam together.

What's the protocol here, by the way? Should I brush my teeth before I go? Should I walk in sucking down a jalapeno breakfast burrito and a Frappachino? Bag of candied nuts and popcorn, maybe? I hope he doesn't catch my cough, poor guy.


Monday, August 25, 2008

I was thinking I would just post: "TMST off for the week" since last week was disappointing in its lack of significance and hardly delivered on the upbeat optimism that you come to expect from this blog. But I was thinking this yesterday, when I wasn't even sure how I would feel this morning. So this week, it appears, my attitude was busted from the get-go. I'll have to work on that!

I've got a very important meeting this morning and need to rush off! For those of you who don't own your own business, this is one of those meetings where everything needs to go well so that your family can prosper in the suburbs another month. It's a meeting where you'll make promises you're pretty sure you can keep. Sometimes when you're climbing that ladder to success, you reach the top and have to kick it away from the cliff, and then start on the next ladder with its top looming up there somewhere above the clouds. You can do it! It's just that these things somehow seem to become more unstable the higher you go.

I've always loved how on the top of the ladder is the Not-A-Step. I use the Not-A-Step all the time. The very top of the Not-A-Step is exactly six feet, which is my height. If I'm working on a patio cover that is 10 feet high, like last week's was, I know that when I'm standing on the Not-A-Step, the top of the cover will be at my nipples, and I have to muscle everything higher than that -all the while precariously balanced on the Not-A-Step!

Well, it is a step -you just have to be careful. Lawyers got together and decided that that was not a usable part of the ladder, but these lawyers have never been up ladder in their lives and they pay people like me to break the rule they made. I know what you're thinking, but I have a 10 foot ladder and it doesn't fit under a ten foot cover. Do they make eight foot ladders? Probably. But then they wouldn't fit in the truck.

Where am I going with all of this? Not sure. I'm just saying life isn't easy at the top of the ladder.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Public service announcement: the radio remote control micro helicopter technology is not there yet. Don't waste your money. I'm on my second one and the thing just spins uncontrollably into the air like a manic, brainless dervish. I want my money back. It was $39.99 and I decided to get it over the $29.99 model because it bragged right there on the box: "the world's most stable indoor R/C helicopter!" I'm on my second one because the first one just didn't respond to the controller. And the second one? Doesn't respond to the controller. Those commercials you've seen with the things totally stable in midair and perfectly negotiating the living room? Modern digital special effects. (Now that technology has arrived. Arrived, wowed, worn out its welcome and refuses to leave.)

I got it for a hilarious campfire skit I had planned for camp, but alas... Anyway, it was a childhood dream of mine to own an R/C helicopter, and seeing the technology arrive and the price come down stoked me beyond belief! Imagine my disappointment. It impresses both the cat and the Little Ditchman with its spontaneous autonomy, but it does nothing it says on the box except blink its lights. There is one label of interest, however. It reads in bright yellow lettering: "R/C aircraft are NOT RETURNABLE if physical damage is present." I kept that in mind. I expect an argument.

My other childhood dream, the saltwater reef tank, is still in disrepair. Though I was able to get the tank's bottom pane replaced I just haven't had the time to piece the whole thing back together (Better! Stronger! Faster!) Mrs. Ditchman, God bless her, went all the way to Huntington Beach to pick up the thing from the shop the other day so I am grateful -but I haven't the time! Meanwhile, my two-year-old has childhood dreams of her own that need tending to. I haven't the heart to tell her wait 36 years. (But the technology is coming!)

Thank you for joining us here at The Most Significant Complaint. Sorry guys, it's been that kind of week. I spend most of my days battling the perpetual bad attitude I was born with, and when I get sick I lose the battle over and over again. I still have a lingering cough, some lower back pain, and a mild fever that comes and goes at whim. I was going to say that it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to work, but I took Monday off and it was so bad, so whatever... But I expect to be at ninety percent tomorrow!

Have a fabulous Saturday and an extraordinary Sunday!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pretty good today.

I don't eat at Subway. It's one of the food joints I just can't stomach. It somehow falls into the "fast food" category for me and I basically avoid those places for reasons of health and discordant marketing imagery (the colors green and yellow accompanied by underground train iconography do not help my appetite.) And I'm not sure what it is, but I'm standing there watching them make the Subway sandwich -everything seems fine- and then I bite into it and it just tastes a gooey, greasy pile of fast food. Do they still offer "oil" on your sandwich? This always cracked me up. They toss together a whole, healthy deli-fresh submarine and then turn to you with the bottle: "Oil?" And, God bless him, I know it really helped Jared lose all that weight (and gave him a lucrative career.) Nowadays, just the smell of a Subway sandwich place helps me lose weight, too.

I am turned off by sandwich joints were the food preparers wear plastic baggies on their hands like old schoolhouse cafeteria marms. I mean, is the food they're making that disgusting that they don't even want to touch it? Okay, so they're wearing the plastic gloves so that they don't get your food dirty. Well, why is Subway tolerating such filthy employees? Don't tell them the vegetables all grow out of the dirt in some old field and then are machine-loaded into large trucks and driven down the freeway for hundreds of miles. Yes, but it's washed and covered in plastic. Fine. Interestingly, after your order is prepared they put it in another plastic bag. Don't touch it!

How did Subway make 'the sandwich' a fast food? It's brilliant, really. Despite my non-participation, Subway has nearly 30,000 shops in 87 countries, including Saudi Arabia (but I'll bet you can't order ham.) It's true, I read it on Wikipedia. There are three Subway stores in the Pentagon, over 200 on U.S. military bases, a couple in Iraq, and 900 inside of WalMart, so I suppose it's just a matter of time before the far-left demonizes them.

At one point, I patronized Quizno's in defiance of the plastic glove syndrome that spooks me. Their sandwiches were nice and toasty and their hands were clean and manicured and the color scheme of the store I found much more appealing. But then I noticed that their sandwiches started getting smaller while their prices crept up, and then one day I got a Quizno that had a half a gallon of some orange sauce swathed on it and I never went back. Today I just go into the grocery store and bother the people in the deli to make me one. They always seem annoyed, having been bothered to stop whatever it was they were doing, and they wipe their brow and glare at you over the counter like all you want is a freaking sandwich? Anything else? I know. They work so hard on all those salads, and they're presented so well there under the glass next to the melon balls and stuffed and sauteed mushroom caps. Anyway, it's just a sandwich. I had one yesterday. It didn't blow me away. I'm not sure what it would take to. I need help.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My wife's computer broke. The screen just doesn't come on anymore. I tried to fix it but, acch, those PCs and their mindless impersonal interface. It's just what we need around here, another broken computer. I suppose it could have come at a less opportune time -when we have less disposable income and less time to waste on the hassle, but why wait?

New computers interest me, but for all their gee-whizz-bang they're just tools. But they're tools with memory, which is a fascinating concept. Without memory, we humans are nothing and it's the same for computers. All those times you connected with friends and family, sent messages and photos back and forth, your whole business and all your personal records and love notes to your spouse -they're all right in there- but years go by and the tower looks the same. You'd think it'd have labels and stickers and tags all over it from the years of service. Like an old steamer trunk.

She's not very interested in using my old Mac. ("I need to use Excel." "I have Excel, honey." "On a Mac?") It's never really been a problem having a Mac user and a PC user in the house. On the contrary, it's been quite helpful at times to be able to open all the files out there on the net, but there is something vaguely asinine about it. It's like being married to an expatriate who refuses to learn the language.

The thing is, we never transferred her old PC files to the current PC, so if we get a new PC we'll have two old computers to transfer everything from. They sit here now like unpacked luggage after a long trip. Isn't there some sort of magic Windows button you can push to make this all happen automatically? I got a thumb drive for it, but the older model couldn't see the thumb drive. It just hung there on the side of the tower, like a cybernetic appendix. Screw it. Next time I go to Hawaii I'm going to leave the luggage on the curb with the garbage upon my return. (On second thought, just leave it in Hawaii!)

When you get a new Mac and turn it on, you get a friendly "Hello!" and a smiley face that asks you, "Would you like to copy all your old files and transfer all your system settings to this machine?" Why, yes! And then you plug a cable between the two and bang, there's your desktop again. Better. Stronger. Faster. It took, like, an hour, though, and not every file works. It's called the "Migration Assistant," which engenders the image of an Ellis Island customs official smiling and nodding, pointing the way, all the while not understanding a word you're saying. You get there and your Old World clothes are rejected by the culture.

So I would like to get the aged monoliths out of the office, among other things. Everything is just piling up around here and we're due for a fire sale. I know the moment it all goes out the room, though, I'm going to need those old reenforcement rings and packaging tape I've been saving. It's like those ten year-old emails and business files on that old computer -we'll never have a decent need for them until the beast leaves the premises, and then there we'll be, borne on the shore of the New World, with no history and nothing but a clean slate.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Still sick. Still angling for full recovery. When I breathe there is a low distant rumble in my chest that sounds like the recyclables truck just turned on to my street. Is the Mucinex helping? Maybe a little. But reading the label on that stuff I get the feeling that it's really made for a hacking smoker's cough. It's priced in their league, too, at $15 a bottle. Smokers will pay anything. It's a wonder cigarettes don't cost a hundred dollars a pack.

My brother is a smoker. He's quit a thousand times, of course. Recently, he moved to Las Vegas -the smokers' paradise- so there's no hope for him now, though he tells me he's not allowed to smoke at his new job, interestingly. I used to smoke years ago with an old girlfriend of mine, and to be honest I kinda liked it. I was lucky though, and found the residual elements of the stuff more disgusting than addictive. What is it about smoking that a day-old ashtray can be so nasty, but the clean, savory smoke wafting into your lungs with every other breath can be so satisfying and relaxing? Plus, it's a gift for the talentless. You look cool smoking, and you don't have to think up anything clever or buy stylish fashion. How unfortunate for your health. How unfortunate for everyone else. But you look cool!

I last purchased a pack of Dunhill Milds a few years ago and I believe I still have it around here somewhere. Are they still any good? Can anyone tell me if cigarettes ever go bad? Seriously, I've always wondered this. (Answer: No. They're always already bad.) I'm glad I got it out of my system. Tried smoking a pipe for a while, and though I enjoyed the scent I could never keep the damn thing lit. Plus my mouth tasted like Orange County the next morning (and I mean the Santa Ana portion of Orange County, not the Irvine portion -but ahh! the days you wake up and you have that fresh Irvine taste in your mouth!)

I'm not one of these people who thinks all cigarettes should be banned. I figure I can just get up and move if it bugs me. On the other hand, there's no smoking in my house without expressed permission. My brother knows this and it's on him when I have to explain the thoughtless decision he's made to the Little Ditchman. The poor kid! I just know the world will teach her that the cancer sticks kill mercilessly and then I have to explain why her uncle does this to himself. Oh well. I'll probably have a heart attack at some marathon somewhere and it will be Uncle Dain doing the explaining (over a long drag on a Marlboro Light 100, out back, next to a dumpster.) So it goes.

As for cigars, well, if I want the flavor of the bottom of a compost bin, I'll go lick the bottom of my compost bin. (But you look so manly doing it!)


Monday, August 18, 2008

How am I feeling? Better, except for the part of me that feels like I swallowed seventeen blunt ice-picks. Thanks for asking.

Someone mentioned that I try "Mucinex", so I got some. I've seen those disturbing commercials with the digitally animated phlegm monsters and figured, well, if they've got the money for that kind of marketing, the product must be encountering some success. It seems to help a bit, but what I'm really concerned about is catching pneumonia. I've got to keep working this week in spite of how I feel, and that's just the kind of dumb attitude that gives you pneumonia. Anyway, I drank enough DayQuil last week to decongest the 405 and I'm done with that. On to the MUCINEX! (There's nothing like a good phlegmy cough.)

"Phlegmy" I think would be a good name for a pet. I've got plenty to say on that, but Mrs. Ditchman is out of the house and the little one is dumping office supplies all over the floor. Gotta go.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Seriously, I don't remember when I was this sick. I actually thought I was getting better -I had given it the two days it usually demands- and then I went to work yesterday and nearly killed myself. Fool! On Wednesday I even phoned the customer and said I couldn't be there because I was sick, and I never do this, but on Thursday I had invigorated myself with so much acetaminophen that I thought I could handle it. I crashed Big Time last night. I excused myself from the dinner table and wasn't heard from again until this morning.

I'm pretty sure it's the flu. I was hoping I could get some media sympathy being a West Nile case (there were a lot of mosquitos out at camp) but I don't have the truncal rash and lymphadenopathy associated with it. I ruled out Typhus, too, since I don't have the rash, but there were lice at camp, so it had to be considered. Other common symptoms of stupor and delirium I get all the time from camp, so I discounted those out of hand.

Anyway, this flu is exactly what they say: that it's like you've been blindsided by a cement truck. I just hurt from neck to heel and want to hold and rock myself until my soul splinters off and frees me from the suffering. It's the kind of sickness where you actually consider if all the bases are covered in the event of your untimely death. And last night I dreamt of snakes and militant Muslims, and I was trapped in some bird's nest of ropes and sticks, unable to pull myself free, whilst the laughter of teenagers at summer camp echoed all around me, out of the darkness. It was awful.

And the fevers! The incessant clamminess of midnight, that comes in wave after wave, sticking nightshirt to bedsheet. Mrs. Ditchman wisely slept on the couch last night, and it was an uneasy night. She said the teenager was up at 3:15 pawing through the kitchen cupboards with a flashlight, looking for snacks. And then the cat, locked out of the room with the litter box, relieved himself on Dr. Seuss' ABCs a short time later. Also, just as the twilight of dawn begged its way in, the Little Ditchman sat up in bed screaming. She wouldn't say what it was, and laid back down, shuddering. So the devil ran his fingernails down the chalkboard in my house last night, is all I can say.

It's really painful. I don't remember feeling anything like this in the past. The rest of the family had their flu shot last year, so I'm not too concerned about them, but to everyone else I say: Those who value life and health, keep ye distance! The Spanish Flu killed 50 million people ninety years ago, and it doesn't surprise me. Please list your home remedies in the comments section. I'm ready to try anything.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Turned on the news this morning to hear about the Georgian crisis and all the world's leaders in heated negotiations over Russian borders and withdrawals, but they were nothing compared to the negotiations in my downstairs kitchen to get my two-year-old to eat her pancakes. Through some sly parental diplomacy, including abject dismissal of all distractions brought to the little melamine kid's table, we ate to live another day.

Today, little Grace Weaver turns one! So a big congratulations to her. Also, the Little Ditchman turns 29 months (though it's something of a non-event.) Also significant is that TMST turns one year old today. I was going to herald it with a big wowtastic video and new page design but acchhh... there are other things to do, bills to pay, priorities, etc. Also, I'm not feeling so well and I'm hopped up on meds and I've got a full day's work ahead of me and the family didn't go to Jazzercise so they're here in the office crafting distraction.

So here's a TMST flashback, from a year ago, writing about the new baby Weaver. It all still applies.

Before I got married weddings were just free booze-fest excuses to wear a tie, and a good place to pick up chicks. Now, of course, I recognize them for the momentous, nay, significant occasion that they are. I remember now the difference between the unmarried and the married at my wedding. It was a solemn, content nod that, yes, this New World was a green and fertile one, with a harvest unlike any you've ever seen. And the unmarried? They scamper around like sex-crazed weasels at sun-up. I doubt I'll ever skip out on another wedding the rest of my life. There are some grand days to be had in life -and they are not to be missed.

The births of children are the same. You just can't grasp the overwhelming joy that's felt with the arrival of a newborn unless it's yours. That's why we drove a hundred miles after a day working in the August heat to see this little one. Pure, unblemished joy! When our little Ditchman came into the world, it was quite nearly the happiest day of my life, rivaling only the wedding day. These are the things you want to see, over and over again. You want to see if you weren't so blasted nuts for being so giddy when she came into the world. "I'm not crazy, right? This is a miracle, right?" It is a miracle.

When you get married, you resign yourself to the fact that you will never fall in love again. When you have a child, you realize how wrong you were, and you realize it every single day, and you get down on your knees and thank the Good Lord that you were wrong all along.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Ant Man cometh. Again. We entered into a pact some time ago. I was ready to surrender, but for $40 a month I could get some mercenary forces in who swore they could do the job. Wipe 'em out. Well, the first campaign was on and did a decent job, but the ants had them flanked from the tree, from which they rose again a day or two later. They charged and took the pots on the corner of the patio, and within a few days were sending scouts back into the house. Mercs resumed operations this morning. They were friendly about it, and gleeful even, when another swarm was found out back on a corn stalk. Those sugary roots covered with aphids were as a beacon for the enemy. We took it down.

40 bucks a month gets you some real peace of mind. The Ant Men come every other month, actually, but will show up whenever you call at no extra charge. Whatever it takes, said the man with the pesticidal artillery.

I also spend 40 bucks a month on the security system. And 40 bucks a month on the Sparklett's. And I believe 40 bucks a month on each cel phone, and 40 bucks a month on high speed internet. "40 bucks" must be the amount that marketing research bureaus have found is the cost an average family in the suburbs won't think is too much and will be most willing to pay, but I think I'm getting nickel-and-dimed to death. 40-bucked to death. 40 bucks is also what I would spend to have a gardener mow the lawn and trim back all the plants next to the house that the ants use for entry, but I'm all out of cash. You have to draw the line somewhere. I had the teenager currently living in our house do it.

This teenager sits and stares at MySpace all day long (and by that I mean on my computer which is actually my space.) He has to be dragged off it. When he got home from camp, he went straight to the computer and began myspacing out, and he's been trippin' ever since. Last night we got a few phone calls from other campers who wanted to talk to him. They chatted on the phone, while they both stared at MySpace. My, how the Internet brings people together. He leaves Saturday. I'll get my space back.

I've been watching the Olympics. Mrs. Ditchman loves it. What do I think about it? Well, I think we could do without synchronized diving. Sure, it's neat to watch and all, but if only 20 people in the world do it, it's not a sport, it's a novelty, as in "something intended to be amusing as a result of its new or unusual qualities". Somehow I don't see ancient civilizations competing in synchronized diving (or synchronized anything, for that matter.) Call me when golf is an Olympic event. Or surfing. Is racketball one? Oh well. Look for the HALO event in 2012. (I am happy for that Phelps kid, though.)


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Man, you leave town for a few days and the world changes.

It's exhausting. I looked up at my calendar and noticed I was still somewhere in July. I could flip the page, but that would involve a certain amount of committal to all that has transpired (like I have a choice in the matter.) I think I had a hundred emails, and I wasn't exactly able to respond to all of the ones on the bottom of the list before I left. These things just drop off, eventually, and people seem to disappear for a while. I don't much like it. I'm sure there's a system application that would remind me that I failed to write back to so-and-so, but then I'd get all sorts of pop-up windows that read: "YOU HAVE NOT RESPONDED TO "V1agruh4lyfE". WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEND AN EMAIL NOW?"

The Russians attacked Georgia. I bring this up only because I'm avoiding writing about Annabelle and Camp Fox, the things that have overwhelmed my heart. I know little about Georgia, except that it's not just a state but a democratic country that was denied entry into NATO and that China is watching closely how the world will respond because they have a similar situation with Taiwan. Russia did it during the Olympics, which I find suspicious in its timing while the world's attention is elsewhere. Couple that with the tension building between Israel and Iran and the current election cycle and all the other unknown quantities and dictators with oil and you have a Perfect Storm brewing beyond the horizon. I don't want to be a doomsayer, but this is the stuff World Wars are made of.

And then there's our own problems at home. They all seem to line up by height, and you go at them as best you're able. I came back from Camp totally spent, as was expected, and woke up the next day and headed down to the NICU at the Children's Hospital. I don't believe I've ever been in a more intimidating room in a hospital, with its cables and tubes, screens and buttons, stainless steel and ultraviolet lights. And there in the morass -tiny babies the size of your hand, struggling for life in this world. Annabelle is beautiful. I was told this beforehand and took them at their word, but she actually is. You immediately love her, and a certain burden of worry just drops away -as you suddenly find yourself willing to do whatever it takes. Whatever it takes. Her parents had the glow, in case you were wondering, and given the circumstances and all that has happened over the past six months, I found this an uplifting, cheerful relief. I thank God for it.

At camp there were troubled youths of a different kind. I have seen kids have the best week of their lives, only to be picked up at the harbor by the parents that abuse them. We sent one kid home mid-week for possession of marijuana (nothing new.) As he was packing his bags, he actually asked if this meant that he couldn't be a counselor next year. Camp is everything to some of these kids. They look forward to it all year, have fun for a week, they get some much-needed love and attention, and then they go home where they are lost and neglected again. They turn to drugs, or something like it, and eventually they bring these vices to camp. When he was disciplined for it all -whereby we had to take from him the only two things that he really cared about: pot and camp- he flew into such a violent rage that it actually had me scared for my safety for a moment. We had to call in some heavier directors to apply restraint. When the boat showed up at the harbor in Long Beach after camp -he was there, waiting at the top of the ramp. He hugged his friends. He hugged the camp director who sent him home. He looked haggard and worn and depressed. I've seen it a hundred times.

And it's one of a thousand stories. You get home and someone whines about cutting their finger or a screw is missing from their dumb patio cover and you just want to slap them. Don't you see your petty troubles are meaningless nonesense in this world of real lovers, fighters, and survivors? Don't expect people to care about your little pains, but take solace in the fact that love is a never-ending fount. Any mother with more than one child will tell you this: that the love is not divided amongst the children. There's plenty to go around.

Just don't waste it.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

A bunch of us hiked in to Avalon the other day for root beer floats...

(Click me.)


Sunday, August 3, 2008

The first day of camp...

(Click me.)


Friday, August 1, 2008

The Little Ditchman may be finding her sense of humor, and it may well catch up with mine sooner than we want, but this comes as a very welcome and joyful discovery, for there is no more uplifting sound in the world than your child's laughter. The old adage is most likely true: you are as happy as your most unhappy child.

So she has taken to singing "Ring Around the Rosies" lately, which is pretty cute. She'll lay in bed in the morning and just start singing it, and then move on to "Happy Birthday" or "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". "Pop Goes the Weasel" she often sings too, though there aren't really any words to the thing for her (it just goes: "dunh duh-dunh duh-dunh-dunh-dunh-dunh... POP! goes the weasel..." and on and on.)

So we're singing "Ring Around the Rosies" and "Pop Goes the Weasel" the other day and she was really getting into it and at one point she accidentally messed up the words, so she said, "...ring around the wozzel" -a wozzel being some kind of half-breed love-child of roses and weasels, I guess. Anyway, the Little Ditchman found this utterly hilarious: ring around the wozzel -and she can't make it through the song without laughing so hard she froths at the mouth. (No, seriously. She froths at the mouth. There's no explaining it.) Now, if I ever want to make her laugh, I just sing ring around the wozzel... It makes me laugh too now, just thinking about it. I sing it on my own, at work.

We won't go into the themes of deadly plague, poverty, child labor, and alcoholism from which these nursery rhymes originate.

Another thing that makes her laugh: driving back from Vegas a few weeks ago we were doing whatever we could to keep her from going insane on the drive, and I spontaneously picked up the Little Einsteins dolls we had and set them on the dashboard. They didn't quite fit up there, and a lane change or fast stop would make the dolls fall off. Every time they fell I would make the Wilhelm scream and add "Oh no!" and she would laugh her head off. (Poor Einsteins.) At one point, I opened the sunroof and closed it on their little hands where they would swing around, hanging there. Then I would click open the sunroof where they would fall (cue Wilhelm scream: "Aaaahh!") Of course, she thought this was the funniest thing in the universe and we had to do it OVER AND OVER -but it was funny every time. As we got tired of the game, the Little Ditchman would yell out, "I wanna see June hang! I wanna see Annie hang!" I found this oddly morbid, but when she demanded that Quincy hang, it got pretty funny for me, too. "I WANT TO SEE QUINCY HANG! MAKE QUINCY HANG!"

Quincy is the black one.

Preschool will be interesting. Have a good weekend. (There will be no lynchings.)