Friday, July 30, 2004

Finally, another decent Daily Zen:

A temple, hidden, treasured
In the mountain’s cleft.
Pines, bamboo such a subtle flavor:
An ancient Buddha sits there, wordless
The welling source speaks for him.

- Yuan Mei (1716–1798)

The notion of wordless communication, of course, is classic Zen thought. What do you think? Can you tell me without using words?

Sunday, July 25, 2004

"Seinfeld" had the soup nazi; McDonalds now has the shoe nazi.  We were in Alexandria, LA, earlier today to visit our oldest son.  We went to the McDonalds closest to his residential school.  We've been there several times before, and the boys have always worn their shoes in the playland.  Today, however, an elderly employee shouted at the boys as they climbed into the play structures.  She then barked at me to take the boys' shoes off.  I ignored her.  The boys were up at the top anyway by that point, but the hag continued to gripe at them.  She left the playland area before DW came in with the food.  I thought we were done with this strange old bat, then I noticed her staring at the boys from the main dining room.  She went and told the manager on us, and he came in and told us that kids are not allowed to wear shoes because they might scuff up the plastic on the slides and climbing towers.  OS was seated at the table right then, so I took off his shoes.  He couldn't understand why I did that, and it totally ruined the experience for him.  He got upset, and DW took him to the car.  I had to pull YS from a tubular slide and take him to the car, kicking, screaming, biting, and scratching.  YS has put some nasty bites on me in recent days, so this was not appreciated.  Damn that shoe nazi!  Damn her straight to hell!

Monday, July 19, 2004

We watched the pilot of "Entourage" last night on HBO.  It's a show about wretched excess in Hollywood, with a young movie actor and his hanger-on best friends.  The show has promise, but it hasn't found its legs yet.  Marky Mark Wahlberg is one of the executive producers, and one would think he would know all about the subject matter of the show.  I'll keep watching this one, at least for the next few weeks.
I think "Six Feet Under" may have gone six feet under with last night's episode.  Most of the episode was devoted to David Fisher picking up a hitchhiker and being forced to drive him around Los Angeles.  The psycho hitchhiker ultimately poured gasoline on David, then drove off in David's van.  Along the way, the guy made David withdraw money from an ATM; dumped the corpse from David's van (David is a mortician); bought crack cocaine; made David smoke crack; had sex with David (who is gay); and made David help him catch a dog who turned out not to be his.  David had several obvious opportunities to escape or summon help -- most notably when the psycho hitchhiker left him tied up inside the van to go into a store, then he managed to untie himself -- but he either did nothing or blew his opportunities.  Give me a break!  It was like we were watching the first two seasons of "24" and David was the dim-witted Kim Bauer.  "24" is pure pulp and doesn't pretend to be anything else; "Six Feet Under" purports to be a drama with a touch of dark humor.  Or at least it did until last night.  I don't know if I'll be able to watch this turkey again, at least not this season.  

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Oy, such a morning!  I took YS to Chuck E. Cheese this morning.  Everything went fine until I made him let another kid go down the slide he was climbing up.  He went totally nuts, and I had six fresh bite marks on my wrists by the time I fastened him into his carseat.  Masochist that I am, I took him directly to PetSmart.  We followed a dog back into the grooming section, and YS gently petted the animal.  When the dog went back behind the door, YS went nuts again.  I had to pick him up and carry him from the store, with his head and arms wildly flailing around, trying to make contact.  I got his arms crossed and firmly immobilized, but he was able to bite me.  He got my entire left thumb into his mouth and bit down so hard my thumb briefly went limp.  I took him to the neighborhood playground, then home.  He's been fine ever since.  I've got a few bruises and bite marks, but no major damage.
Yesterday was a very good day.  We did PetSmart, Target, and a large local playground without incident.  YS is very good with dogs, and he loved PetSmart yesterday.  I'm thinking he was just terribly overstimulated yesterday and this morning and what I tried to do was just too much.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

One of the fringe benefits where I work is free parking for about half of our employees. We have to pack in the cars and frequently have to move other peoples' cars to get out. That's cool with all the employees except one, who has made her parking privileges a 10-year personal jihad. The latest is so funny as to be blogworthy.

This employee parks in the so-called 4:30 line, where everybody leaves at 4:30 p.m. The past few days, she has been placing a note on her steering wheel informing the rest of us that she does not consent to her car being moved before 4:37 p.m. The note explains that she turns off her computer at 4:30 when the computer clock says that it's 4:30, then she needs time to clean her desktop, gather her belongings, and get across the street. There is an allowance made for anybody who needs out during the day. The note is a full page long. The first note was taken from her vehicle and turned over to the the boss so he could deal with it. There is another copy of the note on her steering wheel today.

This coworker had been waiting until 4:45 or so to leave the garage, so as to miss the traffic from other parts of the garage at 4:30. Thus her vehicle often was moved into inconvenient places. Never dented or scraped, just moved. It doesn't affect me, as I park in another part of the garage. Still, it's damn funny.

Evidently I'm not the only person around here who needs to see a therapist.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

I have a confession of sorts. I've been fighting off an attack of depression the past couple of weeks. I seem to have bottomed out yesterday and today, and I may be pulling out a bit. A few good "Sopranos" episodes helped, and I've been very busy playing with Younger Son. I just ate some sushi from Sav-a-Center just for the hell of it, and doing stuff just for the hell of it is always a good sign. I like Sav-a-Center because they make a point of carrying Louisiana products, some of which are very difficult to find. I was more excited than I should have been to see New Orleans Nectar Soda at the checkout. Next thing you know they'll be carrying cream cheese ice cream.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Younger Son and I are having a very busy weekend while DW is in Utah/Idaho. Yesterday we spent two hours at a McDonald's playland, two hours in our backyard pool, and an hour running around PetSmart. YS got to pet a nice black Lab at the pet store, and ran around looking at fish and birds as usual. We just got back from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where YS spent three hours in the Gulf of Mexico. He is working on his dog-paddling technique and on his diving technique. He started diving down to the bottom to grab handfuls of sand. Other parents have their kids in floaties and tubes; I was tossing YS into the air and getting maniacal laughter once he came back up from under the water. Lest you think I'm totally negligent, we were never in more than three feet of water. I'm not sure what we'll do with the rest of the afternoon, but I'm sure I'll think of something. YS's transitions are problematic right now. I had to drag him from McDonald's and PetSmart yesterday kicking and screaming, and I've got a long scratch mark on my face from when I gently placed him into the car. I don't know why the people in the drive-thru line were looking at us like that. DW, of course, would like me to be putting together some bookshelves she bought last week. Oh well.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I got this in the mail recently:

Dear Friend,

I don't want to believe you've abandoned the Republican Party, but I have to ask . . . Have you given up?

Our records show we have not yet received your Republican National Committee membership renewal for the critical 2004 presidential election year.

. . . .

So I am surprised and concerned because I know how generously you have supported the RNC in the past and how instrumental your help was in electing a Republican President and Congress.

[yada, yada, yada]?

Mike Retzer

I was telling Craig just yesterday about receiving a similar fund-raising letter from my law school. The difference being that I had actually donated money to the law school in the past, and I was pissed when I got a letter saying that they were concerned because they hadn't heard from me. I have never given a dime to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party either, for that matter, so imagine how surprised I was to hear how generous I have been in the past. At the office, I get stuff from the DNC and I somehow was on John Edwards's mailing list. My magazine subscriptions or whatever must create an interesting profile -- am I an Edwards Republican? A Demopublican? A Republocrat? Just plain fucked-up?

DW is on an airplane bound for Utah. She will be attending a family reunion while YS and I hold down the fort here. YS is driving me nuts already, and we only got home from the airport 45 minutes ago. Last night he decided it would be fun to pour liquids onto the carpet and place little plastic things inside the resulting stains. So we've had two bottles of bubble bath, two cokes, and a bottle of carpet cleaner poured onto the run in the last 14 hours. I bring in the rug shampooer whenever he pours. The machines scares the hell out of him, and I want him to associate spilling with the machine. Meanwhile, I'm going through and putting any and all liquids out of reach. That's a really tall order when you think about it, so I'm sure I'll have more floor care opportunities this afternoon and tonight.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Well, this certainly was a fun day. I was moving in slow-mo this morning, so I was about half an hour late leaving Slidell to go pick up T. for the weekend. I forgot to take any wipes, which I usually take just in case. I needed gas too. So I got off in Covington, LA, got gas, and went to Target for the wipes. I had planned to hit Alexandria around 11:30; instead I got there at 12:00. No big deal, and we were on the road by 12:20. Okay, so if we stopped at my mother's house in Baton Rouge, we should still be home by 5:30.

T. needed more potty stops than usual, I supsect so he could manipulate me into buying snacks. After two potty stops, I bought him French fries in Opelousas. 30 miles later, in Henderson, he shouted "potty!" again. Of course, there's a McDonald's in Henderson, and he knows it. Okay, what the hell. Another potty stop and another order of fries.

We got back to the Interstate and traffic problem number one. There was a wreck 10 miles or so ahead, and we moved at a crawl for several miles. We got to about 15 miles outside Baton Rouge, where we hit traffic problem number two. There was a wreck somewhere inside Baton Rouge, and it had traffic pretty nearly stopped for 20 miles or so. There are no alternate routes, so we just had to move along at 15 mph. We got across the river into BR, and I took the first exit. We cruised through LSU and came out right by Barnes & Noble at 5:00. I took T. into B&N for a potty stop. The escalator totally freaked him out. I managed to get him to pee, then we went to the car.

We crawled along in BR rush hour for a few minutes, then T. shouted "pizza!" Okay, I thought, I'll find someplace after BR. Nope. T. has an uncanny sense for geography, and he remembered exactly where to go in Baton Rouge for pizza. He started screaming and kicking my seat when I passed that exit, so I had to backtrack and go to Pizza Hut. So we got our pizzas and came out shortly before 6:00.

Well, the pizza didn't quite do it for him, so he shouted "French fries!" as we neared an exit where there just happens to be a McDonald's. I thought I could get away with driving to the next town, but traffic came to a standstill. I maneuvered over to the left lane, which resulted in a big stinking tantrum. So I got back over and went to the Golden Arches. We went inside and to the bathroom. T. went, then I bought him fries and a root beer. T. wanted to play in the outdoor playland, which was locked up for the night. He started tantruming again, and I had to drag him to the car kicking and screaming.

Once we started moving again, T. threw his French fries at me, first one at a time, then the whole box. Then he threw his coke at me. Then he threw several Matchbox cars that A. had left in my back seat. He kept it up until we hit Walker, LA, where he said "potty!" insistently. So I got off on the Walker exit.

Wouldn't you know it? There was another freaking McDonald's! I pulled into a Shell station and waited for T. to settle down. I gave him his nighttime medications, then took him into the station to use the bathroom. The toilet was amazingly filthy, so I took him right back out. I drove him to a Wendy's down the street, where he finally went poop. We got back in the car and he said "French fries! Coke!" Not what I wanted to hear, but I was way into bribery by this time, so he got what he wanted. We got back to Slidell around 8:20, and we didn't even stop at my mother's house. So what is usually a 4.5 hour ride (including potty stops) was an 8 hour ordeal. And the weekend is just beginning!

I just made the rounds on the blog-o-rama. Everybody looks like they're doing fine, but I kind of miss the legal and philosophical musings of my downstairs coworker. With the Supreme Court acting like it's on crack, this would be a great time for some commentary.

Anyhow, I'm off to fetch Oldest Son for the 4th of July weekend. I'm going by myself -- he loves having one-on-one time with me, and me picking him up alone is a great way for him to have that. We'll go to Target and McDonald's, like we do on local visits up there, then I'll surprise him by turning south instead of north.