Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Fear the Worst

Last Sunday evening, I was invited by a good friend (I'll call him George) to hit some softballs at a local batting cage.  Being that the softball season in Minnesota is approaching quickly, I jump at any and all chances I can whack a few.  I want to make sure my swing is in better form than last year and maybe even hit one out of the infield during the season.  I'm too old to run hard to first base anymore.  That's for the young kids.

We each bought three tokens which gave us an average of twenty machine-pitched balls per token.  Then we jumped into the cage.  George had a great swing that day and knocked only two balls into the turf and one or two would have been pretty easy pop-ups.  Other than that, he was quite impressive.  Then it was my turn. I also had a great swing.  My stance was balanced, I twisted with my eyes locked on the contact and my head stayed straight with the swing.  I even squished the bug.  I'd say about 85% of the hits were decent enough to get me to first base.

When I was done, lathered up and feeling good, I left the cage so George could use his second token.  But, being the nice guy he is, he had let half a dozen people in front of him.  So we had to wait.  About ten minutes later,  George suggested we jump into the 45 mph fast-pitch softball tunnel.  I obliged, having never done that before and ready for a good challenge.

George's session was terrible.  The pitched balls seemed to be either too high or too low but never just right.  He swung through some, ticked a few into the cage behind him, beat a bunch into the ground, and walked away with about three or four solid hits.  I watched him and decided that I would have a horrible time catching up with this new speed and angle.

To the contrary.  I let one ball past to get the speed, widened my stance, and switched my brain into timing mode, rather than mechanics and sighting the balls arch.  I caught up with the second ball and creamed it into the far net.  I missed one or two, but for the most part, I would have been drafted into the minor leagues immediately.  I was a pro.  My heart was beating faster and adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I got prouder and more self-confident in my ability to compensate and be the best of the best.

It was over too quickly.  But, by that time, the line at the slow-pitch tunnel had disappeared and it was open.  George jumped in first and missed the first ball, then beat three or four into the turf.  He looked back at me and laughed, saying that the 45 mph tunnel had ruined his swing for the entire season.  But, the awesome hitter he was, he caught on to his old form and ripped the rest of the pitches into space. 

It was my turn and I was ready.  Still pumping with adrenaline and feeling like pretty hot stuff, I stepped up to the plate.  The ball was pitched, I watched the arc, watched the point of contact, paid attention to all the mechanics....and missed.  I missed!!!!  I miss a softball about twice a year.

So, I shook it off and waited for the next pitch.  I missed, and missed again, and again, and again.  I swung through seven or so pitches before I decided I needed to bunt in order to actually feel contact again.  I missed the bunt.  I was yelling and laughing at the same time.  I looked back and George was dying.  He had a professional softball coach beside him and they were both shaking their heads, saying they had never seen anything like it.

Then the pro started yelling pointers.  I did everything he said.  And missed, and missed......and missed....and missed.  I dialed my eyes into a better position, feeling the blood shot veins pop out, making it difficult for my lids to blink....and missed, and missed again.  I bunted...and I hit one!  Then I missed.  I focused hard on the arc, the flight, the bat, the speed, the sounds of the place, the smells, anything and everything that might increase my senses and get me back to where I had been only fifteen minutes before.

And I missed. All twenty pitches and I had exactly one hit, and it had been a lousy bunt.  I finished, hanging my head.  All the girls, hundreds of them, who had sided up to the fence and had ogled at my previous success were gone.  The younger players who had drooled at my form and hitting prowess, wishing they could have the slightest iota of my talents had disappeared.  The professional coach was disappearing through a doorway, noticeably shaking his head.  The place was empty.  I felt like I was a New York Yankee who had just been traded to Kansas City and then summarily released, only to be picked up as the future of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

George was trying to be nice and not laugh.  He suggested I buy more tokens - the funniest thing he had said all day.  We built a scenario of me popping token after token into the machine missing hundreds of balls, solidifying my fate for the rest of my life.  It was better to just leave, shake off the 45 mph distraction and come back to kill the ball a week later.

I just hope nobody is there when I miss the next thousand.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Qualifying My Reserved Excitement For US Action In Libya

In this post, I will not be addressing the Constitutionality of the United States going to war without the approval of Congress.  I admit that I need to study that more and desire to look through history and see how we have treated our entanglements without the people's consent.  I know we have.  Secondly, I am not going to address the right of the United Nations to use their power to coerce our sovereign nation into full scale battle.  I dislike the United Nations thoroughly and would that it never existed as it is now.  I find it to be full of mushy minds, uninterested in reality and deep thinking.  But, again, that's for another post.

What I want to convey here is my happiness at what America is doing in Libya.  I disagree with President Obama's assertion that it was necessary for us to go to war to protect the freedom of people in general.  I don't think that is our right - to be meddling in the affairs of a sovereign nation, merely because we disagree with the current policies. 

Sure, Qaddafi  was killing his people and is a defiant, ruthless pig of a human being.  But, in many ways, so was Stalin.  We used him for an ally in the second world war.  So also is the royal family of Saudi Arabia, frequently enforcing Sharia law which includes lashings for raped women and the cutting off of hands for those that steal.  If we want to have a discussion about freedom, we need to entangle ourselves on many fronts.  Heck, we should attack the aforementioned as well as China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, half the continent of Africa, and Antarctica to protect the freedom of the melting ice.  If we policed the world with the "freedom" philosophy - or better wrapped up with a bow - American democracy for all, we should never stop.

But, even though Obama qualifies our action in Libya as a protection of freedom for its citizens, I am still happy we have entered the fray.  For the simple reason that they asked.  Yes.  They asked!

A rebel spokesman, Mustafa Gheriani, said the following:

"We are telling the west we want a no-fly zone, we want tactical strikes against those tanks and rockets that are being used against us and we want a strike against Gaddafi's compound."

That is exactly what we are doing.  Sure, they are not a sovereign nation per se, but France recognized the rebel "government" in Benghazi as a legitimate nation.  After all, France assisted the United States in our quest for freedom from England during the Revolutionary war.  And most of what they did was just to shell British strongholds from the sea. Also, during the American Civil War, England and France assisted the South by building them ships under the radar and flirted with a larger entanglement, including almost starting a second front by invading the Union from Canada. Help for the South only soured after Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively stabbing a proverbial dagger into the heart of the rebel cause, being that the world abolition movement had nearly erased slavery from all corners of the western world.  Can we say brilliant?

I am convinced that if America was attacked and we requested assistance from the world, we would weep as our countrymen fell on the field of battle while the other nations of the world argued on principle. Even if the attack was from our own government and the request for assistance was from the "rebel" cause.

We have the means.  They asked.  We answered.  Let's get in, get it done, and then get out, letting them build their new country as they see fit.  If they want democracy, more power to them.  If they want a broken network of non-flush toilet tribes, then so be it.  I look forward to the afterglow of our latest entanglement.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Not Sure I Can Handle It

Something horrible happened today.  I was sitting in my comfortable semi-ergonomic black leather office chair - that I got for free when a bank I used to work for got rid of their old furniture - when my eldest daughter stomped out of the bathroom (powder room?) behind me and sniffled.  Then, with a mostly audible wail, she complained about her hair not cooperating with whatever hair fixing instruments she happened to be using at the time.

The problem:  She's 8 years old!  And her hair is about 4 inches long!

I grow hair twice that long by the time I need a haircut and it looks just fine when I rub my fingers through it in the morning.  If it is stubborn and wants to stick straight up or in every direction imaginable, I sprinkle on a bit o' water or just put on a hat.  Sometimes I merely convince myself that messy is the new neat.  Nothin' to it.  Why can't she just do the same?

Really, all I'm doing is revealing how utterly insensitive I am going to be when she reaches her prime age for complaining about everything from her lash color to her toenail length.  She'll probably even notice when I have a nose hair sticking a nanometer out of my schnoz.

Please help me learn how to handle this.  I cannot even fathom what life will be like in 5 years when its already at this level!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Kids Can't Have Fun Anymore

When I was a kid, Saturday morning consisted of Looney Tunes and Dukes of Hazard.  And I turned out just fine.  I can read, write, think, speak Spanish, and dance with purple dinosaurs, all without external inputs that convince me at a young impressionable age that those things are important.

I went to the doctor the other day with my squirts and they begged to go watch the flat screen television, blaring out cartoons.  Cartoons?  If you call Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, Curious George, and Clifford...cartoons.

Cartoons should be fun!  Kids don't need a shallow moral message every time they watch something that is supposed to be baseless and pointless fun (Looney Tunes).  They don't need to learn to speak a hybrid form of Spanish that would get you kicked out of any Spanish speaking neighborhood for blatant disrespect (Dora the Explorer).  They don't need to be taught that all naughty things are normal paths to good luck (Curious George).  Also, hard work does not need to look easy, with every project having a moral lesson attached to it, usually resembling the evil of making a buck (Bob the Builder).  Not to mention, purple singing dinosaurs should be handled by Toy Story's mean boy neighbor.

Bring us back violence.  Bring us back immoral capitalism.  Give us pictures of scantily clad rabbits and pigs with too much lipstick.  Give us the love of baseball as our national pastime in animation.  Give us evil, wicked magicians that get their due, even if a stupid carrot eating rabbit is morally worse.  Give us lithping big nosed, fat people shooting wabbits with indirect shots from an unsighted french revolutionary cap gun.  Bring us back cars that jump and cops that one day are on your side and the next are on the opposite side, working against your morals for the express reason of having a car chase at the end.  Bring us back excitement, geography, world history lessons - fun!

Kids need to escape the framed world of good and evil.  They need to empty their minds and enjoy themselves to enjoy themselves.  Sometimes, to stop thinking and get lost in a fantasy world is a good thing.

And...adults could learn to eat their vegetables.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Incomplete Political Rubrics

The following phrases will be heard in every political circle imaginable.  The translation follows each phrase.

Phrase: “Everything will be on the table.”

Translation 1:“There are many ideas which I could put my weight behind, but I am not sure which one will get me elected, as of yet.  So, I’m going to wait until the polls come in, or my opponent takes a position, then I can take the opposite one.”

Translation 2: “Please move on to the next question.  I have absolutely no idea how to answer this question.  If you ask it again, I will talk for 10 minutes, twisting in circles, until you are completely confused, and move on, shaking your head, thinking I might or might not have answered your question.”

Translation 3: “I don’t bloody know.”


Phrase: “We need more bipartisanship.”

Translation 1: “If only the other side would come over to our side, things would be better.”

Translation 2: “Screw all parties that are not Republican and Democrat.”


Phrase: “Read my lips.  No new taxes.”

Translation: “That is, unless they’re necessary or politically expedient.”


Phrase: “The rich need to pay their fair share.”

Translation: “I’m sure freakin’ glad they don’t tax wealth!”


Phrase: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

Translation: “I am a jelly-filled doughnut.


Phrase: “I apologize to those I offended.”

Translation: “&%@$$!  I got caught with my hand in the cookie jar!  I’m sorry to all who don’t agree with what I said.  For those who do - I MEANT IT!”


Phrase: “We’re apolitical.”

Translation 1: “We hope you don’t check our one-sided political contributions.”

Translation 2: “We really believe in our message and don’t really care what party, if any, takes up our cause.”


Phrase: “My opponent is against [Insert phrase like “veterans” or “babies” or “the Catholic Church” or “sex” here]”

Translation: “My opponent said something very intelligent and I have no comeback.  So, I’ll pick a word or two from his widely accepted speech and twist it around to make him look like a fool.”


Phrase: “Bomb, bomb, bomb…bomb, bomb, Iran”

Translation: “I got nothin’.”


Phrase: “We don’t need to spend more, we need to spend smarter.”

Translation 1: “We need to spend more and apply more layers of bureaucracy in order to appear as if we’re doing something.”

Translation 2: “I have no real ideas.  This just sounds really cool!”

Translation 3: “There is no way in hell we will cut government spending.”


Phrase: “The other side is obstructing the process.”

Translation: “Dag-nammit!  They found the parliamentary rules that give them every right to do what they’re doing so that, even if we hold a majority of members, we cannot move forward on our current agenda.  Let’s throw a fit and hope people have short term memories so that, when we are the party out of power, we can do the exact same thing!”


Phrase: “I’m honored to be a public servant.”

Translation 1: “I will fight to the death to stay here for at least 30 years so that my public servant hood will guarantee me a sweet, unheard of, golden parachute pension, as well as current health benefits that rival cash paying billionaire’s plans.”

Translation 2: “Don’t notice that I don’t give a rip what my constituency cares about.  Just that I am in office speaks for itself.”

Translation 3: “I’m honored to be a public servant and when I’m done, I’ll go back into the private sector and be very successful due to the great policies I helped implement.”


Phrase: “…tax cuts for the rich!”

Translation: “Being rich is evil.  Unless you are a politician who is rich – but thinks being rich is evil.  And, even if we, being rich AND humble public servants, take advantage of the same loopholes and tax havens as all those other evil rich people, at least we do a head fake and make you think that we aren’t really that rich.  Oh, and those who are politicians and are not rich….well….they can’t be trusted.”


Phrase: “…tax cuts for the middle class!”

Translation: “We know we can’t say ‘tax cuts for the poor – our biggest constituency’ because they don’t pay taxes anyway. And yelling about tax cuts for the rich is getting old and harder than heck to stand behind (because we’re rich too!).”



Translation: “I’m just plain havin’ fun!”

Enjoy!  Of course, there are many more.  And many more will be created in this next political cycle.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

When Love Begins

In January of this year, we bought an elephantine mansion in the small hovel of Farmington, Minnesota.  We passed up a much larger estate in the mature city of Orono.  The $62,000 annual property tax bill, not to mention the price tag of $32,000,000 for the place, was a bit much to swallow.  So, we settled for a 4000 square foot Victorian era mansion for the steep foreclosure price tag of $176,000.  The $3600 in property taxes was also a bitter pill to swallow, but, in my opinion, quite reasonable, considering our excellent schools and perpetually plowed streets.

Yes.  For those of you who are not from Minnesota, plowed streets factor into a home buying decision before location to schools, proximity to parks, city and county government’s ear to the public, whether or not the paint is falling off the house, running water, and even working electricity.  Without the streets being plowed, we have to remove our 13 inch Rolls-Royce Phantom spinners with the offset weights and install our 18 inch Blizzak LM-60 snow tires, wrap on our tire chains, snap on the snow plow, and hope for the best.  Doing this on my 1998 Saturn SL2 Dual Overhead Camshaft four-banger can be quite a challenge, but here in the great North, I have it down to a flat five minute procedure.

Speaking of snow plowing – the other day my wife and I were out shoveling the driveway, being too cheap to purchase a lousy snow blower,  when I heard a diesel engine behind me and a honk of a loud horn.  I looked over my shoulder to see a city front loader sitting back about ten feet.  The man in the cab was waving me off.  So, I jumped out of the way and he plowed out the six foot snowdrift at the end of my driveway.  After doing this, he jumped out of the loader and shook our hands, introduced himself as our neighbor, and left.  THAT is a consideration in buying a house as well, though I don’t recommend walking away from a home, based on lack of neighborly charity. 

We moved to Farmington from the larger Twin Cities suburb of Eden Prairie.  The school district there was fraught with nationalistic politics.  The schools themselves were excellent at education, for the most part, but lacked the personal touch with parents.  It felt as if they cared more about the world’s perception of their medium sized community school district than what the parents needed or desired.  This fact played no small part in our moving away. 

On the other hand, Farmington was full of back-country hicks.  My wife called the school office only one time to register the kids.  When she called back a week later, the office manager recognized her voice and bellowed out a hearty “Hullo!”, calling my wife by her first name.  The teachers have an agenda to get to know the parents and work in partnership with them to provide the smartest, directed educational program to each individual child.  The principal grabs little babies the minute they walk in the door of the school and prances around with them as if he has just won the Boston Marathon.  His smile twinkles through his unshaven cheeks and trimmed chin beard while he welcomes you with a personalized harrumph and hello.  With this family atmosphere, anyone would want to participate in extra-curricular school events to enhance the experience for the whole community.

On a cold night last week, Farmington Elementary held a Read-in.  My wife was busy troweling on Mary Kay make-up with a very good looking young lady who was wicked good with children – turning a carbon copy sheet of paper into a much desired toy of the century in thirty seconds with all five of my older squirts.  I left her to her personalized Home Shopping Network and took the four oldest to school.

The Read-in was split up into three classroom sessions where teachers, staff, and members of the Farmington Community would do nothing more than read their favorite book to those who came to listen.  They had fifteen minutes to do so and then everyone would move on to the next classroom.  At the end, we were to meet, all together, in the auditorium.

When we walked into the school, my third grader pulled us in the direction of her classroom, my first grader yelled that her classroom was where we needed to point our feet, my kindergartner shook with excitement and then channeled that excitement into loud boasting about his school knowledge, and my three year old walked right up to the registration table, grabbed a cookie and a cup of apple juice, and walked down the hall.  We obediently followed her, right into the first classroom that had a teacher in it reading a book.  Yes, she was reading a book.  My cackling crew yelled their way into the door, bursting with pleasure, fighting over who had the bigger cookie or even a cookie at all.  My first grader was grabbing cookies away from everyone else at random, making darn sure the portions were even, across the board, regardless of age, weight, or fatherly favoritisms.

The whole classroom looked back at us.  I giggled (yeah, I do that sometimes), shoved the kids toward the reading carpet, grabbed away their cookies, ate two of them, spilled a cup of juice, shoved their coats down in a chair, grabbed a little kiddie chair, spun it around and straddled it.  I was in.  The parents looked at me with awe.  Here I am – a dad of six kids and I can take them to school at night all by myself, getting enough to snack on in the process.

The three sessions went fast with only one awkward moment that was actually quite sweet.  My three year old daughter was sitting in my lap in the back of a classroom with a dad from the community reading a book about modern day New York horse stables, sucking her thumb.  In a flash, she popped her thumb out of her mouth, jumped off my lap, scooted right up to the man, knelt down, staring into his eyes, and began rubbing his leg.  I rolled.  Why bother teaching them “proper” social graces?  They’ll have their lives ruined soon enough, by attempting to “fit in” in their middle school years.  I’d rather they enjoy being themselves now, and maybe get used to it, so they stay individuals, throughout life.

We made our way to the auditorium.  When we walked into the large room, my first grader yelped that we should make the long climb to the top of the risers and sit with our backs against the wall, thirty feet up from the floor.  Of course, being a man of adventure, I obliged.  I sat down with my three year old on my right, cuddled up to me, sucking her thumb, my third grader to her right, and the other two on my left.

My third grader piped up, “Daddy, I’m going to go sit with my friends,” and she subsequently disappeared.  My kindergartner then noticed that a classmate of his was sitting twenty rows below with her mother.  He informed me that he was going to sit with her and climbed down the risers and squished up to the girl.  The mom was pleased and commenced with a long conversation, asking many pre-relationship questions.  I’m happy that I’ve prepped my son with all the right answers to win the heart of the parents of the girl he has the hots for.  She was won.  Then, my first grader left to sit with my kindergartner, then moved off to disappear with some of her friends.  My three year old rubbed my arm, looked up in my face and said, “Daddy, it’s just us twos.” 

 That it was. That it was. I felt slightly alone in the world, but very, very proud.  My kids had made friends.  They were much more advanced than I was at their age.  I never made any real friends until ninth grade.  Life was good.

After the final reading, we all found each other and walked back to our car to make the short trip home.  Everyone chattered away loudly.  But, through it all, my kindergartner could be heard, mumbling under his breath – “I miss Anabelle.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Foreign Entanglements - Why Still?

I will preface this post with the obligatory disclaimer, whenever one is speaking about our troops:  I greatly appreciate the service that our troops do for our country.  For a human being to voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way, regardless of the outcome, is noble and heroic.

Unfortunately, that is as far as I go.  If the most recent war were the Revolutionary War or either of the World Wars, I may be more apt to give our military commanders and those at higher levels of the area of government that oversees our military some benefit of the doubt.  But, I cannot.  I say this, even though some of my good friends are and were in the United States Armed Forces.  In fact, my brother-in-law has made the Army his professional career, about to be shipped out to Afghanistan this month for his first tour of duty.

Many times, in the past decade, I have heard individuals praise our military men and women for their service to our country.  Again, I do not disagree, by definition.  But, it seems that the consensus is such that our fighting folk are out in the world attempting to maintain our freedoms and our American way of life.  I cannot, for the life of me, reconcile this last point.  I do not understand how our foreign adventurism into Iraq, Afghanistan’s current war definition, Bosnia, Vietnam, Korea, and more recently, the beating of the war drums to go into Libya, protects our freedoms and American way of life.

After September 11, 2001, our government determined that the attack had been devised, planned, and orchestrated by an evil, murderous organization by the name of Al Qaeda.  I hadn’t heard of them before, except for little tidbits after the U.S.S. Cole was attacked in 2003.  But, now, this tiny, havoc wreaking group of people had broken onto the front pages of every newspaper in the world.  Al Qaeda was no longer a theoretical, movie plot birthing, possibility.  They were here - and here to stay – at least until the sleeping giant obliterated them from the face of the earth.

America woke up to the fact that, though we weren’t in the Middle East, or even a stone’s throw away, in Europe, or across a desert and a mountain range or two, in Russia, we were still as vulnerable to a terrorist attack on our home soil.  America’s way of life and enviable freedoms were at stake.  And we responded.  Not by lobbing a few missiles into a few camel behinds, but by putting together a very successful campaign to root Al Qaeda out of their home turf – Afghanistan.

I remember very well, the Northern Alliance and the elation they showed when the Taliban fell.  I read book after book, news stories and blogs, about the terrors of the Taliban’s iron-fisted pseudo-theocratic rule.  I read about Russia’s land war in the rugged mountains of this seemingly backward country.  I thoroughly enjoyed stories like “The Kite Runner,” that depicted life before the Russian invasion and the subsequent Taliban victories.   I became enraged at how these rulers pretended to have utmost respect for their God, but instead, had only a thirst for more power, mutilating, maiming, and murdering those who dared get in their way.  My heart skipped a beat when this evil “government” fell so easily.  Our casualties were light and the alliance we had formed with the native people was what I thought at the time, a glowing example for future battle plans.

Ten years later, I sit here, wondering what became of our victory.  We uprooted Al Qaeda, losing Osama bin Laden in the process.  We think he is somewhere in Pakistan – an off and on ally in our purported quest for world peace.  The Taliban are gaining footholds all across the country.  Their power in the northern part of Afghanistan is growing quickly.  The government of Hamid Karzai is more reminiscent of our history with the west’s propped up Shah of Afghanistan’s neighbor, Iran, in the middle 20th century.  It is becoming more apparent that the people in Afghanistan want us gone at any cost.  We have lost our way.

No longer is this fight about terrorism.  All of our current foreign entanglements have gone the way of the much maligned nation building.  Our former President, George W. Bush, spoke about democracy in the Middle East.  Now, our current President, Barrack Obama is maintaining the status quo.  My first question is very simple – why still?

What if the people of the Middle East don’t want democracy?  What if they are just fine with nomadic, tribal, loosely knit family government systems?  Why do we not look back at the myriad examples of history and see that empire building begets only one result – destruction of said empire?  Why can’t we look at Egypt and even if the Muslim Brotherhood (or whomever is or will be in charge for that matter) are radical murderous people like they say they aren’t, and yet let them do as they please, maintaining a powerful domestic national defense to deter any attack from them or their emissaries?  In short, why can’t we let people of other countries rule themselves?

We love our way of life in this country.  We believe in the truth and strength of our Constitution and our laws.  We have freedom like no other country has ever had before.  Since our inception, we have enjoyed wealth beyond the dreams of any nation in the history of the world.  But, I am convinced it has gone to our heads.  Democracy may work for us and be completely wrong for others.  Elected, representative government is a great idea for the United States, but may be entirely backwards for those not inclined to peaceful negotiations, as we are.

Let me put forth a novel solution.

Bring the boys and girls home.  All of them.  Let us no longer foray out into the world to make others more like us, but rather create the beacon on a hill where the world, with all of its sorrows, can see the shining light, and find their way to the new Ellis Island, ready to begin a new life.  Let us show the world what true freedom and happiness is, rather than force it upon them.  Let them see and hear the theoretical American democracy and desire to feel and live it for themselves.  Let us be – heaven on earth for all the oppressed.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Morbid License Question - Part 2

My Lips:

Well...that's enough.  On to another subject.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Morbid License Question

The home address on my Minnesota Driver's license has been outdated for about two years.  It's high time I get it renewed.  I drive like a tottery old grandpaw, escaping the watchful eye of our hard-working law enforcement.  I really don't have a problem getting the thing renewed.  Its just that I haven't had the't thought of doing it in my free time - of which I have none.

While I wait for the day when my lazy feet take me to the door of the new licensing center in our town, I have the enviable opportunity to sit and reflect on my answer when the inevitable question from the elderly, over-permed, gray haired, sing-songy voiced lady comes my way.

"Would you like to be an organ donor?"

Now, normally, I consider myself quite a nice person.  If I don't like someone, I can at least pretend that I do, with gusto.  But, if I answer this question in the affirmative, it would be a great disservice to the scores of individuals who would be the unlucky buggars to get my parts.

Let's start from the top and work our way down to the toes.

My hair:

I work in an office where the only approved chair is black colored with a faded slate plastic base.  Unfortunately, I am constantly being reprimanded because I appear to have a white chair.  It's not my fault.  I shampoo with shampoos that claim they relieve dryness so well, they apply a few more sandbags in Fargo.  I even switch shampoos.  I use reverse psychology on my scalp and try anti-oily shampoos.  I have applied Indian oils which causes much nose twitching throughout the day while around anyone and everyone.  Oh, and my hair is gray colored.

My sebaceous glands:

If I don't take a 45 minute shower every day, fleas use my head for toboggan practice.  Scientists have used my sebaceous excretions for the next generation of non-stick cooking materials.  It is all natural and can heat up to 1500 degrees, not to mention the abilty to scrape it clean with steel wool, which would be unnecessary being that it is non-stick material - scientific material to boot.  You would think that my glands would reduce my dandruff.  Not a chance. I have a hat collection that would turn the Queen of England's head.  But, its only because I need a daily hat to wear.  After 24 hours, the hat is so pungent with my slippery noggin's oils, it slides down over my ears and begs for a wash.  I must oblige.

My ears:

I guess there is nothing wrong with my ears.  I live in a 4000+ square foot home (that we got for a screaming foreclosure deal) and I can hear my six children spilling water on the third floor while I am using a Craftsman 18780 Evolv 12 Amp Corded 7 Inch Circular Saw with a diamond blade to cut limestone blocks to build my climate controlled 450 square foot wine cellar in the basement.  But, I consider excellent hearing a curse.  My 97 year old grandfather is the luckiest man alive.  His selective hearing can be used as a weapon - keeping him out of many a family argument or sticky situation, or even just a visit with the in-laws.  I'm jealous.

My cheeks:

I shave once a week so the shock to the skin makes skin moisturizers act like desert rain.  They do nothing but slide right off.  This causes my perpetual eczema on the side of my mouth to enjoy its day in the sun, or the office fluorescent light.  If I use creams on the eczema, it brightens the sores up like a Christmas tree.  I have caused numerous accidents on my trips in to work.  Kristine tries to tell me its because I'm very handsome, but I know better. be continued...   (I'm being called to clean the house.  Check back for the next thing on the list - my lips)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Curiously Disappearing Stench of Meat

In Minnesota, we have an average of about four days where the mercury rises above the 100 mark.  Those days are usually linked together by similar tempered nights.  By the time the warm spell is over, everyone is exhausted, hunkering down in front of the nearest fan or cuddling up by the closest air conditioning vent.  People who hate the taste and penitent obligation of drinking water suddenly go through a religious experience and drink gallons by the day.  Toilets are infrequently used, being that the water taken in is excreted through sweat glands and pores that mysteriously appear during the heat wave and then disappear, just as quickly, only to return as goosebumps on goosebumps the rest of the year.  Constipation increases.

Then, the stench begins.  First, slowly, then as the days progress, the air begins to get heavy with the smell of rotting flesh.  Any long grassed ditch one passes, if they fail to close their nose, the stomach spasms will inevitably commence.  Road kill that was tossed into the ditch by Minnesota law enforcement permeates the air with its sweet sickly smell.

This is what I smelled throughout my childhood whenever I came home to the frying of ground beef.  My initial reaction would be to wrinkle my nose and keel over, holding the back of my knees, breathing heavily.  Then, when I would realize it was edible food, my mouth would begin to water and I would hungrily look forward to dinner.  Ground beef, in those years, never tasted like it smelled.  But, the distinction was clear.

Then I grew up.  Meat has lost its smell and kept its flavor.  What happened?  Are we using different animal feed?  Did all ground beef used to rot in the grocery store but taste fine after cooking it?  Did the grocery stores in Northeast Minneapolis secretly stock a rat and ferret mix and call it ground beef, knowing that it would smell like rotting meat and taste like beef?  If that is the case, why does all other meat taste like chicken but a rat and ferret mix taste like beef?  Or, does beef taste like a rat and ferret mix without the stench while it is fried?

I need answers.