Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Yes, yes, fire, fire, fire!" - Beavis, Beavis and Butt-Head

Original Post Date 5/25/05

This is your tourist on fire. Any questions?
(click on picture for larger, more smoldery version)

Tourists are a love-hate proposition for Alaskans. It seems that this is the case in any scenic state I've visited/lived in, like Colorado or Maine. Internet research done by me (actually that was too difficult, so I’m making all this up) shows that 85.4% of tourists want to go somewhere where things are prettier than the things they get to see at home. This would explain why I like to vacation at Target®.

Folks love that the tourists spend money.

Folks hate the fact that the tourists actually had the gall to come and visit.

While it would seem like it might be logical and have the tourists just send the money directly to the residents of (insert scenic location name here), most tourists that I have suggested that they consider that theft. Especially when guns are involved. Then they call the police. Theft, taxation, redistribution of income - seems like such a quibble to me.

Factually, the economy of places like Fairbanks depend greatly on tourism - in winter one can rent an entire wing of a hotel for a single sea otter pelt. In summer, a single unfurnished closet in that same hotel can only be rented months in advance, with a deposit of an actual human kidney and first option on any usable organs you might have, plus copyright to your DNA. You sign a waiver so the organ donation doesn't depend on a death time of your own choice. They decide when they want the organs. Don't even ask the actual cash price of the room, since if you do, a saucy French man named Jacques will sternly fap you about the face with white linen gloves and look at you very sternly.

The Princess Cruise Lines (of the same company that brought America the term "Lido Deck") operates a hotel here, just so they can suck one more dollar from the marrow that is a tourist's wallet that they:
  • already boated in to Anchorage,
  • bused in to Denali, and then
  • had immigrant porters deliver to Fairbanks riding piggyback.
In fact, tourists on a Princess tour (as near as I've witnessed - having made most of this up already) rarely interact with anything remotely related to Alaska.

Which is good.

Alaska is a state where one can easily step out of the tour bus, straight into the food chain. Don't believe me? I saw a t-shirt that said exactly that, so it must be true. And the cartoon bears on the shirt looked very hungry. Imagine putting a person from, say, Iowa into a group of cartoon bears. Oh, my, the pic-a-nic baskets that would be stolen.

Actually, I think it's more common for folks to be eaten by bears up here than to be killed in traffic accidents. I'm not sure, and research would take time, so I'll make up a statistic that says that you are 17 times more likely to be eaten by bears in Alaska than to meet Christopher Walken in an alley. 17 times!

So, the moral of the story? Friends don't let friends be tourists on fire. And friends don’t let friends quote made-up Internet statistics.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"The Doctor is initiating hostile action." - a Dalek, Doctor Who

Not my left armpit, but The Boy's. And, yes, he's in a hot tub holding an icicle. Fairbanks picture.

The Mrs. felt that my last post was “stream of consciousness.” I agree. I must have been ill, or something.

It wasn’t the something, I’m just ill.

The symptoms started a few weeks ago, and, since I got my medical degree courtesy of Teh Intratubes, I diagnosed myself. A simple problem that would go away in a few days. (The symptom itself was odd, akin to “When I comb my hair while thinking about ABBA singing Waterloo a sharp pain hits my left armpit.”) I was convinced it was my ovaries. The Mrs. politely informed me I didn’t have ovaries. One theory shot to ribbons. Maybe my fallopian tubes?

Needless to say, I avoided thinking about ABBA, even though my real symptom had nothing to do with Frida, Agnetha, Björn or Benny. The symptoms didn’t even relate to anything remotely Swedish. Let’s repeat a portion of the above using the miracle of Bork Text, hmm? That might shed a clue.

Zee symptums sterted a foo veeks egu, und, seence-a I gut my medeecel degree-a cuoortesy ooff Teh Intretoobes, I deeegnused myselff. A seemple-a prublem thet vuoold gu evey in a foo deys. (Zee symptum itselff ves oodd, ekeen tu “Vhee I cumb my heur vheele-a theenking ebooot ABBA seenging Veterluu a sherp peeen heets my lefft ermpeet.”)

There. That’s better.

So, after the symptoms added a few other friends, and self medication (with bicarbonate of soda, no less) proved fruitless I decided it was time to go to the doctor.

I described my symptoms to the nurse. “Vhee I cumb my heur vheele-a theenking ebooot ABBA seenging Veterluu a sherp peeen heets my lefft ermpeet.” She laughed. I replied, no, really.

Then the next nurse did my blood pressure. My blood pressure is normally a nice 110/75 or so. Has been for years. Except . . . the bicarbonate of soda loaded my system so full of salt that the blood pressure cuff nearly burst due to the retained water in my system.

Ouch. They were even more upset about that then my lefft ermpeet peeen.

I called off the paramedics, swore up and down that I would not start sweating blood from my lefft ermpeet. The Doctor came in and asked a series of questions, to which I gave satisfactory answers. She looked at the medical student that accompanied her and said, “It might be better if you left.”


“I need to perform THE EXAM.” (THE EXAM is the one that all males have been conditioned since junior high to dread. Me? I was on a clock not to need THE EXAM for a very long time. The poster on the wall said I had a good part of this century to wait until I had THE EXAM.

“Would you rather a male doctor about this?” Ummm.

“Did you go to medical school?”


“Fine with me.”

So, the nice doctor did THE EXAM, making my lefft ermpeet scream in agony in the process. She also invalidated all of the cleverly crafted theories that I had concocted after visits to various Intratube sites. She said I had Wilder’s Syndrome. How could I not see that coming? Not contagious, not life-threatening, not caused by my lifestyle, just a thing that happens now and again. Probably will never be bothered by it again in my life. She gave me a photocopied sheet describing the problem, a prescription, and a sheet to fill out to make sure my blood pressure really was normal (as of today back to 115/78 – totally normal).

The down side?
No spicy foods. Does that include Nachos?
Avoid sunlight like I was a vampire.
No coffee.
No tea.
No beer until I get better.

So, I spent the better part of this long holiday weekend stuck to the couch (more than usual), alternating between sleeping and reading. I finished one short story anthology, one non-fiction book, and one novel. I finished the novel with The Boy on my chest, asking me how many pages were left. Every thirty seconds.

So, as I suck down my third “O’Doul’s” of the night, I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’m also grateful for O’Doul’s. The Mrs. asked me to jump over to the store to buy a side of beef so that she could roast it for a light snack for Pugsley. I said, “No, sorry, been drinking.”

It may not be real beer, but, dangit, I’m not going to go down without a fight. Me or my ermpeet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Used Cars - Original Publish Date 5/30/05

I've been on a quest, of sorts. It's finally warm up here in Alaska, and lovely out. That can't last long - winter will be back. So, the semi-eternal gathering of firewood has to start soon. Which is okay, since Alaska is lousy with wood. I know that there's a certain contingent in the world that says cutting wood is an evil way to heat my house. That would leave oil heating, which that same group would say is worse. So, instead of bowing to their peer pressure and freezing to death, I'll go with wood.

I've only one problem. I've got no way to haul the stuff. So, unless I cut my driveway down (pictured above) I've got to go somewhere else to get wood.

I've been looking for a used pickup.

A used car makes sense to me for a couple of reasons, the most important being that it doesn't drop in value immediately after purchase like a new one does. Forget buying from a used car lot - I don't like the games - so I've been out looking for a used truck.

Used vehicles in Alaska are peculiar for several reasons:
  • all of them have dangly bits - cords to plug in with during -50F weather to keep the engine warm
  • most of them have cracked windows - thermal expansion presents from that same low temperature exposure
  • an eternal coating of mud - you're likely going off-road, perhaps daily
  • non-working bits, like my air conditioner
  • 2nd set of tires for winter driving
  • evidence of accident in back right corner from backing into whatever
  • tow hitch
  • remote start for sitting in your house and letting your car warm itself up
  • duct tape as a major structural member, somewhere
  • bumper stickers
    • Mining - The Family Farm of the North
    • Alaska Girls Kick Ass
    • Got Blackhawks?
    • Alaskan for Peace (the actual sticker said "Alaskans", buy I've only seen the one sticker
    • I don't dial 911, I dial .357
  • polywhatever tanks for hauling water
90% of the vehicles around are 4WD pickup trucks. When I talk with folks, it's implicitly assumed that I own one. 4WD vehicles are silly in Atlanta, mostly, and doubly silly in New York City or Beverly Hills. Here, you need a nightmarishly large 4WD vehicle just to:
  • carry your favorite guns around (you'd need a trailer for all of your guns)
  • get massive loads of stuff from Home Despot
  • carry water to your house
  • make sure you don't get stuck and freeze to death
Before I moved here, I drove smaller cars. My least fuel efficient car got like 25 miles per gallon (35,000 kilometers per liter). Here, I do have a big SUV, but, alas no pickup.

So, I'm looking for one. Probably not this one:

I'm not sure if that's the year or the price. It's about four miles from my house, but I'm not sure it would make it all that far.

Probably not this one, either:

Dang, I'd like this one, but the Mrs. would skin me if I brought it home. Plus I'm not sure that it would fit down the driveway.
Maybe I'll just get a trailer.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Have you ever considered piracy? You'd make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts."- Westley, The Princess Bride

I wish I could go to work dressed as a pirate, and then act like one all day. Yar, the mizzenmast is blarghy. Okay, at least pirates rarely run out of beer.

Weather’s been nice here, but we haven’t had a ton of adventures lately. I thought I’d just share a few nuggets of wisdom. I know, I know, it’s cheating. You want to hear how The Boy made our toilets explode, or The Mrs. rocks. Tonight, it’s just you and me. You poor person.

With the potential of things like running out of oil, nasty terrorists, third world anarcy, and the (admittedly farfetched) specter of bad things happening from Global Warming™, I’ve decided that I am going to limit my worries to:
  • things that may be living in my fridge without paying taxes,
  • relative lack of beer in my fridge,
  • the voices in my head, and
  • well, it’s silly, but I also worry about the solar neutrino emission rate.

Ribs, white bread, ice cold beer. Is that heaven, or what?

I’m thinking that Al Gore and Lennie DiCaprio probably flunked freshman calculus. Heck, the only part of college Lennie DiCaprio ever saw was a batch of willing co-eds. Why are they spokesman for a science thingy (Global Warming®)? It’s like Paris Hilton was suddenly tapped to be a spokestramp for celibacy. Or Britney Spears was tapped to be the spokestart for thermodynamics. Please, someone, come have a celebrity come to my house and explain why having 110 Volts of electricity coursing through my heart might be bad for me. Send Clint Eastwood, but only if he can still make his brow twitch like in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

For the first time ever, I looked at the candidates for President (both parties) and realized I could do a way better job than any of them. I would never be elected, though, because I tell people what I think. Mostly I think other people are smelly. I would tell Rudy Guilliani that. Hillary, too.

Speaking of smelly people, when did democracy become a good idea? That’s like 22 kindergarteners getting to overrule the 1 teacher. Does anyone think that Paris Hilton’s vote should count as much as theirs? Anyone that can read, I mean?

I favor hereditary kingship. At least kings have a vested interest in making the place a good one for their kids to rule. I’m available. My crown size is 7-5/8. Gold would be okay, but platinum would be way cooler. I would so have Dio do a coronation theme. He would have cool lyrics.

Did I mention my King of America© scepter would have a dagger through the Earth at the top, just like symbol of the evil goatee-people in the Star Trek(TOS)® series (episode: Mirror Mirror)? That would make world leaders take me seriously, since I think that was the reason really cool scepters were created. That and you could smack lackeys with the scepter. I need lackeys, but I don’t think they advertise that category on Monster.com.

Can we drive it home with one headlight?

Would Jesus have a beer with me? I think so. He hung around with other reprobates. I know He could walk on water, but could He walk after a lot of beer? I think so. Heck, He’s Jesus. (I don’t know if you can see it, but I ♥ the Big Guy.) Regardless, He still shouldn’t drive after a bunch of beers, but, heck, He could.

I really don’t deserve as good a life as I’ve had. As I think about it, neither do you. You know what you did.

If aliens landed and said, “Take me to you leader,” I think I’d have to take them to The Mrs. The Mrs. might hit me for saying that. But The Mrs. would be right in doing so. Thankfully she doesn’t have a scepter.

Beer after chainsaw. Never before, unless you have seriously good insurance. I have a funny scar on my right hand . . . thankfully I’m not know as lefty.

Okay, in April I started missing the NFL™®© more than hunting, chainsaws, and (yes!) beer. 4th and 1 . . . goal to go. You don’t have to win the Superbowl®, you just need to win now. Need I say more?

Is it only me or does Tom Petty get better as you get older? I like that he plays a goofball on King of the Hill®. Okay, after a lot of years, I finally like Tom Petty. Except for American Girl. Don’t argue, there ain’t no easy way out, I Won’t Back Down.

If the roof was on fire, would we need water, or would we let it burn?

Wolf Creek Pass. If you haven’t been there, you don’t understand. 22,000 telephone poles an hour. Whoa, dude.

Alrighty, I’ve tortured you enough. Where's the treasure, matey?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mystery, Alaska

Original Post Date: 6/4/05 (Essentially unedited)

By Mystery, Alaska I don't mean the dark line on the picture above (I believe that's the shadow of the Earth). I was flying north into the sunrise from Outside, and was looking out the window and snapped this one. It's worth a click to see this one full size. Go on, do it, and thank me later. I'll wait.

You're welcome. I thought it was cool, too.

No, I'm talking about good, old-fashioned tinfoil hat loving mysteries, nothing like the mystery of what the previous owner kept in the slightly sloshy 55 gallon drum by the garage that I'm afraid to open, or was it a lynx or a common kitty that The Mrs. saw the other day?

I'm talking about the best kind of mystery - the conspiracy. The very best conspiracy/mystery theories have several things in common:
  • they're plausible, but not provable
  • they explain some facts
  • they lead one down a logic leap.
We will henceforward refer to these as John's Rules of Conspiracy Goodness, primarily because I am John. Are you John? No. There is only one John. I may develop a numerical rating system at some point (it would involve pi and square roots of stuff), but until then, we must make do with the rules.

Conspiracy theories are fun, like watching professional wrestling. You know they're bogus, but, gosh, it's a good show.

Alaska abounds in some good conspiracy theories, most of them involving the government in some way or other. The worst (and silliest) is that Fairbanks is set up to be a concentration camp for 2,000,000 people. I found this one while I was doing a search for FEMA flood maps to see what flood insurance might cost.

Lets look at it (pretend you're in Nebraska) from John's Rules of Conspiracy Goodness:
Plausibility: If you have never been to Fairbanks, it might be plausible. Somebody might have built a huge camp in Fairbanks.
Facts: Ummm, it takes care of all that great concentration camp demand.
Logic: If we had concentration camps, Fairbanks would be a good place for one.

If you've been to Fairbanks, while we have plenty of open land, we do not have a concentration camp here, nor facilities for one. May be plausible if you live in Nebraska (ain't none here), but if you actually live in Fairbanks, not at all plausible. 2,000,000 people - just think of the amount of hair gel those folks might use.

Another great conspiracy ties to government research projects up here. HAARP (official site) and HIPAS (official site, previous post) are the dynamic duo of conspiracy folks.

Some folks
claim that HAARP and HIPAS can:
  • produce the effects of a nuclear blast anywhere on the planet
  • start earthquakes and volcanoes
  • control the weather
  • manipulate human behavior
  • cause global warming
  • make your coffee cool slightly faster
  • allow men to understand women
Wow! That's a good investment!

This is good conspiracy! Why? Let's go back to the rules:

Plausibility: The facilities are there, and most people don't understand physics, so anything you could say about the place might be true.

Facts: It would explain
  • the popularity of Russell Crowe movies,
  • why I don't make more money,
  • what is Soylent Green,
  • and answer the question of just who did let the dogs out. (it was HAARP!)
Logic: At the top of the world, you get to see the aurora much more often that you do in say, El Paso. If you were going to study the ionosphere, Alaska is the place to do it. So, let's build a secret government mind-weather control device up here instead. And give it a web page. And put up a web cam. 'Cause it's secret, see, and you want to hide it.

Some folks say that people who believe this sort of thing are paranoid. To paraphrase the great writer Rufus T. Somebodywhoiforgotandamtoolazytochecksourceson, paranoids must be so happy - they at least believe that someone is listening to them.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"We gotta warn Pop!"- Dean Venture, The Venture Brothers

11th Inning. Free baseball. Dang, that's way more innings than I wanted to deal with.

Tierre tagged me with, "Seven Things About You."

Okay. Seven things about me . . .

1. I won't be satisfied until I get the Nobel.
2. I'm fond of The Mrs.
3. I'm also fond of beer.
4. I like the The Boy and Pugsley, too.
5. I'm out of beer.
6. Dang. Still out of beer.
7. Yup. Out of beer.

Pop Wilder spent the last week in Houston. He’d been to Houston before, but, heck, I think Carter or Kennedy or Truman was President then. I picked him up at the airport, where he’d piloted his custom-built stealth jet in. Actually, United Airlines® brought him in. His Stealth Bomber® was in the hanger having new missiles attached.

The Boy and I went to IAH to pick him up. He was there at the counter of the information booth yelling at a tiny woman encouraging her to call me. As if I could forget to pick up Pop Wilder. I arrived at the counter. I tried to take his address book from the tiny woman, but she held firm, until Pop Wilder recognized me and said, “Hi.”

The Boy and Pugsley and I had gone to meet him. The Mrs. was still suffering from a horrible case of ebola® and I was forced to volunteered to take The Boy and Pugsley with me to pick up Pop.

Getting into the airport at Houston on Sunday morning is easy. Very few people in Houston are awake (at least outside of football season) and those that are awake are at church, and not at the airport. Me? On a normal Sunday morning I’d have been asleep, dreaming about the riches that I would make from the new device I invented that eats plastic and shoots beer out the other side. Mmmmm. Beer from plastic.

Anyhow, The Boy pushed Pugsley in his stroller and I carried Pop Wilder’s bags to my car. I was impressed when The Boy opened the door for Pop Wilder, less so when he popped into Pop’s seat. Eventually we got the whole primate pecking order settled out and went home.

Pop Wilder lost his hearing due to his multi-year overseas vacation (courtesy of the US Government) before the Army discovered that earplugs were good while practicing to shoot Commies© and Nazis™. If a 200’ asteroid landed at 351 miles per second next to his house, he would say, “hmmm, wonder what that was.”

Pop can’t hear a lick.

When we got home to Casa Wilder, The Mrs. said, “Good to see you had a safe trip,” to which Pop Wilder responded:

“There’s no better complement a man my age could get.”

Ummm, still wondering what Pop thought The Mrs. said.

During the week, Barry Bonds® and the San Francisco Giants™ showed up in town to play the Houston Astros™. We scored some tickets in the section of the stands next to the drunken Texans who kept shouting “Barry Bonds put your dress back on,” whenever Barry came to the plate.

I never knew that Barry was transgendered, and thanked the fan for the info. I wonder if Barry® favors floral prints?

At the end of the 11th inning, Pop Wilder announced that his bionic limbs needed a stretch, and he was ready to go home. On the way out, I told Pop that I would buy him a ballcap if he wanted. He picked one out. “Can you make the brim flat?” Finally I get to take Pop to a ballgame and buy him a hat.

The Boy's synopsis of the game.

I told Pop yes, that I could, which would make him and his flat-brimmed baseball cap the height of hip-hop fashion. Wonder what they’ll think when they see Pop Wilder in the hood with his fly hat?

So, today, I put Pop on a plane. The folks at airport security admired his bionic legs with a metal detector. Pop amazed them by being able to run at 50mph and with his fly flat-brimmed hat. He was better, stronger, faster than he was before. But, that’s Pop.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"If you explode it in Ft Knox, the entire gold supply of the US would be radioactive for 57 years." - James Bond, Goldfinger (1965)

Lego appears to have introduced a tech-support Lego guy. Or a George Lucas Lego.

First, an apology. I promised to recycle regift the posts that I had (after editing, sometimes major editing) previously posted. Like an Admiral in the Imperial Fleet, I have disappointed you. Hopefully not for the last time. Er, hopefully for the last time, but not because you’re using Jedi mind force to choke me. Pop Wilder is in town, and because I have to keep going on tequila runs for him, well, I’ve been busy. I promise I’ll be better next week. Onward . . .

I think The Mrs. was bitten by a radioactive spider when she was preggers with Pugsley. There is no other explanation, least not one I can think of.

It started last week . . .

The Mrs. was out doing, well, whatever it is The Mrs. does when she’s not cracking the whip on The Boy, Pugsley and I. Exactly what The Mrs. does when she’s not keeping us from killing ourselves is a mystery to all of us.

Our (The Boy and I) only guesses so far:
  • conducting secret government agent business,
  • engaging in girl lumberjack competitions,
  • shopping for Pez™, or
  • getting away from the three numbskulls that make her life a smelly ball of mud and noise.
As to the noise part, I heard a noise coming from The Boy’s bedroom. I looked around. The Boy was busy drawing up plans to knock out a kitchen wall and replace our existing fridge with something that looked like a side-by-side stainless steel coffin. No. Not him. Must be Pugsley.

I (reluctantly) got up and went into the other room. Pugsley, all two years and a week of him, was smiling and laughing, standing on The Boy’s chest o’ drawers, jumping up and down, and dancing. The surface of the dresser is some three feet off the ground.

What had lured Pugsley up there was the light switch. When he finally figured out that light switches weren’t intended to be decorative, rather, they were intended to actually do something, Pugsley became obsessed with trying to put his grubby little sweaty fingers on each and every one in the house.

Then, today, we found him on the middle of the kitchen table, sitting and playing with a toy.

The last straw was a trip up a set of stairs that a baby could easily fall down from. We caught up with Pugsley when he was about 8’ off the ground. The Boy decided to create a sign warning Pugsley that he shouldn’t climb stairs.

How Pugsley got up on The Boy’s dresser is still a mystery to us. That’s why I think that a radioactive spider is to blame. No human child could have climbed up the dresser like that. Also, The Mrs. seems to have the ability to shoot webs out of her hands. All six of them.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

"You know there isn't a hospital bar, Mother." - Michael Bluth, Arrested Development

Astute readers will notice that these are pictures of last year's Mother's' Day flowers. Looks like I'm not even trying to make her happy, doesn't it?

So it was Mother’s Day today.

After The Mrs. woke up on two hours sleep, she then repaired a 10x10 section of roof, flossed the dogs, sandblasted the inside of the fireplace, fed The Boy and Pugsley, and then had the guts to ask me to cook dinner because she was “tired.”

The nerve.

In actuality, The Mrs. has been running a fairly continual fever the past few days. I think it might be ebola. I’m not looking forward to the whole bleeding out the eyes things. That’s just creepy.

Okay, in real actuality, she’s probably not got ebola. The Mrs. has been running a 101°F fever (that’s -12°C) and has swollen glands where her gills are. Actually, where her gills would be, if she were a fish. Heck, maybe she’s doing some sort of quasi-devolutionary thing, and turning back into a fish. Or an amphibian.

Maybe her skin will turn green. That would be too cool.

Anyhow, sick with chills and a fever, The Mrs. has actually been pretty worthless this weekend. The exception was this morning, when, in a burst of energy, she cleaned up Casa Wilder in preparation for a visit from Pop Wilder.

Given that it was Mother’s (or is it Mothers’? I think I’ll use Mother’s’ just to be safe.) Day, Pugsley, The Boy and I got The Mrs. the usual stuff, as well as a Led Zeppelin t-shirt. Really – what’s Mother’s’ Day without a black rock and roll shirt with the interior cover art from Led Zep IV on it?

Oh, sure, I picked that out, but what irritates me is The Boy. He stole the show today.

Last week he did a Mother’s’ Day card at school. Then The Boy, Pugsley and I went to Target. I set him with the charge to find a Mother’s’ Day card for The Mrs. In true man-fashion, he walked over and picked the first card.

“Did you even look at it? Do you have any idea what sentiment it conveys? Do you even care?”


“Good boy.”

I asked him to pick out a card that Pugsley could give to The Mrs. The Boy went over and picked out another copy of the same card that we had in the cart.

“Ummm, that’s too lax even with my low standards. Get another one that isn’t exactly the same as the one you picked.”

So, now we’re up to two cards: one from the school, and one from the store. The Boy gets up early this morning and makes a third.

So, three cards.

Hmmm. This doesn’t make the t-shirt I bought The Mrs. stand out. Well, not stand out in the good way.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

"Couldn't get ahold of no flour, so it's mostly protein. In fact, the cake is pretty much what we just had for dinner." - Kaylee, Firefly

Pugsley, riding the Winnie the Pooh Wheeled Toy Ride Upon Thingy That Looks Sort Of Like An Airplane®. Party on, little dude.

Well, The Boy made it to six, and Pugsley made it to two, too. His birthday party was a lot of fun for the family. The Boy was panting with anticipation, and it's not his birthday, and he's not a dog. The nice thing about throwing a birthday for a two year old is that they never see it coming. Pugsley’s last birthday party was half his life ago: he remembers his first birthday like I remember which pair of pants have a hole in the seat before I wear them to work (the gray ones, but I never remember until I get the first gallon of coffee into me, then I sit with my legs crossed all day).

We started the party with the cake. It was a Cars™ cake, complete with a little Lightning McQueen© on it. Usually, the most dangerous place in the world is between Donald Trump and a camera – he will smash his way through bone and flesh to get in frame. The second most dangerous place in the world is between Pugsley and food.

We put a Texas-sized piece of Cars™ cake in front of him, careful to quickly draw back our fingers lest they get caught up in the frenzy and get shoved into his voracious maw. Despite his usually ferocious appetite, Pugsley was done with his cake after three or four bites. I took one for the team and finished the cake for him. I’m generous that way. I’m a giver.

Then, time for the presents.

Pugsley likes the Winnie the Pooh Wheeled Toy Ride Upon Thingy That Looks Sort Of Like An Airplane® the best – it was also the last toy we gave him. When he saw it coming down the hall, he threw his other toys away, literally flinging them blindly over his shoulder, and fixated upon the Winnie the Pooh Wheeled Toy Ride Upon Thingy That Looks Sort Of Like An Airplane®. I’m sure it was just like when Brad met Angelina, after conveniently flinging the whole “married to Jennifer” thing over his metaphorical shoulder. Ohhhh, look. Pretty new toy.

The best part, however, is that to Pugsley, the whole getting cake and cool presents thing was an utterly random and unpredictable event. It’s the way parents have messed with kids’ minds since we stopped tossing them in coal mines at age four to sniff the mine to make sure it was okay for the miners to enter when the manager wanted to save costs on canaries. Somewhere kids went from easily replaceable cheap labor to treasured little gems. Personally, I blame Garfield (the president, not the cartoon cat) for this. I won’t explain. Garfield knows what he did.

I’m pretty sure Pugsley remembers the birthday party now – every morning the first thing he does is tromp his sturdy little legs on the floor and immediately amble in his huffing-little-runny-nosed-boy-foot-slapping-way to the Winnie the Pooh Wheeled Toy Ride Upon Thingy That Looks Sort Of Like An Airplane® which he loves almost as much as famous celebrities love riding around in private jets to tell a crowd of people to change their behavior because they’re causing global warming. Almost that much.

Maybe these early birthday parties are why people have a hard time coming to grips with the bitter reality that they aren’t ever ever ever ever going to win the lottery. It’s not that the lottery is a only a tax on the mathematically impaired, it’s also that everybody remembers their second birthday party and are pretty much expecting that they’ll get the same thing to ease them off into retirement. Deep in the dark recesses of their minds, where the old episodes of “Green Acres” fight for space with the lyrics to “Yellow Submarine,” people remember that birthday when they were a snotty mouth breather and got the Winnie the Pooh Wheeled Toy Ride Upon Thingy That Looks Sort Of Like An Airplane®, and the mind says, hey, tomorrow you might wake up and find:
  • your mortgage is paid off,
  • your shins are shined to a silky sheen,
  • your pantry is piled with Pez,
  • your fridge is filled with frosty-cold beer,
  • your hiney is tiny, and
  • Adam Sandler has vowed to never make another movie.
It would be great, right? Just like your . . . second birthday party.

Maybe we need to revisit that whole coal mine thing . . . you know, just to lower everyone's expectations. Mmmm. Pez.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

"What phony dog poo?" - Omar Sharif, Top Secret

Original Post Date- 1/30/05

This was my second post. I was happy with it (it was a great work of Western Literature in my unbiased mind) until I re-read it. Major editing, and I'm still not exactly happy. There's a good joke about a tie being better than a loss, but I can't quite get there. I think I'll just call this one a sister-kissing tie.

College hockey - religion of the future?

The (pregnant) Mrs., The Boy and I went to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF) hockey game last night. Hockey in Alaska is an experience not to be missed. As soon as little kids in Fairbanks can crawl, parents put skates on their feet, a stick in their hand, and teach them how to check an opponent into the boards and then throw down their gloves and pacifiers and hockey-fight. This explains why all five-year-old children in Fairbanks have wonderful hockey scars and missing teeth. The Mrs. says that the missing teeth are all about “growing up” or some such nonsense. Silly The Mrs.

The mascot of the UAF team is the "Nanooks," or, when the fans are feeling romantic, the 'Nooks. Alaska fact: nanook means polar bear. The Nanooks were playing the Lake Superior State team, who have picked the highly inventive “Lakers” as a mascot. Although the Laker mascot was not in attendance, I’m assuming its costume is a bucket of tepid water.

There were approximately 3,700 fans there last night, which might sound small, but the population of Fairbanks is 32,000. And, it was nearly twenty below, Fahrenheit, not communist metric units. Inside, though, the action was as hot as the oven at George Foreman’s house on “Pie Night.”

The Boy was about as interested in the game as a four year old can be. The Boy watched a (little) bit, but was mostly concerned with attempting to kick the somewhat balding man sitting in front of him. So, in other words, he was a completely normal four-year-old. The Boy did, however point out that he thought that some of the one-timers that the Nanooks were attempting from near the blue line would have been better converted into scoring chances if they crashed the net. After that exchange I started kicking the balding man in front of me.

I was thinking that hockey was like church for some of these folks. But, then I came to the conclusion that many of the folks at the arena (most of them non-students, I'm assuming that all of the students were engaged in study of subjects like "numerical approximation methods for partial differential equation applications in really cold places" at the library at 8pm on a Saturday night, rather than yelling and doing party-stuff) hockey wasn't like a religion, it is a religion.

  • The folks that showed up paid to get in, kinda like a weekly hockey tithe.
  • They prayed during the game.
  • They looked for the hockey gods to help the puck find the net.
  • There was goodness (the Nanooks), evil (the Lakers), and demonic influences (the referees).
  • At the end of the game, some sort of theological balance was struck, resulting in the tie.
And, hockey fans are a bit more devout than some folks who go to church regularly. For instance:

  • You never hear a fan say "hockeydammit."
  • You never hear a fan say "Waaaaaaayne Gretzky" when he or she smacks a thumb with a hammer.
I'm not sure what the hockey sins are yet, but I imagine they're fairly easy to follow and mostly self explanatory, like, don't root for the Lakers and make sure that you flush.

As it is, I'm quite sure that the sins are easier to figure out than most hockey rules. There are lots of lines on the ice, but their function seems to be to be ignored in most cases. The goalie has a blue spot in front of the net (called a 'crease,' but I saw no trousers) that seemed to fill no purpose whatsoever. As for the Pizza Hut logo, I could not for the life of me figure out how that impacted gameplay whatsoever. But it did make me hungry.

Like other sports, the referees wear black and white. Which (going back to religion) makes them a perfect combination of good and evil. The Nanook fans felt that the demonic influence was greater this night. When the (chief, head, king?) referee was hit by a puck traveling near the speed of sound in his upper calf, the fans cheered. So, this night at least in the First Fairbanks Church of Hockey, he was an agent of that darkest pit of the abyss, the Lakers. (As an aside, when he sent Lakers to serve penance in the penalty box, he got a cheer, or at least an "about time" from the fans.)

Late in the third period, the score was tied, 1-1. I know that sounds like it might be as exciting as watching various sissy Europeans bounce a ball back and forth across a lawn, but in the case of hockey, when a score can happen at any time from a slapshot across the ice at 100 mph, that increases the tension. Of course the game ended in a tie, so that tension was only relieved when it froze off of my body and fell to the packed snow/ice parking lot on hitting the air.

End result, a good game, no frostbite, and I went home and cleaned up dog poo.

A tie is better than cleaning up dog poo.

Monday, May 07, 2007

"Can't sleep, clown will eat me. Can't sleep, clown will eat me." - Bart, The Simpsons

Wilder Note: I've got a crazy idea. I've been drinking working like a dog to write these posts. And, I've got 300 stashed away. I'm thinking that I could post every day and polish up some of the old crap gems and maybe even make them funnier when viewed in perspective. Think of it as sort of a Gilligan's Island of blogging. I know I don't go back into the archives much, so, I imagine you don't, either. If this stuff is new to you, well, it gives you five times as much Wilder By Far for your money.

This also lets me get my old posts slowly moved over to my computer in a manageable format for longer-term storage (I did my initial work on Blogger, not on Word, so I don't have a copy on my computer). /crazy idea.

NEW posts will still appear every Sunday night/Wednesday Night.

I'll give this a try, and if it works, keep going, unless I get lazy.

Note: This post dates back to 5/11/05, which is 11/5/05 for the Europeans, and 6/23/9345 for all of you Zoroaster worshipers. Also, note - WE DID NOT MOVE BACK - this is a repeat!


The dark in winter is easy to get along with in Fairbanks. Throw down another beer and put another log on the fire, cozy up with a good book. I'm used to nights. I am not yet used to looking out the window at midnight and seeing the sun not yet down. I am not yet used to waking up a 4am and seeing the start of a bright new day.

Since we just moved into the place, there's a lot to do. You see, the last owner of the house was Jabba the Hut. For example:
  • Somebody removed downstairs drywall - with a hammer. By smashing it.
  • The bathroom door handle was about to fall off, because Jabba had never bothered to tighten the screws.
  • All the trim was ripped off of downstairs.
  • Exterior insulation was ripped off, for no apparent reason.
  • The kitchen faucet leaked - incessantly.
  • None of the windows open well.
  • The slaves and droids are pesky and need constant feeding and maintenance.
  • There's a statue of some guy made of carbonite.
  • The lawn is the size of Rhode Island. I feel it looming as it starts to turn green. I would like to get goats or some grazing-type critter, so I could be lazy and not mow, but I think the bears would eat them.
I think you get my point, there's a lot of work to be done. I'm not complaining, the condition of this place allowed us to afford it. Plus, there's a monster in the basement that we can use for Jedi control. (They get thick up here in summer.)

This summer I've got to refinish the basement, figure out some sort of heat source for down there (unless we wanted to refilm Rocky and use it as a meat locker), redo the roof, and bring home 7-10 cords of wood. Oh, and I've got to build bookcases and unpack my books, games, and etc. Plus, there's a new baby.

Don't get me wrong - I like picking up the old power tools and cutting off various body appendages as I refinish drywall poorly. Keeps the hospital in business, and gives the next owner something to laugh about.

My problem is the Sun. Darn thing rises in the Northeast, sets in the Northwest. Soon it'll be doing a complete circle above us. I think the sun only actually sets for a few days in June. Up North, in Barrow, the sun's now up. Until August.

Since the sun is always up now, you get the darkness clue to get tired, so you keep working until all hours of the night until you realize - holy crap - it's 1AM and I should be asleep. Duplicate this day after day for a week, drinking copious amounts of coffee to jump start the brain. On the seventh day, sleep for 14 hours because you're exhausted. Repeat.

The Mrs. is exhausted, too. We brought The New Boy home. Slept through the night the first night.

I mean me, I slept through the night. All four hours of it.

The Mrs. was up like a million times with The New Boy, whose primary communication channel appears at this time to consist of random grunts and some sort of wailing noise. Not ready yet for a long discourse on Hooke, Newton, or the Enlightenment worldview. Not ready, even yet, for a substantiative discussion of the implied economic commentary of Joe's not apparently having a job on Blue's Clues and the Cold-War growth of social benefits in American society. Just wants to eat, sometimes.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

"Complicated case. I'm a night owl - Wilson's an early bird. We're different species."- House, House, M.D.

Thank heavens this wasn't the bird that was in my backyard building a nest. Had that been so, I would have sewed lead weights into my socks so I couldn't be taken off into the air with it. - Photo by The Mrs.

Wilder Note: I've got a crazy idea. I've been drinking working like a dog to write these posts. And, I've got 300 stashed away. I'm thinking that I could post every day and polish up some of the old crap gems and maybe even make them funnier when viewed in perspective. Think of it as sort of a Gilligan's Island of blogging. Also this lets me get them slowly moved over to my computer in a manageable format for longer-term storage (I did my initial work on Blogger, not on Word, so I don't have a copy on my computer). /crazy idea.

I was not prepared for the birds.

When The Mrs. and I took The Boy and Pugsley out for spring break (woo), The Mrs. came across the fairly utilitarian idea of ripping open a bag of dog food and leaving it out for our canine companions – perfect. They’d have food while we were gone for a week, and the electric fence would give them enough electricity to induce seizures if they dared set a paw outside of its unsleeping limits.

It was a good idea. It was a Wilder idea.

So, when we got back into town, The Mrs. continued the practice of feeding the dogs out of a ripped open bag of dog food. Easy, simple, and, well, the family’s economic situation isn’t tied to ensuring that the dogs get just enough food. Oh, sure, I could see myself counting out the bits of kibble to make sure no dog got too much food, but, hey, even I have limits. If I did that, there would be graphs of dog weight vs. food input, and perhaps even counts of how much fur each dog lost as a result of feeding them tiny rocks instead of food, or some of that new, “special” dog food that renders the dogs inert and room temperature. (note: no dogs were injured in the thinking about this column.)

Despite the whole “feeding the dogs once a week” lazy-goodness aspect of this, it did not come without a price.

A feathery price.

We’ve become the most desired place on our block for birds to come and eat. The birds are eating dog food.

I noticed this when no less than a dozen were camped out on our roof, attempting to sneak down to our porch and snatch the crunchy-liver-flavored goodness that our dogs were guarding as well as the French were guarding the boarder with the Netherlands in the 1930’s. The birds, even large, ungainly birds, would swoop down with impunity and snatch the kibble from our oblivious horde of dogs who seemed to be afflicted with narcolepsy. (An aside: all dogs are this tired – what exactly do they do that makes them want to sleep 21 hours a day? Also, what do I have to do to get on this bandwagon?)

The birds were eating dog food.

This frightens me.

Birds are already feathery. The thought of them flying around with big, shiney canine teeth and a propensity to chase balls scares me. Sure, it would be cute for a while, then a batch of my canine-birds would show up at Enron™ Minute-Maid© field and eat the Astros®. Then I’d be in the paper. No.

I decided to avoid all this and take the dog food and put it in a plastic box (full disclosure – The Mrs. did this). I think that will eliminate the whole bird problem – no food, no birds.

Except one.

A little tiny yellow bird built a nest upon a column in our porch, and The Mrs. pointed this out yesterday.

“Shoo, bird,” I said. My hand had to get very close to spook the bird out of the nest.

I checked and found out why – I’m much scarier than a tiny yellow bird. There was an egg in the nest.


The Mrs. said, “Well, you can’t kick her out now.”

She’s right. That wouldn’t be nice. Plus, the bird was panting and licking my hand.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

"Thank you for teaching us all that love is thicker than most bodily membranes. But not quite as sticky." - The Tick, The Tick

The Boy takes a snapshot of his favorite thing (besides food that comes in itsy-bitsy foil pouches) – home improvement projects.

I was in the kitchen when I saw The Mrs. pull up in the driveway, bringing The Boy home from soccer practice, Pugsley in tow.

She walked in. Took one look at me.

“What have you been doing?” Her voice was accusatory.

“Umm, nothing, really.”

“No. You’ve been, you’ve been . . . “

I waited for Joey Greco™, the host of Cheaters® to come popping out from around the corner.

“You’ve been fixing things again, haven’t you?” I wilted under her stare and nodded. “And, it’s probably something that you messed up fixing the first time, and are fixing it again?”

I nodded again, trapped like a congressman with $90,000 in marked bills in his freezer.

What gave it away? Was it my sweaty brow? Was it my sneaky look? Was it, well, the fact that I can’t lie to The Mrs.?

Umm, probably all of them. That and Joey Greco™ holding an empty Home Despot© bag and receipts for nails, screws, and various construction adhesives. I had hidden the evidence well, but that darn Joey Greco™, well, he’s just too good.

This is, really, is what irritates The Mrs. most. I’ve been working fairly long hours as of late, and The Mrs. likes, for whatever reason, to spend time with me. Oh, Internet, The Mrs. is not jealous of you, at least not since she’s found Myspace®. The Mrs. is jealous of the house.

Okay, The Mrs. isn’t jealous of the house. The Mrs. is as irritated as Thomas Jefferson was with John Adams claiming that Jefferson was a “liar, liar, pantaloons on fire,” to which Jefferson retorted by calling Adams a “triangle-hat-wearing cootie-carrier.” That’s how irritated The Mrs. is over the house.

When we moved in, each weekend brought a new batch of things that I needed to work on. The house is far from new, and, despite outward appearances, there’s more than I can do while The Mrs. catches a Saturday afternoon nap. This pulls me away from regular family adventures, which may take an afternoon.

To be fair, I did the same thing when we first moved to Fairbanks, though I spent that time in the basement drywalling and drinking singing hymns while The Mrs. was stuck inside upstairs in -30°F (-6,031°C) weather and six months (1000 centimonths) pregnant with the huge baby that is now famous as Pugsley. The Mrs. didn’t mind me being downstairs so much then. I think I irritated her as much as Isaac Newton irritated Britney Spears when . . . oh . . . never mind. We all know that old story.

So, I do have my trusty assistant in The Boy, who knows the names of the people on “This Old House” by heart, thinks that Bob Vila is his uncle, and knows where all of my tools are (by name) when I ask him. The Boy understands. The Boy’s got the knack, and, unfortunately he’ll soon be able to put out better quality work than I can. At least he’s light enough that he won’t knock the toilet paper dispenser through the drywall when he slips on water on the tile floor while hefting the toilet back into place and loses his footing. Not (as far as The Mrs. knows) that would ever happen to me. (Memo – need to patch drywall. Soon.)

So, Joey Greco™ caught me.

I cheated®.

Really, honey. The house means nothing to me. I only love you.

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