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

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"I need food to be strong, when the wolves come." - Conan, Conan the Barbarian

Looke upone the workse of ye mightye and dispaire. Er, that's Emperor Pugsley the Magnificent to y'all. Did I mean ya'lle?

At least I know what Pugsley will be when he grows up.

Pugsley’s going to be an Airborne Ranger. Or a Green Beret. Maybe just a prison escapee.

At the tender age of two-and-change, Pugsley’s developed a new habit. After taking his nightly bath to remove the grubby-boyness from his smelly self, he scurries his still damp hiney and runs to his room. Normal, right?

Then, Pugsley goes up to his crib, grabs hold, and hurls himself like a Soviet Chinese gymnast on steroids up and over the railing (which is in the up position) into the crib. Oh, sure, there’s some awful cute baby huffing and puffing, but he nevertheless lifts his forty-five pounds of sturdy self over the wall, then smiles and waits while his diaper is applied.

The Mrs. is fairly unflappable. The Mrs. thinks it’s fairly normal that when Pugsley was sitting next to a kid twice his age the other day at the park that Pugsley already has four inches in height and that his mighty-oak legs are bigger than the other kid’s chest.

Normal, sure.

My ancestors were Vikings, which means (if you’ve any European roots in you) that my ancestors took your ancestor’s stuff, because they were big, blonde, hairy, and were generally disagreeable, but they did have nifty iron hats. Unless, of course, that your ancestors were Vikings too. Which, thinking about it, is likely, so, welcome, cousin!

The Boy seems to be above average size for his age, but Pugsley is enormous. Not fat, mind you, but just seriously huge. Pugsley will gather enormous hordes of women hot for his form.

I combine this in my mind with The Boy’s humongous brain. Pugsley will be the conqueror, trampling the world ‘neath his sandaled feet (yes, stolen from “Conan the Barbarian”), yet The Boy will have more fun. He’ll be The Boy’s Karl Rove. Pugsley will have to make all the hard decisions, but The Boy will have to just poke fun at the media.

(Note and full disclosure: My Brother, ummm, call him John, has been called up to some political leadership thingamabob. I helped him develop a policy position. Let’s just say the communists Democrats didn’t ask him to come. Listen, would John Wilder as Chief of Staff be worse than ANYTHING WE’VE EVER HAD? Me, I vote a “Nay” on that.)

How much fun is that? It’s way better than being a Kennedy, yet with twice the calories. Except for Teddy, who’s had like, well, sixteen bazillion calories already. Would you let Teddy near a school? Aren’t you worried he’d eat the children?

Well, don’t worry about Pugsley. He likes steak.

Who doesn’t want a President who likes steak?

Lenin didn’t. Fidel doesn’t. Osama hates Americans who like steak. I think*.

(The *I think added because I’m not sure Osama can’t sue me.)
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

"So what Jefferson was saying was 'Hey! You know, we left this England place because it was bogus'."-Spicoli, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

The Boy's picture of our Bionic dog, Wonderdog. Guess which eye can, thanks to Japanese technology, peer deep into your soul and know of every evil thought you've ever had? Lucky for me it's the one he can't see out of.

In Alaska, the slow days are in January, February. It’s so cold outside that rubber isn’t rubbery, plastic is brittle, and diesel fuel freezes. In Houston, the slow time is August. I sat on the couch this afternoon morning after getting up from a massive hibernation brisk evening’s sleep and suggested that it would be a good time to mow the Survivor©-class jungle that had supplanted our lawn in the space of two weeks. The Mrs. looked up at the clock.

“Now? In the hottest part of the day? Are you crazy?”

Well, in a purely technical sense I’m not crazy. A bit daft, perhaps, but not really, really crazy. I will admit, though, that anytime when the Sun is shining it’s smiling yellow rays on the Earth in August is a hideous time to do anything outside.

The Boy was perfectly content to sit inside on a comfy, poofy chair and watch Ghost Hunters™, and The Mrs. could use a nap. I decided that I would brave the crazy electromagnetic spectrum output that is August in Houston and do some mowing.

Given that all we’ve done in the past few weeks was to evade a flash flood and a tornado by a half an hour, allowing us to drive through weather that would have made George Clooney a sobbing puddle of a man, well, it’s been boring here.

I thought I’d allow myself to get a bit political. I generally avoid the political side of things, but, hey, I thought I’d share a thought or two. Give me a break, it’s summer, and the politicians haven’t thought since, well . . . don’t make me go there.

The Mrs. always gives me a great deal of abuse when I mention that the American Republic is showing some signs of weakness. It’s been a constant source of irritation for her in the sense that she is cognizant that every generation of Americans has been sure that the next generation has stopped evolving and has entered the deep, dark spiral into devolution, starting with say, George Washington and ending up with a President of the United States named Magnum Turbo Steelcheeks, who is a professional wrestler.

This time we live in, though, is different (every generation has said that, too). I was reading P.J. O’Rourke’s excellent dissection of Adam Smith’s moldy old economic treatise The Wealth of Nations recently. P.J. noted that the only respectable ways to become a public figure back then was through:

the works of your mind (like moldy old economist Adam or weird old Isaac Newton devising calculus just to mess with college freshmen),

the actions of a statesman (a George Washington serving his second term, retiring, and saying “the heck with all of you – you figure it out”),

or heroism in defense of your nation (Admiral Nelson putting the beat down on the French at Trafalgar comes to mind).

Anything else was, well, vulgar and generally looked down upon, actors and musicians alike. We don’t hear much about the woodcarvings of Admiral Nelson’s tarty daughter showing off her, ahem, pastries to the boys on the ship. Likewise, I can’t imagine our early Congress calling forth testimony of John Wilkes Booth’s actor grandpappy on whether or not we should go to war against the Barbary Pirates¹, all while saying “No blood for commerce,” which is way snappier and way more hip than Thomas Jefferson’s Neoconservatively Hawkish “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.” So, Sean Penn’s great, great great grandfather probably thought we had set ourselves off into a Mediterranean quagmire.

I’m glad that Jefferson ignored old Ezekiel Penn and Homer Sarandon and sent the (ahem) U.S.S. Enterprise² into action fighting for principle over appeasement, otherwise, well, Star Trek just wouldn’t have been Star Trek.

Along the way, a gentleman by the name of Lt. Stephen Decatur did a lot of seriously heroic crap while the Marines he was fighting with all had to wear leather collars to prevent the friendly pirates from beheading them as they boarded their vessels. Decatur did so much really neat stuff (Admiral Nelson, no wuss himself³ when it came to bravery), called Decatur’s actions in leading a night raid into Tripoli to destroy a US ship rather than let the pirates have it, “the most bold and daring act of the age.”

Here’s the rub. Congress really, really liked this Decatur guy. He was a hero. Somebody put up a proposition that Congress vote some spare change and buy this guy a sword. Congress came to the decision . . . wait for it . . . that they didn’t have the authority to spend money for the sword under the Constitution. They liked him so much that they strong armed a bunch of lobbyists into buying it for Decatur. Just kidding. The Congresscritters coughed up a collection plate and everybody chipped in and bought Decatur a super-cool ninja laser sword. Themselves. Their money.

Jefferson perhaps said it best in a quote I shall take entirely out of context (he was actually doing shots with Franklin⁴ while they played Scrabble™), "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare but only those specifically enumerated." Decatur’s sword simply didn’t cut it. Pardon the pun.

Now, somehow, we as a nation are supposed to take a coalition of (excuse me) actors seriously on matters of national security? Please, send me Martin Sheen. He played the President on TV, right? I’m sure he’s got a college educ . . . . oh, nevermind. If you think that Sheen is more qualified to talk on politics than the average guy, well, I’m going to let that guy who plays House, M.D. remove your appendix. Heck, under socialized medicine, he might have to. And having Sheryl Crow croon about Global Warming™? Outstanding. I think her degree in music education (or somethinglikethat) uniquely qualifies her to propound on science to politicians.

Hey, I wonder how long old Abe Lincoln would have lasted in a debate with Hillary (The Evil Democratic Eye of Sauron©) or Rudy (Skeletor®)? Not long. Too tall. Ugly. Bad hat. Batsnot crazy wife. Speeches too long. (“Say, Abe, can you put those whole Lincoln-Douglas debates into a ten second soundbite?”)

I, for one, welcome the Presidency of Magnum Turbo Steelcheeks. Maybe we can replace the debates with steel cage matches.

That would be neat.

¹These particular pirates were not the Pirates of the Caribbean© funny-drunk pirates, but full blown actual bloodthirsty pirates. Johnny Depp would have lasted about a tenth of a second with them, unless he could play the ukulele. It is a well known fact that Barbary Pirates loved ukulele music.
²The U.S.S. Enterprise taking on pirates. How cool is that?
³Nelson lost almost his entire right arm in battle and was quoted as (really) saying "I am Lord Nelson and this is my fin." Nelson lost his arm and made this quote before he praised Decatur. Was Nelson tough? Nelson was so tough he’d chew up Chuck Norris and spit out itty-bitty pieces. Before breakfast. I say that as a very, very, (please don’t hurt me) respectful Chuck Norris fan. I heard Chuck Norris has tears that cure cancer, which is sad because Chuck never cries.
⁴Jefferson and Franklin actually hated each other, which was the result of a blood vendetta of sworn vengeance set in motion when Franklin and a group of Union soldiers stormed Monticello and burned it to the ground, killing everyone Jefferson loved. Oh, sorry, that’s the plot to The Outlaw Josey Wales. I think Franklin and Jefferson just irritated each other a whole bunch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"We've got to take that one in ten thousand chance." - Kirk, about to win again, Star Trek

The Boy’s picture of the gigantic planet-devouring machine that ate Ceti Alpha 5. Or was that Ceti Alpha 6? Or is it a ceiling fan?

One of the biggest joys a parent gets is watching children change as they grow, learn, and then make scads of money that you can easily extort them out of, since as a parent you know all of their most embarrassing secrets. As to the change part, The Boy is changing (not diapers, yet, because he couldn’t lift even one of Pugsley’s freakishly large fifty-pound baby legs, even if it meant a year’s supply of Pez©) as he matures.

In one change, The Boy has recently taken an interest in watching things on TV that aren’t documentary or ghost-reality television. The Mrs. informs me that of late The Boy is watching Star Trek™ (The Original Series) on television, and is loving it.

What’s not to love? Cheesy (by 2007 standards) special effects, William Shatner’s fine dramatic performances, and a guy with pointy ears. Great stuff. I remember torturing Grandma and Grandpa McWilder (Mom’s side of the family tree) with one of those old-timey drills that you crank a handle on to move the gears to drill (1930’s tech for “cordless”) until they let me stay up late on Saturday night (10:30 on Channel 4) to watch Star Trek© episodes. I was six. Creepy Creature Feature was the follow on to Star Trek®, so I was then assaulted by horror films until I picked my tiny carcass off of the couch and wandered to bed at 12:30 or so (“The End of Our Programming Day”).

Grandparents rock.

I kept watching Star Trek© until . . . well, heck, I still watch Star Trek™ when I can. When I met The Mrs. I rummaged through her closet without permission noticed that she had a Star Trek© uniform. I was instantly smitten. Not that I’ve ever seen her wear it, but on occasion The Mrs. will dress up like a green slave girl for me, though she refuses to call me “Captain” around the house.

As I reflect, Star Trek® taught me some of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. James Tiberius Kirk was a role model. Star Trek™ taught me:

It’s okay to violate the Prime Directive, if you’re right. (Kirk always was)

If the Captain has “relations” with a woman and you wear a red shirt, statistically it’s very likely that you will die if you go on a landing party. Consider plaid.

Sometimes you lose. Then you cheat, if you’re right. (Kirk always was)

People from all cultures can get along, if one of them isn’t Klingon© or Romulan®.

Doctors can’t fix anything. Scotty can fix anything, and generally ahead of schedule.

Exponential growth can get you in trouble quickly. Tribbles© and Scotty’s waist prove this.

“Neutral Zone” means “shields up, arm phasers” before you enter.
Romulan™ nerve gas makes a wicked drink. Or was that Romulan© ale? I forget.

A man with a cannon loaded with diamonds always beats a nine-foot-tall lizard.

Stuff always breaks when you need it most.

Surrender is for losers (I’m talking to you, Jean-Luc). Blow the friggin’ ship if it gets to that point.

It may look like you’re doomed, but if you do something batsnot crazy, you just might have a chance.

Sally Kellerman stayed hot for about thirty years, but you always have to let Joan Collins die.

The evil version of me has a goatee, and a much cooler job.

Space hippies are still hippies. And probably smell as bad as the usual hippies.

Logic will break a computer, because Microsoft© is still the dominant operating system of the future.

Captain Kirk did sleep with that woman those women, and he won’t lie about it. Or brag about it.

Serving a greater purpose is good. It’s even better if you have a starship that can turn a planet to cinders.

There is Good and Bad. Be Good and you generally win. Generally.

The Boy will eventually pull his own lessons from Star Trek©, and, frankly, given the moral relativism of a lot of entertainment today I think the original Star Trek® has some great lessons for kids. Plus it’s as nerdy as hell.

I am John Wilder. I am a nerd.

So is The Boy.

Our nerdishness. Watch us revel in it. Revel.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Not gone . . . .

Just got back from a quick family trip. More Tuesday morning . . .

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Faced with a universe in chaos, Dylan Hunt recruits an unlikely crew and sets out to reunite the galaxies." - Opening Narration, Andromeda

Im in ur camera, takin mah pictur -Pugsley

Today I steal borrow from The Mrs. blog. I do that not because I'm lazy, but because it cracked me up. And, because I'm lazy. Here are her unedited comments about today. You can read more if you click on the linky to the left.


The boys and I are stuck at home today because we are waiting on a very important delivery. Approximate delivery time: sometime between 8am and 5pm. We aren’t going anywhere. Nor can we play in the backyard because we would not be able to hear the doorbell. Plus, it’s really freaking hot. So we are resigned to being indoors.

It starts when the doorbell rings.

I answer it and find a salesperson. Not just any salesperson, either. It’s one of those people who is selling magazines supposedly to earn points to win some damn thing or another. The problem is, their patter is rapid-fire and non-stop, giving me no opportune moment to slam the door in their face.

As I stand waiting politely to turn them down, my oldest son comes running to the door.

“Mooooooooommmmmmm!!!!! The baby poured water all over your computer!!!!”

I tell the still-yakking salesperson to hang on an slam the door on them. On to my computer. The baby has, in fact, poured water all over it. I shake my finger at him and scold: “Bad, Baby! No!” His lower lip trembles. His brow furrows. Tears brew at the corners of his eyes and then …

“Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” He collapses on the floor in a heap.

My oldest son, who has keen powers of observation and a stunning grasp of the obvious, shouts at me: “Mom! The baby’s crying!”

“I can hear that!” I shout back. “Go get the paper towels! They’re on the counter!”

He darts off while I try to stop the flow of water that is running off the desk and onto the floor. He returns. No paper towels.

“I can’t find them!”

I head to the kitchen and grab the paper towels. They are sitting alone on the empty counter top. My son meets me in the halfway.

“Mooooooooommmmm!! The baby has gum!!!!”

I hand him the paper towels and tell him to get mopping. I chase the baby down the other hallway, into his room and corner him behind his dresser. Then I fish a wad of gum and paper (soaked in baby spit) out of his mouth. Once again, he collapses in a heap and wails. I leave him to his woe and go check on the progress of the clean-up. My oldest son in trying to mop up the water with half a paper towel and is really only succeeding in moving the water from the desk to the floor.

“Honey, you can use more than one,” I say and rip off a hunk of towels.

“Oh,” he says. Then he starts unrolling. The doorbell rings. I had forgotten about the salesperson.

Somehow, the dog has mysteriously entered the house from the backyard and charges for the front door, barking furiously. The doorbell is his invisible nemesis. The baby also hears the doorbell and (still crying) comes running as well. I open the door while trying to keep either of them from squirting past me and into the front yard. I slip out the front door, making sure I hang onto the handle. The baby (still crying) is pulling on it from the inside.

“Go ahead,” I tell the salesperson. He opens his mouth to begin his patter when I hear the telltale sound of the deadbolt. The baby has locked the door. Inside, I can hear the phone ringing. I ring the doorbell to get my oldest’s attention and the dog barks furiously. My oldest comes to the door, phone to his ear. He presses his face against the glass.

“Who is it?”

“You look busy,” says the salesperson, backing away from the house. “I’ll come back later.”

“You know who it is. Open the door. NOW!”

He lets me in just in time for me to see the baby, laughing and covered in flour, racing across the living room. As I turn to chase him, my son holds up the phone.

“It’s Dad,” he says. I take the phone.

“Hi, honey. How’s your day?”
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

"We're all aware of the need for salt on a hot and arid planet like this, professor. But it's a mystery." - The One True Shatner, Star Trek

Houston in summer, which looks a lot like Houston in winter, except winter has 40% less agony.

I grew up in a touristy, mountainish place. As such, during the hottest day in the summer you’d typically see that it only got up into the mid-eighties (with, oh, 6% humidity), and local people whined as if they had been immersed into the vat of oil that our community kept around for boiling heretics (you know, reading Harry Potter books, holding hands without being married, being “not from around here,” that sort of stuff).

During August, the license plates from Texas would outnumber the local plates by about 123:1. The Texans also drove (generally) brand new and far nicer vehicles than anyone from our community. We shook our heads, wondering why they came (uninvited) to visit every year. They kept talking about how nice my hometown was. Then they left, which we liked, in much the way that the last Texas plate leaving the state seemed to mean that the last mosquito had died.

Now that I live in Texas, I can tell you why Texans visit my old home town. People leave Texas (at least Houston) in August because it’s very, veryveryveryveryvery hot here in August.

When The Boy and I were travelling back from the matinee showing of Transformers, well, let’s just say that when he grows up, the Ford Motor Company© will have to hire him because the seat belt-induced brand indicates that The Boy is their property. I think he screamed when the bare parts of his legs touched the seat. It was that hot in the car. When I brought him through the front door The Mrs. thought he looked a little melty.

Earlier, it had been cool in the theater as a gaggle of seven to nine-year-old boys sat with a parent or two watching a Chevy™ Camaro® turn into a giant yellow robot. As the action sequences ended (about a half an hour into the movie) you could see large numbers of boys, filled with the discomfort of retaining 75 ounces of fluid while hoping that Optimus Prime® would stop fighting Megatron™ long enough so that they could sprint to the bathroom and back (hopefully while all that stupid talking and kissing was going on) in time to view an F-22 Raptor© turn into a robot and bomb someplace in Nevada. Fortunately it was Nevada, which has good experience with bombs, though less experience with autonomous rampaging robots.

The movie? Good mindless summer fun. Ticket prices were more expensive than my mortgage payment. I had to pledge my kidney and retinas as collateral to afford the popcorn and Raisinettes®, but it was a good time. The Boy’s eyes lit up at all the right places, and he looked as happy as I’ve ever seen him. The Transformers are probably the greatest toyentertainment idea ever for boys – cars (which both The Boy and Pugsley love even more than sugary treats or torturing the dog with a blowtorch and tongs) that turn into gigantic fighting robots.

The Mrs.? She sat at home in a relatively peaceful state, with only one smelly boy (Pugsley) to contend with. Since our house has the wondrous thermodynamic gift of air conditioning, Pugsley wasn’t even all that sweaty.

In Houston in the summertime the most minimal outdoor activity (e.g., breathing) will lead to moderate sweating in about 13 seconds. Continual work outside leads to massive outpourings of sweat, enough to dehydrate a stout Jim Belushi into a withered Joan Rivers in about fifteen minutes of moderate labor.

So, this weekend, I avoided even moderate labor. It seemed to work. Typing was about as rough as it got. The Mrs. even did the mowing.

So, rather than parking my Texas license plates in a state with a sane temperature and spending my summer in some alpine palace with cold beer on tap from the bathroom faucet, I write to you from Casa Wilder in the hot summer sun.

Perhaps next year I’ll drive near my home and throw money out the window, soaking in a climate where nobody ever thought of owning an air conditioner. I think I'm figuring it all out . . .
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Don't you try and trivialize police work." - Carlton Lassiter, Psych


The Boy submits his retina scan for your enjoyment. Another example of pictures that you’d never expect when you give an ancient digital camera to a six-year-old for his enjoyment.

I mentioned last week that Wildercomputer 2000® (didn’t putting 2000 behind anything make it sound futuristic, even in 1997?) had a virus issue last week. I did some research online, and discovered that in order to protect yourself from fraud, you should do a police report indicating that some of your personal data may have been stolen. I followed this advice, and called my local police department.

John Wilder: “Hello, my computer had a virus. I’d like to do a police report.”

Police Chick 1: “Ummm, let me transfer you.” (Click – hum, music by The Cars)

Police Chick 2: “Yes?”

JW: “Hello, my computer had a virus. I’d like to do a police report. Did you want to come dust the disk drive for fingerprints before I reformat?”

PC2: “You can’t report a computer virus.”

JW: “Well, I read that I should, to prevent fraud and stuff.”

PC2: “You can’t report that you had a computer virus. We don’t do police reports for that.”

JW: “So, are computer viruses legal now? I mean, I thought that putting a virus on someone’s computer was illegal. Should I hire an Albanian hacker so I can gather whatever personal secrets Lindsey Lohan has left off of her RAM? Assuming she knows how to write, of course.”

PC2: “I’ve found that it’s better to hire the Latvians. They’re sneakier. Plus, I was looking for Brad Pitt’s hard drive bits, I hear he’ll be back on the market soon.”

In short (too late) they would not let me come in and report a crime, which, I’m guessing means that nobody’s watching and, really, nobody cares. I could have been calling to report that my clothes no longer smelled “clothesline fresh” after they came out of the dryer or that my tongue felt icky. Not choking, just a bit icky.

Some part of me felt marginally irritated that I couldn’t report something that, most certainly, is against the laws of Texas and the United States of America. Oh, sure, if they’d have hacked into Al Gore’s computer and stolen his weatherporn you would have seen J. Edgar Hoover’s dress-wearing ghost personally sniffing Al Gore’s C:\ drive for DNA.

Me? Not so much, which is okay, because J. Edgar’s taste in nightwear would probably clash with our carpet, and once you get a ghost in the machine, well, you’re at least talking about someone watching every breath you take. Assuming that J. Edgar could be a spirit in the material world, and talk about The Mrs. as if every little thing she does is magic. (In defense of the last paragraph, this is a story about The Police.

Hey, maybe I could call Sting and have him turn virus safety for computers into a global cause. He could have gala benefits, and maybe not suck as much as he has since, ummm, 1981.

But, no, I think I’ll turn my sights on Bono. U2 can be virus free. Bono – do it. This could win your glasses that Nobel Prize you’ve been looking for!
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Sunday, August 05, 2007

"I've learned to hate you in the last ten years." - Marion, Raiders of the Lost Ark


The Mrs. certainly did not sign on for sweaty, testosterone-filled excitement all of her married years, yet, lo, here she is, stuck with a gaggle of sweaty, testosterone-filled rowdy boys making her neat house smelly an icky.

Ten years. I believe ten years is the gestation period of an elephant, but I’m going off of hazy memory and probably just made that up. Ten years is also the length of time that The Mrs. has been married to me, and has carried the coveted title of “The Mrs.”. It’s a lot of punishment, but, if there’s a woman up for the task, it’s The Mrs.

Being married to me isn’t easy, in fact it’s probably one of the more difficult jobs in the world. First, well, there’s the obsession. The Mrs. chronicles one of my obsessions here.

Then, there is the fact that I’m picky as a billionaire at a debutante ball. The Mrs. indicates that there are foods that The Mrs. dearly loves that she has rarely eaten in the last decade (broccoli, squash, and, well, she’s sure there are many more, but it’s been so long since she’s eaten them she’s not sure if she likes them anymore or not). Me? If there’s a nasty cheese I want to put on chili dogs and then slather in yellow mustard? Game on, even though The Mrs. is certain I’m eating dirty sweat socks. Yet, she loves me.

My inability to see messes on the floor that my autonomic nervous system allows me to step around, yet my brain does not seem to recognize that any problem exists, though there may be a pile of Elmos® surrounded by baby clothes (and not clean baby clothes, if you know what I mean) right outside my bedroom door, stacked up to the six foot level.

I steal The Mrs. white sweat socks. Without permission. Even if there are the frilly scrunchy ones that gather in a girlish fashion at the ankle. Then I wear them outside, shoeless, in a journey through mud, and return them to her drawer, thinking that she wouldn’t notice.

Oh, and the first two years of our marriage, I used The Mrs. towel. One day, The Mrs. exploded in a fuzzball of rage, and indicated that it wasn’t cute. Okay, had my own since then.

I’m (hopefully) assuming that there are some redeeming qualities that make up for all my gross maleness. Why wouldn’t The Mrs. want to kiss me after I’ve spent enough time outside to sweat three quarts into my shirt and am covered with all manner of shredded plant matter from using every power tool that I own to keep back the tide of vegetable supremacy for just another week. Yup. Don’t see why a dirty, sweaty male like me doesn’t deserve a hug.

I took her out for our tenth anniversary, to a nice restaurant. Not knowing Houston, this particular nice restaurant was not the “romantic dinner” nice restaurant, rather it was, “out having a party” restaurant. The Mrs. took it in stride, though she boycotted the incessant stream of waiters that appeared at our side at the slightest provocation. Did I mention that I didn’t get her flowers because I got up late? Did I mention that I haven’t gotten her us an anniversary present yet? On our 10th anniversary? Am I evil, or what??

At least her towel is her own, now.

Thankfully, The Mrs. is too lazy to date. Besides, she knows all of my faults, and yet still tolerates loves me. What a woman. The Mrs. has extended my contract for sixteen more years, until Pugsley is ready for college.

After that I’m on a year-to-year, The Mrs. says. She says that about year 14 I need to start bringing my “A” game.
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

" If a shark stops swimming, it dies. Don't stop swimming, Mr. Mulder." - Deep Throat, The X Files


”Why no, I didn’t eat the cat. Certainly not raw. This? Fingerpaint. Really.”

“Well, what do you want to write about?” The Mrs. asked.

“Dunno,” I replied.

The Mrs. wanted me to write about a man, stranded on a desert island, whose only company is the sharks that incessantly circle the island. He has to eat the sharks, yet he is romantically lustfully drawn to them.

Hmmm, no.

A repeated criticism from The Mrs. is that life in Texas is, well, boring when compared with our former life on the frontier of human abilities to survive. That’s Alaska. In reality, I have to say that life in Alaska is much more interesting, more active, and the weekends are filled with many more endless possibilities than a weekend in Texas.

In Texas, there is a profusion of things to do. You can go see a concert put out by Alice in Chains or ZZ Top. I think a big name is here weekly. In Fairbanks? Gregg Rolie (the guy who sang “Black Magic Woman”) plays two (two!) shows at the Tanana Valley State Fair and if you’re busy, you missed the concert event of the year.

I could keep going, on culture, on art, on food, and on, well, the myriad of stuff that a person can purchase here. What’s missing? Well, there were deer in my backyard this week, but, alas, the element of wild nature, the slight risk that while you’re taking the trash out a grizzly bear might turn you into a two-column-inch national story about the guy who beat a grizzly bear to death with an empty beer bottle and a broken Pez® dispenser. “He put that grizzly down, put it down real good. Stuck the Pez© dispenser right into that grizzly’s pancreas. He came out of it with only 442 stitches. Might be able to open his eyelids again, with enough therapy.”

Also, down in Texas, the biggest hazard I face on a daily basis is that I might sweat somewhat profusely if my car breaks down. Then I might have to wait fifteen minutes for a tow truck to arrive. Or, I might get shot by a carjacker down in downtown Houston. (Grizzly bears rarely have guns, but have been known to carry chainsaws. Now, the hybrid grizzly-shark with a chainsaw and laser eyes? That’s scary.)

Anyhow, I don’t think there are any of those in Houston. Frogs, sure. But a frog couldn’t lift a chainsaw. Not a real threat.

The other item that bothers me is the things I make my family do we love to do as a family, well, they’re not available here, unless we want to go gather wood in the downtown park. They had a dim view of that when I was cutting down some old oak tree that Sam Houston had once carved “Sam Kicked Santa Ana’s Butt Right Here” down. Something about a felony. Didn’t hear much more, used the bear spray and got out of there.

Hiking? Sure. In the mall. Hunting? Sure. For bargains at Target©.

In truth, we haven’t been doing all that much on weekends because we have to keep the house up (somewhat of a fixer-upper) and every plant we have seems to grow an inch an hour. I’ve never weed-wacked flowers before, but if we didn’t, soon the vines would pull the whole place down, just like Rupert Murdoch soon will with the Wall Street Journal™, perhaps by putting tasteful line drawings of topless girls on the Journal’s page 3, combined with editorials by Bud Bundy on the free market economics (sorry for the obscurity of that one).

But, we’re here. For all of the whining above, we’ve enjoyed (most) minutes here. Boring? Sure. Love Texas? Well, let’s just say we’re reserving judgment on that one.

I’m just hoping that frogs evolve laser eyes soon. That would be so cool.
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