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, October 31, 2007

"As a friend, I have to tell you that you've finally gone around the bend on this ghost business." - Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters


Pugsley, riding a big plastic dinosaur straight to the big plastic dinosaur rodeo. Pugsley’s looking off into the sunset, just as every two-year-old hero should, after saving the school marm from the desperados and getting a lollipop, straight up, on a dirty stick.

Halloween has come and gone. This is the first year that The Boy has really done it right. Oh, sure, he’s knocked on doors after scurrying about in Fairbanks Halloween-level temperatures, but this year we pounded some pavement, house to house.

In Fairbanks, trick or treating consists (mainly) of either driving to the mall and wandering about with a host of other pre-teen kids as store employees dutifully give you one Tootsie Roll® each, and not the big Tootsie Roll, but the one that’s maybe half an inch long. Did I mention that the mall is brightly lit? And that everyone is wearing an overcoat over their super-cool Spiderman™ outfit? The alternative (if you don’t live in town and can’t sprint house-to-house before your ears freeze off) is to load up The Wildermobile and take The Boy to various houses of people we know, and then surprise them because they live in the country, too, and weren’t expecting trick-or-treaters. You get strange things, like Pop-Tarts®, ammunition, and frozen packages of moose steak as treats that way.

Tonight, however, we had a good, old-fashioned city Halloween.

The Mrs., Pugsley, The Boy and I went out trick-or-treating while Alia handed out candy at the front door. As we were walking I asked The Mrs. why Alia was dressed as a witch.

“Alia’s dressed as a mage. Get it right,” The Mrs. chastised.

My bad. In my defense they kinda look the same. Must be a different union.

Pugsley picked his own costume this year, choosing a fuzzy monkey costume. Pugsley will probably forget by next year that trick-or-treating while wearing a fuzzy monkey costume when it’s just above 70°F out is only a little more comfortable than choosing to trick-or-treat during the summer in Egypt while wrapped in live Siberian huskies. Pugsley was sweating like a FEMA official at a combination forest fire/hurricane by the time The Mrs. and he went back home to rehydrate him.

The Boy, dressed smartly in his ghost hunting outfit, continued to canvas the neighborhood as it got dark and as more and more porch lights began to illuminate the roads to high-fructose heaven. The Boy and I hit house after house, talking to neighbors that we’d lived less than a football-field away from, yet hadn’t even said hello to during over ten months of living here. Since they don’t know me very well yet, they were fairly polite.

The biggest thrill for The Boy tonight was when a 12 or 13 year-old came to the front door and saw The Boy’s costume.

“Wow, a Ghosthunter™! That’s a cool costume,” he said, looking at The Boy’s T.A.P.S.® (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) shirt and hat.

Despite getting only some of those gum drops that could double as pencil erasers and a box of Milk Duds dating from the Nixon administration, The Boy bounced away from the house.

“That was the best house yet, wasn’t it, Dad?”

Sure. Being seven and having a 12 or 13 year old think you’re cool? Yeah, that’s the best house of the night.

We walked home and The Boy indicated that he was getting ready to count his candy, then he’d eat some.

“Count his candy? Man, The Boy might be headed for a career as an accountant,” I told The Mrs.

“No,” The Mrs. explained, “It’s for school. His teacher assigned it.”

I would say that teachers have succeeded in sucking the fun out of Halloween, but I think The Boy would disagree. He got a heiny-load worth of candy.

For the record, 59 pieces of candy is equivalent to a heiny-load, and not a bit of ammunition in the batch.
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Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Kid, I'm a zoo clown. Now, buy a giraffe or go to hell." - Clown, Malcolm in the Middle


The Astrodome. They keep a secret government program to teach extraterrestrials how to make Japanese consumer products in there. Or the Houston Oilers® used to play there. I forget which. Anyhow, this is how it looks from a high-speed train.

Houston is big. Oh, sure, you might not notice that if you’re cooped up in an office all day filling out TPS reports (me) or stuck in a house (The Mrs.) with a grumpty-grump two-year-old (Pugsley). To really get the scope of the enormity of Houston, you have to go where the people are, even if you really, really, hate people.

On this occasion, The Mrs., Alia, The Boy, Pugsley and I all headed for the Zoo. For some reason, the Zoo in Houston runs a Halloween promotion called, “Boo at the Zoo,” which I find similar to the Department of Motor Vehicles running a special to commemorate hepatitis awareness. I suppose that “Hepatitis C at the DMV” isn’t nearly as catchy as “Boo at the Zoo.” But, I digress.

We decided to go to the Zoo, since seeing fuzzy animals was a better choice than the whole hepatitis thing. Since the parking near the Zoo is rumored to be as extinct as Madonna’s ability to be seen as cool and relevant, we decided to take the train in to the Zoo. The train ride was fun, and if there was a train remotely near the front door of Casa Wilder that went remotely near the front door of the place I work, my hiney would be firmly planted in the train every business day, and I would get there early, just so I could take up two seats – one for me and one for, heck, my coffee cup. Whatever, just so I could take up extra space. The Boy and Pugsley were wide-eyed as the electric train accelerated and decelerated as smoothly as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Cyberdyne Systems™ stainless steel skeletal system until we reached our destination. When the train attempted to grab them with its biomechanical arms, well, let's just say they were a bit more wide-eyed.

The end point of our journey was Memorial Herman Park. I kept wondering who Memorial Herman was, but it turns out this guy with the last name of Herman gave hiney loads (for those of you playing the Wilder Drinking Game, the second use of “hiney” is worth two shots) of money to various things that were more-or-less good for people. A whole crowd of folks was headed to the Zoo, and I veered a bit off the path they were following to see the nice fountain that commemorated Mr. Herman. As we left the fountain, The Mrs. said, “While you were reading that map, you took us through a whole throng of homeless urban outdoorsmen. You might want to pay attention when you’ve got the kids with us."

Apparently The Mrs. doesn’t trust my totally mad ninja skills.

Anyhow, we got to the Zoo. The line was kinda horrific, but we already had tickets, so we just walked on in. It felt like being Mel Gibson before that whole DUI thing, except that I didn’t have leather shoulder pads on.

The Wilder family made it into the zoo. It was, well, crowded, the kind of crowded that led you to need to wait 25 minutes behind the other seventeen families ahead of you to see the pigeon display. The pigeon display. Yeah. That crowded.

Navigating through the mess at the Children’s Zoo was likewise horrific. Finally, there was a slide where younger members of the family (namely, The Boy) could slide to the end of the fairly boring display of animals.

I told The Boy, “Wait for us when you get to the bottom.”

As we waded and navigated around the masses of humanity to finally get to the bottom, I saw The Boy climbing back up the slide back into the (enclosed wood box – think a deck with sides and a top, so not much different than a house if you're from Wyoming) place that we had just been in. I could sense that this stupidity was a stupidity bred by panic – The Boy got to the bottom, waited, no parents.

"They must have finally figured a way to ditch me, FOREVER."

I chased The Boy back through the maze of the “Fairly Familiar Animal” exhibit, and caught him just a bit later, say, 200 yards away. About twenty people saw me sauntering that way and said, “Looking for your boy? That way.”

Even now, adults rat on kids. Gotta love that. The Boy was scared as I’ve ever seen him when I caught him. I went fairly easy on him.

At this point, our Zoo adventure was over, less than thirty minutes into it. The Boy’s panicked flight was a good excuse. The Mrs. and I moved from a place where there were fewer people packed into a radius of 100 miles from town than there were within 100 feet from us. Since we're somewhat phobic about people, anyway, that makes us as oogy as Paris Hilton using our towels.

The train ride back to our car was uneventful. At home, The Boy got the butt chewing and explanation that he deserved. The Mrs. and I skated out to Best Buy® and bought a new wireless USB Internet (Pugsley’s eaten the last three) connection device, and then Alia went to her job slinging java. Back to normal.

It’s nice being in a house where there aren’t fifteen thousand people within ten feet of you. At least it’s easier to get to the bathroom, and there’s no line for beer. Mmmm, beer.
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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"I was in the toilet reading my contract, and it turns out, I get a bonus when we get to the World Series." - Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own


Barry Bonds. No World Series™ for him. Sorry for needling that old joke.

So, even though I’m the youngest child of the Wilder clan (excepting Pugsley, my gigantic progeny) I think I lost favorite son status the other day.

John Wilder is my brother. I know, I betting that you think that I’m John Wilder, but my brother is also John Wilder, John Ezekiel Wilder. I’m John Ingalls Wilder. It’s not that my parents were as unimaginative as your typical Hollywood® executive when they have the bright idea to remake The African Queen starring Harrison Ford and Britney Spears. (Note to folks who haven’t seen the original movie, it’s way better than the remake of the remake of The Dukes of Hazzard.

What happened is that Momma Wilder found me in the bulrushes with two tags around my neck. One said that my name was “John” and the other said that I was fully vaccinated against rabies until 2043. Oh, there were papers that said I’d been wormed. Momma Wilder took me home and then told her son that he’d have to go by the name of “Zeke” forever, while I could go by the name of “John.” Sucks to be the older brother, even if you are Pharaoh Wilder’s son.

Did I mention I freed the Israelites from Egypt? That was a cool story. My brother was soooooo pissed. Anyhow . . .

My brother scored World Series® tickets. Not for one game, but for two games. Four tickets for each game.

I called him and he told me. My brother didn’t cuss much when he was a teen. He cussed constantly. I cannot remember a single sentence my brother uttered between the ages of 12 and 18 (where he went to college on, what else, a baseball scholarship) when he didn’t utter some word or particularly poetic combination of profanity that would have gotten a Pope defrocked. I didn’t cuss at all. Why? Zeke told me if he ever heard me )&(&*^ cuss he’ break my ()&*$%& neck.

I like my neck. I get the last laugh, because he’s married and won’t swear at all because his wife will break his neck. I don’t cuss all that much, but when I talk to Zeke my language becomes saltier than Paris Hilton’s at the doctors when she’s describing what may have given her that latest rash. Do I revel in it? Yes, Internet. Yes I do.

So I’m on the phone with my brother. He tells me that he got the tickets.

Me: “You got World *#(@)_*g Series© tickets?”

Zeke: “Umm, yeah.” His wife is listening.

Me: “C’mon bro, say “World *#(@)_*g Series© tickets. It’s the World *#(@)_*g Series©.”

He doesn’t, because he can’t. This is the revenge of the little brother.

Did he invite me to go with him? No. He’s going to take his wife, his son, and Pharaoh Pop Wilder.

Pop Wilder’s parents moved from some northern state to wherever they settled because it was against the law there to play baseball on Sunday. Baseball is in Pop Wilder’s blood. Baseball is in Zeke’s blood. Some relative once played ball with Ted Williams (an old, dead, Red Sox© dude). Me? My fastball is like 22 miles an hour. I can catch a line drive coming at me at 140 MPH, I can hit a ball 475’ and run to first base before a pitcher can blink. However, when you watch me throw it’s like seeing Hillary Clinton throw a dead cat. Trust me, it’s not pretty. The Mrs. charitably calls it “throwing like a girl.” Sadly, for baseball you have to catch, hit, run and throw. Stupid throwing.

Okay. How do I top my brother taking Pop Wilder to not one but two World Series® games? Oh, sure, Zeke will take Pop to the World Series™ for Christmas and I’ll get him some red and green socks with LEDs in them that spell out “Merrrri Christm” because they got covered in Pacific Ocean spray on their trip over to Wal-Mart©. Sigh.

At least I can say “World *#(@)_*g Series©.”
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

'One boy's purse is another boy's book bag, if he's European." - Hal, Malcolm in the Middle


I accidentally caught The Boy and his opponent both floating above the ground. This is my theory of why young people don’t weigh so much – they tend to float.

Quote of the Week:
“How did you meet (PERSON X)?” asked Alia S. Wilder.
The Boy responded, “We drove to his house.”
And, no, we’re not in the habit of just picking houses on the street to go to dinner. But it has merits, if they have steak, or even cheeseburgers.

This weekend, The Boy had *two* soccer games, which is two more than I’ve ever played in my life, outside of when I was forced to in P.E. by a teacher who kept telling us, “This game is so important in Europe.”

Bah. I sat watching the football game today with The Boy, and pointed to a middle linebacker hitting a kick returner with (roughly) the force of a Mack Truck® hitting a chocolate duck. “See, that’s what I used to do the quarterbacks when I played football.”

The Boy turned to me, the thrill of the hit flush in his face. “Why can’t I do that in soccer?”

Good question. My only answer? “Different game, different rules.” But that brings us back to soccer.

The Boy hasn’t shown a ton of enthusiasm for soccer this season. The Boy’s first game ended up with him melting down on the field like Paris Hilton being put into a police car to be taken to the clink. Fortunately, The In-Laws were there with a minivan, and I got to drive The Boy home all by myself. Let’s just say that I was fairly vocal about my criticism.

I got home. Alia S. Wilder asked me, “Which speech did you give him?”

“Ummm, very disappointed, poor sport, you-don’t-want-to-be-a-quitter, heart-is-important-because-it’s-what-matters-in-life, now-go.”

“Oh, yeah, remember that one.”

Me, too. I had that speech given to me in 1st, 3rd, and 4th grades. I don’t know about every family, but in the Wilder house everybody gets that speech. It seems to sink in before we hit double digits in age.

On Saturday The Boy played like he was on fire. Well, not really. The Boy didn’t run around screaming and then drop to the grass and roll. In actuality, he did things that were positive for his team, rather than just stalking around the pitch crying.

On Sunday, not so much. The Boy was on the field. While he didn’t actively distract them, he didn’t actively help his team, either.

They’re at that delicate soccer stage where they’re starting to learn offense and defense and not just run after the ball like a pack of poodles chasing a Siamese cat with a pound of bacon tied to its neck. Playing defense is a bit of a mystery (like where does milk come from) to him.

(An aside. The Mrs. and I were engaging in banter with The Boy one night and quizzed him on where he thought milk came from. His frank answer, “Machines make it.” We told him that people squeezed it from cows. “Noooooo. Really?”)

So, playing defense consists a lot of standing in one place and going for the ball if it comes directly to him. We’ll work on that. Pretty soon he’ll be one of the poodles chasing the bacon.

Do Europeans even eat bacon? Nevermind. I think The Boy will do fine in football. I’m just worried about him wanting to tackle the opposing teams this season. Not that I’m entirely opposed to that.

It’s amazing when a plan comes together.
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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back." - Dr. Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters


The Boy prepares his Protonic Accelerator for use against Louisiana. Stupid Louisiana.

So, I’m nearly better. I can see why people don’t want to navigate to a website where a guy complains about how much his leg hurts and how he wishes the damn kids would get off his lawn and how he wondered when the next episode of “Barnaby Jones¹” would be on.

My leg is pretty much better.

Recently, however, The Mrs. has been missing Fairbanks more a lot more than Britney Spears misses her kids, or Paris Hilton misses a long, hard, night feeding the homeless, or whatever she calls it nowadays.

Fall in Houston is essentially exactly like Summer in 99.85346% of the rest of the country. In Houston, there are exactly two weeks where I don’t have to mow the lawn. It’s called January 7 through January 21. I think that has something to do with Sputnik, or Apollo, or perhaps Al Gore’s Nobel Prize®. I’m pretty sure that if my leg had felt better that week that they would have been calling me instead of Al, since I have documented evidence (I wrote it myself) that Wilder By Far has prevented no fewer than seventeen world wars and thirty-six Genesis reunions. In happy news, I found out that I did end up right above Tony Blair’s nosehair. Okay, that feels better. I believe fully in Peace© through Tony Blair’s nosehair.

Back to Texas.

We’ve not been in Casa Wilder (South) for a year yet, but (most of us) have been in Houston for some large fraction of a year now.

It’s tough on us. Alaska is an outdoorsy, tough sort of place, yet full of life and rewarding. People were an outdoorsy, tough sort of people, yet accepting and accommodating. We miss that, since Houston is very much like a large conglomeration of strip malls approved by some faceless urban planning board with Darth Vader© as Chair Cyborg.

Part of the charm of strip malls is that they’re the cheapest construction made by man (outside of adobe) surrounded by an ocean of chewing-gum-covered asphalt with a hot gasoline smell, accessorized with empty Slushie© cups blowing in a languid breeze.

Where we live, each strip mall has stores made of brick (BRICK!) with mandatory tree planting chosen by some former high school cheerleader (Vice Planning Board Chair Person) who majored in Croatian Literature in college, before her knee blew out and she was forced to settle and marry the local orthodontist.

However, The Boy loves Texas. The U.S.S. Lexington is in Texas (Corpus Christi) and he indicated that he’d rather go visit it than go to Disneyland© or Disneyworld® even. The Boy is seven, and only wants to go see the Lexington because he’s sure that there are ghosts there. Me, I’m just happy that I don’t have to pony up to drink beers out of mouse-eared beer cans (horrors) or have to deal with Goofy™ turning down our bedspread and then getting into an awkward fight because he I thought he was giving The Mrs. the eye.

Saving the related legal fees alone makes living in Texas worth it.

Beyond all that, I know that our time in Texas is limited because The Mrs. has said that she wants to move someplace cold. Texas, my friends, ain’t it.

How long will we be here?

Somewhere longer than another year (probably) and somewhat less time than it takes a proton to decay (over 10×1035 years for the half life) and turn the universe into a heat-dead sea of subatomic particles where any coherent organization is possible.

Yeah. That gives me some wiggle room. Now, get off my lawn.

¹Barnaby Jones was a show we made fun of when I was a kid because only old people would watch it, sort of like when we would put “Kick Me” signs on the back of Moses in Aramaic, since Moses couldn’t read Aramaic. Barnaby Jones cannot read Aramaic. Indiana Jones® can. I’m thinking the neighborhood kids will make fun of me because Indiana Jones© is on.
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Pulled a hamstring playing twister. Thought I'd walk it off." - Dr. House, House, M.D.


A granite statue of Sam Houston. This statue never pulled a hamstring. Darn statues, anyway.

There was a TV show back near the dawn of HD color that was called Get Smart. This series chronicled the adventures of Agent 86 of Control (the super-secret agency), Maxwell Smart. One of super-science villains that tried to kill Maxwell Smart was Leadside. Leadside was normally bound to a wheelchair, since he couldn’t walk. Control agents attempted to protect Maxwell by cordoning off his building, looking for a guy in a wheelchair. When a jogger came through, nobody notice. See, Leadside couldn’t walk, but he could run.

I feel that way.

I think it started with the fire ants.

I was minding my own business, trimming the hedges (Am I the only one that likes to pretend the hedges scream when you trim them?) and found that my leg was covered in fire (ants). Fire ants tend to climb up and on you, as unnoticed as George Clooney at a Star Trek® convention. (Note: put any chick George has ever dated into a Klingon© outfit, and she would have to fight off legions of drooling Trekkers. George? Not so much.)

Fifteen or so of them decided to bite en masse and I responded by leaping up vertically like Wile E. Coyote and then scampering in the air for a second until I caught traction. I think it was at this moment, as the alkaloid poison from the Solenopsis Invictus (cool name for cruddy little fire ants) began to slowly evoke all manner of response from my body. My jump in the air must have pulled my hamstring, which had never (really) gotten better after a bout of high school football.

Happily, I can walk like a champ. Sadly, my hamstring fills my body with a hideous, searing pain whenever I sit down in a chair. Oh, and whenever I get up from my chair. Driving? Shear agony.

Sitting and writing, like right now? Not great, but with enough beer fortitude I can tough it out.

I’m quite sure that more than one of you was worried that I’d had a stroke when Al Gore won that Peace Prize™ for publicizing Global Panic Warming®. I’ve been eyeing that Prize©, and even have a spot on the mantle all ready for it. Thankfully, no.

Just fire ants. But they’re probably Global Warming Fire Ants.

Anyhow, yeouch. I’m going to go lie down (which feels fine, too).

Dang Al Gore, anyhow.
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Yeah, he got injured on the job and they just sent him home with pay. It's like a lottery that rewards stupidity." - Lenny, The Simpsons


I thought I'd give you a Wednesday picture of Pugsley of Arabia.

I'm not feeling especially well right now (weekend stuff you'll hear about later) and got home from work late (business dinner). More probably tomorrow.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

"So I guess a rocket is standard picnicking equipment in Japan, isn't it?" - Tom Servo, MST3K


Row upon row of trophies for the Space Derby. Do you want one as much as I The Boy does?

It’s 1957, and in October the Soviet Union (the Bad Guys, for those who slept through freshman history) launches Sputnik atop kerosene-oxygen stored kinetic energy. As the rocket slips the surly bounds of Earth for the heavens, America quakes in anticipation of Soviet attack.

It’s 2007, and in October Cub Scout Pack 8675309 launches a whole heiney-load of balsa wood rockets horizontally along fishing line atop a blast of propeller wash and rubber-band-stored kinetic energy. As the rockets slip the surly bounds of the Launching Point for the other side, Houston, Texas quakes in anticipation of who will win the Cub Scout Pack’s massive trophy for first place in the Space Derby.

The Boy (and The Mrs. and I, to some tiny extent) had built the rocket the previous week. I had looked on the box and had guessed that the rocket on the box was just a quick bit of assembly of various parts. It sat on my computer unopened for nearly a month after the first pack meeting. I guessed that completion would take thirty minutes, tops. Oops. I seem to have miscalculated. The level of effort required to complete the kit was not unlike the level of effort required by the Soviets to get Sputnik up in the air, since the kit was two bricks of balsa wood, and about 115 other parts. I think the Soviets only advantage on us was their entire military-industrial complex.

Oops. The Wilders don’t have a military-industrial complex. We do have some chainsaws, though.

I looked at the parts and determined that it would take an adult with an engineering degree about 35 hours (including time back and forth from the fridge to get more beer) for assembly. Essentially, knives were forbidden in the construction of the U.S.S. Ghost Hunter, so all of the balsa had to be shaped with sand paper. I helped The Boy with some of the tougher sanding, and in drawing straight lines on the rocket body so he could install the fins.

The fins that he finally cut out were as jaggety as the Dow-Jones Industrial Average after the Fed spent a week in Vegas with a batch of hookers, but The Boy seemed happy as we slapped the fins into the hull. The Mrs. helped with painting, and finally, the greatest rubber-band-powered balsa wood rocket in the history of the Wilder house was complete.

The Mrs. and I showed up right at the start of the Space Derby. The Boy’s rocket had been signed in the night before. The Mrs. had signed up to help out with various Pack activities. This was one of them. The Mrs. asked what in particular they needed help with, and they said, “Umm, whatever.” Despite our thoughts that sleeping in with a hangover would be “help” they thought that we actually had to do something. Ugh.

This led The Mrs. and I winding about a bazillion winds rubber bands on Saturday. The idea was that each rocket got four races against the competition. Four races times a bazillion rockets? Four bazillion windings. The track had room for four rockets at a time, so we wound up rubber bands (85 times per rocket, times four races times a bazillion rockets, equaling something like 380 bazillion rocket windings) to get the race ready.

The Mrs. and I worked as a rubber band winding team, getting (often) two rockets ready in the time that it took four other people to do one each. Proud? Yes. The Mrs. and I work well together to get stuff done. That’s what I like about The Mrs. Along with the fact that The Mrs. showers on a regular basis. Definitely a plus, that.

The majority of the Cub Scouts were wrestling, playing, running, and goofing around like boys should.

The Boy’s rocket was sleek, ready, and took second place in his Den. In my mind, this was the first trophy that The Boy had ever won, since the soccer teams gave out a trophy just for participating, which in my mind is like getting an Olympic® medal for walking across the lawn without getting dog poop on your shoes or falling down on your face when you come to the intersection of the sidewalk and the lawn. To extrapolate the logic, if you made a movie, you would get an Oscar® if you made a movie, even if you were Paris Hilton.

That’s just wrong.

The Boy continued playing in the nearby playground while the other Dens raced rockets.

The Boy finally face-planted hard enough off the playground equipment to come to his rubber-band-winding-parents complaining of the wood chips embedded in his retina. I rubbed some dirt in his eye, and told him to go back and play. He did. An hour later, another Cub Scout swung a seventy-pound steel door on his left big toe when he had to go pee (crinkling up the whole toenail part of the toe and causing copious amounts of blood to flow, in addition to the requisite leg crossing from the whole needing-to-pee thing) and The Mrs. and I decided to forego the rest of the rubber band winding and take The Boy to first aid.

Good. A boy should feel some pain now and then. Especially The Boy. It’s good for his soul.

Now, stop your whining and get to making your Pinewood Derby car. Soviet children don’t cry that way.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

"Because it's my birthday, and I wants it." - Smeagol, Lord of the Rings


It’s Pop Wilder’s birthday today. Sending things like cards take valuable time that I could use drinking beer reading the Bible, so every year I send him an e-mail telling him thanks for putting up with me when I was younger. Think of it as turning sloth into a higher purpose, kind of like when your kid gives you a construction paper card for Father’s Day, with one year scratched out and replaced with the next.

With that, I share with you the 2007 version of my birthday letter to Pop Wilder:

Happy Birthday!!!!!

Seems like just yesterday when I was there at the Wilder Bunker and helping you haul in enough firewood to last until 2143.

Some of the things that I’m thankful to you for:

-Thank you for ignoring that lying bus driver when I was in kindergarten. I most certainly did not have to sit next to her because that was the only way that she could keep an eye on me. Also, I most certainly did not open the door while she was making a turn. Finally, I did not open that door because I thought it would be more efficient if she didn’t have to stop when she came to our house. If she never called you like she told me she would, never mind.

-While we’re on kindergarten, thank you for calling the cops when I went sleepwalking and was asleep in the closet. It shows you care.

-Thank you for not freaking out too much when you found that I’d opened up the ink tubes from those pens that you brought home from work to do some impromptu artwork under my bed. I’m especially happy that you didn’t mind when you found that that artwork on the hardwood floors the night before we moved after we’d sold the house.

-Oh, and thank you for not being mad when I took all of the family photos and immersed them in water trying to stretch them and make them bigger, like I’d seen on TV (I think it was Greg Brady that did this). At least I turned off the light before I destroyed soaked our irreplaceable memories.

-Did you know there are household chemicals that you shouldn’t mix? Found that out in the bathroom when I added them to the photos. I sure am glad I got out before the levels were lethal.

-What did the poison control center say after you discovered that I’d eaten all of Mom’s birth control pills when I was four? For the record, they’re not as tasty as they look in the package.

-Thank you for solving the mystery of the bear that I saw on Christmas Day after getting that new Daisy™ BB© gun. I really must still say that a black plastic bag stuck on a barbed wire fence looks exactly like a bear, especially in the snow. I’m sorry you fell down in the hip-deep snow. Was it cold?

-I’m still amazed that you and Mom never asked how the muddy footprint got on the ceiling when I was in third grade. Seems I forgot to tell you that I’d spent the day in the river with C.R. and when I’d gotten home I’d flicked the blue Keds© off of my feet and one went just a wee bit farther and higher than I’d expected. I still remember watching it go end-over-end in a silent upward trajectory, bits of mud shooting off in spirals down the hall. I also remember the splat sound it made as the sole of the shoe hit the ceiling absolutely flat, and then looking up and seeing my muddy footprint up there. I imagine you and Mom looking up at the perfectly white ceiling, seeing the perfect Keds™ imprint, and thinking, “I don’t really want to know . . .”

-Thank you for ignoring the semi-constant smell of ozone from my bedroom and the continual trips I made to the breaker to flip it back on. Did you know that a ten year old can make a decent electric arc welder using pretty much anything that plugs into the socket and a steel rod? I sure didn’t. That might explain the carpet burns and how I couldn’t see anything for a week. For the record, I still can’t weld very well.


How are things in the bunker? I hope that your ammunition still remains dry.

Okay, sure, so this has very little to do with the actual e-mail I sent. It was way more sappy. But all of the stuff up there is true. How did I ever remain alive?
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