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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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"You're just not looking at the big picture, Doc." - Sawyer, Lost


Why would we need studio pictures of Pugsley? He took this one himself. Truth be known, if he gets his grubby hands on a camera, he’ll take about a dozen or so pictures of his eyes. I think he’s distracted by bright and shiny metal objects – put an LED in a chrome hubcap and he’d buy it, if he had money instead of blocks. Like father, like son.

We went off to Bullseye® (not their real name) on Sunday. The Mrs. likes to take pictures of The Boy and Pugsley on their birthdays (we can afford a birthday for each one, but they have to share a cake – each one gets the cake on alternate years) at an actual studio. I keep telling The Mrs. that we have numerous pictures of the back of their heads and we can print those out on plain paper, but for some reason The Mrs. insists that would be grounds for beating me with a broken broom handle.

So, off to Bullseye™ we went. The Mrs. had procured an appointment the day before, so it wasn’t like we were walking in begging for pictures to be taken on a whim. We had . . . an appointment.

We arrived two minutes early. We’re that prompt on the weekends, at least after noon. If we have an appointment.

The clerk dutifully gave us a clipboard to sign in on, along with requests for various bits of personal information, such as the liability limits on our auto insurance and our pant sizes. In the midst of this the photographer bursts from the studio, and begins pecking at the computer, and the snippet of conversation that I overheard indicated he felt they had “wiped all of last week’s data,” and that “John McCain is one scary dude.”

They ignored us.

After waiting ten minutes, The Mrs. and I had enough. The Mrs. crumpled the form (a-ha, now you’ll never know how long my inseam is!) and we walked out. They didn’t say wait, they didn’t say, “I’m sorry.” Nada.

The Mrs. was relatively infuriated.

I decided to assuage The Mrs.’ hurt feelings with a nice meal. We drove off to a restaurant. It had valet parking, but then again in Houston McBurgerBell® has valet parking.

No valet was in attendance. “Maybe they’re off getting pictures at Bullseye®,” The Mrs. observed.
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Monday, May 26, 2008

"Emphasis on doom." - Capt. Dylan Hunt, Andromeda


Many stone statues of Presidents. I had no idea that people in the past were so much more massive than people of today, and that no President had arms. Beyond that? I love Jefferson’s collar, but The Mrs. won’t let me buy one like that. Says I look too much like a pirate.

The Mrs. and I were in the car yesterday, and she mentioned that I am filled with the loving seed of Doom.

How so?

There is a cute (if you find mice cute) mouse hanging in our house. The Mrs. indicated the other day that it was running into things in the kitchen, and she either thought it must be blind or attempting to be cute enough that she would buy a no-kill trap for it and release it to the land of cheese.

Apparently that strategy worked, because we had to stop at Home Despot® this weekend and purchase a three-bedroom trap for the mouse that wouldn’t harm it in any way, unless it consulted a civil rights lawyer.

Now when The Mrs. indicated that this cute mouse was running straight into things, bouncing off, and then getting back up, I asked her if it was a cartoon mouse. The way The Mrs. described it, it sounded a lot like “Jerry” of Tom and Jerry© fame.

“Nope, real mouse.”

In reality, when critters act like that, I assume they’ve been drinking my beer (mostly unlikely, unless they have thumbs) or they’ve got some sort of disease that only Stephen King could adequately describe.

I mentioned that to The Mrs. She reacted poorly, renaming me ‘Buzz Killington’ for the moment.

We decided that was not quite correct. Hence, my designation as “Captain Doom.” She even suggested that she could get a Sharpie® and draw a little doom cloud emblazoned with a big ‘D’ on a white t-shirt. In that way, people could know of my super doom-forecasting powers.

I know that when we have an extra few bucks, chances are I’m going to ram my car into an unsuspecting idiot actually stopped at a yield sign and I’m going to have to fork a few bucks over because I’m pretty sure that money isn’t just to come to me and accumulate in my bank account.

Call me suspicious of the universe. I’ve been around long enough to not trust the idea of a free lunch.

So, I intend to remain doom-filled, but I intend to keep it bottled inside of me, like I keep my emotions. Because that’s healthy, right?
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Don't call me junior." - Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade


Alia Wilder and the Poster of Enormous Hugeness. You can see our fireplace in the background. Alia Wilder is invisible due to the gravitational lensing effect of Harrison Ford’s massive head.

As I have written before, besides his father (well, duh, me) The Boy has no better friend and role model than Indiana Jones®. Oh, sure, essentially everything Indiana Jones© does would nowadays be considered looting of cultural artifacts, destruction of prime scientific data and theft of national heritage, but he hates Nazis, killer religions, Nazis, and Commies, so that makes it okay.

Besides, if Indiana™ didn’t go get all that cool stuff, all he could do legally would be to go and unearth Swanson’s® frozen dinner tins from the 1950’s from the local landfill and attempt to escape the clutches of the EPA and the vegans who were unhappy that it was a turkey dinner, and that the turkeys should have been given several million years to evolve thumbs, language, and Turkey Idol© so that we could consider them to have culture. Thus, eating them isn’t good, it’s some sort of murder. But, it’s a tasty, tasty murder. With gravy.

Anyhow, Alia came home late last night, toting in sections of cardboard that were longer than she is tall. (Alia is fairly short, like 2’1” tall, so most Amazon.com cartons are bigger than she is.) She began assembling with some sort of parts that she had ferreted in various pouches secreted about her clothing.

While she industriously worked away, The Mrs. and I watched the old cast from MST3K skewer The Matrix, (you can buy and download this stuff from rifftrax.com) and, like usual, ignored her patently strange goings-on. She hasn’t attempted to burn our house down in a while, even accidently. If Alia wanted to tell us why she was assembling a huge cardboard structure in our front room, we guessed she’d tell us.

Eventually Neo© rescued Morpheus™ from Elrond®, and The Mrs. and I paid attention to the Great Construction Project going on behind us.

Alia S. Wilder stood the structure up.

There, before us, was the looming, obelisk-like visage of one Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.™

Eight feet tall, Indiana Jones® had now rescued our family from, oh, I guess it’s communists this time.

Alia S. told us, “I got it for The Boy. He likes Indy.”

Did I weep Internet? No. But I did have another beer, which is exactly like weeping, if you replace “weeping” with “having another beer.”

This was a very thoughtful think that Alia S. Wilder had done – she’d gotten this from work. Alia S. works at a movie theater in the entertainment industry, and had been given this massive, massive picture of Harrison Ford’s enormous head, surrounded by a sword-wielding androgonous person, Karen Allen, Mario (from Mario Brothers™) and a young Marlon Brando.

Is it just me, or is Harrison Ford’s head way bigger than Karen Allen’s head? Maybe they made Harrison Ford’s massive head look smaller in the first few movies through some sort of Hollywood® magic? Dang, that’s one big melon.

How did The Boy react, groggy after just waking up on a school day when he saw his idol taking up most of the living room?

He danced. The Boy danced the dance of a seven-year-old delirious with joy (but still well enough to go to school).

I imagine what he’s thinking: Crushing Nazis, getting The Girl, stealing really cool gold statues from Nicaragua.

Brings a tear to my eye, and by tear I mean “another beer,” and by eye I mean, "mouth."
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

"Was it a dinosaur?" - Hurley, Lost


A skeleton-zombie T Rex stalks an unsuspecting guy in a white t-shirt. Workman’s Comp rates for this place have to be high. You can click on it for embiggened goodness.

I work really hideous hours. I go to work when the folks on the East Coast are supposed to get there, and often leave about the time that people from Guam are supposed to go home. Do I intentionally work so hard? No. It’s because they beat me if I don’t work harder.

Weekends, though, belong to family, except for errant work-related phone calls that The Mrs. really, really loves.

So, this Saturday we had planned to go to the Houston Highland Games and watch a bunch of sweaty Scots throw cabers (trees). Heck, I had halfway convinced myself that I should go and throw a caber myself. I like throwing trees. The Mrs. reminded me that I didn’t have a kilt, and wasn’t a Scot, was old, and that my back hurt when I got up from chairs. I told The Mrs. that she was being defeatist, and that I could rip a t-shirt and have a kilt, speak with a brogue for the day, and drink enough beer so that my back didn’t hurt when I threw trees.

Didn’t matter. Everybody in the Wilder household was pretty darn tired on Saturday morning, and The Boy and Pugsley were likewise lethargic after bolting through an entire box of those tiny Dolly Madison® chocolate-covered donuts (if we don’t buy those, Pugsley just eats the frosting off of real-size donuts and puts them back in the box. You can get used to the flavor of the de-frosted donuts if you don’t mind baby spit.

Anyhow, by the time we all were awake, it would have been long after all the cabers had been tossed. The Mrs. and I were debating what we wanted to do for the day when The Boy piped up. “Let’s go to the Museum of Natural History and look at all the stuff we didn’t get to see the last time we were there.” I nodded at The Boy’s uncharacteristic bout of sanity, since just before he had been jumping on a tiny trampoline and laughing like a loon at the adventures of an orange cartoon cat that loves lasagna. The Mrs. objected to this. “Ummm, remember you have two boys we’re taking. Museums don’t tend to make toddlers very happy.”

“Oh, piffle, woman,” I replied, since I’d always wanted to say, “Oh, piffle, woman.”

We went. On the way, we stopped at Burger King® and I had to return home after a wardrobe malfunction with a Whopper© left me drenched in, as The Mrs. referred to it, “Meat Cologne.”

One change of wardrobe later, we arrived at the museum. On our previous visit, Pugsley had been in a stroller, now he was a free-range Pugsley. Since The Mrs. had objected to our destination based upon the crazed-weasel behavior of Pugsley, she noted that I was to make sure he didn’t singlehandedly destroy our records millions of years of Earth’s history in a crazed toddler-tantrum.

After watching a Foucault pendulum knock over a block of wood (higher tension than a Die Hard movie), we strolled first into the energy museum. The Boy and I were in hog-heaven.

If you look at what people in the energy business do, there is no real business that’s cooler. They take massive steel drills tipped with frigging diamonds and bore into the Earth and pull out highly pressurized explosive, flammable stuff that they then boil so you can drive to Target© and buy Cheezy-Puffs®.

That’s manly. We walked into a room where the focus was on seismic techniques to determine what the heck is below the ground (voodoo, I think it’s called, or maybe it was geophysics). There in the room they had a column of water with a nifty stainless-steel gizmo in it that periodically shot out bursts of compressed air into the water column. If you can imagine the huge, deep, “thwunk” that makes, well, you’ve probably been shot at with a 12 gauge while you were trying to swim away underwater from, umm, something you’d probably not like to talk about. It sounds just like that.

Anyhow, The Boy, Pugsley, and I put our hands on the outside of the cylinder, awaiting the next thwunk. It came.

The Boy pulled his hand away, thrilled. Pugsley pulled his hand away, and then hesitated in the way that only toddlers can before they either laugh or cry. It was cry. Pugsley was scared out of his little shorts, and it took The Mrs. about five minutes to console him. Stupid geophysicists.

Anyway, we made our way next to an exhibit about chemistry and physics. I could sense a buildup of frustration from The Mrs. as The Boy and Pugsley went from exhibit to exhibit learning about phase transitions, immiscibility of certain fluids, and differential density of various planets.

“What’s the matter, The Mrs.?” I asked.

I could see by the look on her face that the sheer testosterone-fueled nerdish exuberance of all of us was getting to her.

Well, we come by it honestly, even if we didn’t get up early enough to watch the sweaty Scots throwing trees, which, I know, is really, really, what all women want.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

" I can't wait til they start the internet." - Crow T. Robot, MST3K


How did we ever make it to the Moon without the Internet. Oh, yeah, really big rockets, lots of thrust. Sliderules.

I remember way back in the before-time, before there was the IntraTubes. Back then, The Mrs. and I would get in steel-cage death-matches over whether or not the actress in The Jerk was Jamie Lee Curtis (She wasn’t. I was, I know it’s difficult to believe, wrong on my actress identification.) or whether Jamie Lee Curtis is a hermaphrodite (Internet version: tie).

Now as The Mrs. sits and writes her novels (on the purchased one, the editor said, “I love working on your novel – editing is a dream.”), The Mrs. can effortlessly determine the average, real-time flow of water in the Sabine River in Texas, or view historical data on nose-picking rates among left-handed near-sighted dentists. Not that The Mrs. does that, since she doesn’t write about dentists or the Sabine River. But, The Mrs. could.

The Intertubes have, besides short-circuiting domestic disputes and keeping The Mrs. and I off of “Cops: Nerdville,” also given us instant access to meandering conversations from Pop Wilder in the Wilderbunker:

Pop Wilder: “John, I think they know where I live. Love, Pop”

John Wilder: “Pop, The code guy inspected the bunker when you pulled the building permits. The tax assessor valued the place at $231.34 last year. The Postal Service delivers the mail daily. Yes, they know where you live. Love, John”

Pop Wilder: “John, Is that why the President stopped by for scones and herb tea last week? It was nice. We watched The Wire on HMO. Love, Pop.”

Okay, there’s that, too. E-mail and instant messaging don’t necessarily lend themselves to the fifty-odd pages of letter that George Washington would write to Einstein (assuming that one wasn’t dead before the other was born) detailing the spring planting of hemp in Virginia and the potential ramifications on the Special Theory of Whoa I’m Totally Baked, Dude.

Instead, future historians will need to plumb the depths of recovered SIM chips in cell phones and attempt to decipher the near-hieroglyphic “LOL DUDZ IMO IDK TTYL.” In the future, Shakespeare’s lines of “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate,” may be replaced by Tiffany Q. Lowrisepants version of “U R 1 HOT T.” The English Lit profs will probably be ROFLPITP.

One of the nice things about the Internetnet is that you can get content that would otherwise be unavailable. The Mrs., Alia and I were watching South Park a month or so ago and they did a parody of the Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.” Even better, they did a parody of the film of Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” done by Encyclopedia Britannica in the late 1960’s (featuring star of stage and screen, Ed Begley, Jr.). I remember (vividly) watching that movie when I was in fifth grade. Since Trey Parker and Matt Stone probably watched the same exact copy of film (Trey, Matt, and I all grew up in Colorado) I really wished I could show it to The Mrs. and Alia S.

Thanks to Youtube, we watched it that night, so the ladies in the house could understand why I was laughing like a fool at several scenes. Mainly, really, it was so they could indulge my narcissistic side and make them watch that.

The Mrs. and I also loved (back in the day) Mystery Science Theater 3000®. Turns out that Mike Nelson has a site (www.rifftrax.com) that you can download audio tracks that parody currently popular movies. (If you liked MST3K, go, visit, purchase.)

Me? I think can barely remember the before-time, when I had to go to bookstores, and if The Mrs. and I got into an argument that we could factually prove, I could yell, “OMG, IS THAT A HERMAPHRODITIC SQUIRREL THAT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE JAMIE LEE CURTIS? ROFL!”

Less chance of me being a battered spouse on “Cops: Nerdville.”

Thank you, Internet.
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Nine hundred years of time and space, and I've never been slapped by someone's mother." - The Doctor, Doctor Who


The Boy and Pugsley paw through Pugsley’s birthday presents. No actual newspapers were harmed in the filming of this birthday.

I’m a slug. A horrible, horrible bad slug.

Let me explain.

It’s Mother’s Day (or is that Mothers’ Day? I’m thinking it’s Mother’s Day unless you can have multiple mothers.) and I woke up this morning at 11:00 (AM) or so. I looked and worried that there was coffee I could make, or perhaps bacon and sausage and eggs I could make. Instead The Mrs. walked in, gave me the standard WWE® tag-off hand slap and said, “You’re on.”

Me? I’d fallen asleep the previous night while The Boy watched Indiana Jones™ and the Temple of Doom®. I walked into the room when Indiana Jones™ was on his Last Crusade©. I read a book on probability and statistics (well, not so much, really a book on how we fool ourselves through probability and statistics, but that’s another story) while Indiana® and Dr. Henry Jones© deal with amazingly stupid Nazis© to find the Holy Grail®.

It was Mother’s Day, so I let Pugsley pick the next movie, which involved a mouse that’s either unable to talk, or, like Pugsley, faking the inability to talk. Never trust the ones that don’t talk.

During this The Boy said, “Mom picked Indiana Jones©, and Pugsley picked Maisey®, so I should be able to pick the next movie.”

He said this like it’s normal for a thirysomething mom to want to watch an Indiana Jones® movie first thing on Sunday morning, and that he was horrified and tortured to have to watch the whole thing.

I gave him my best “father knows you’re an idiot” stare, but allowed him to pick a Garfield™ movie anyway. I nosed back into my book on probability (and how we’re all idiots).

Eventually Pugsley headed down for a nap (during Garfield®) and The Boy continued to cackle like a grinning goofball at the antics of the lasagna-loving feline.

The Mrs. opened her cards from Pugsley, The Boy, Alia S. and me. She got the stuff she’d picked out yesterday.

Not a lot of excitement here at Casa Wilder after that.

We mulched some trees. I edged the lawn and drank some beer.

So, to all Mothers everywhere, happy Mother’s Day.

Let your husbands sleep in. They like that.
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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

"And I apologize for that. I thought it was a pool toy." - Tobias, Arrested Development


Pugsley wonders why fake-microwaved plastic chicken tastes exactly like real-microwaved plastic chicken.

One of the big benefits to living in the hellishly hot wonderful climate of Houston is that everyone has a swimming pool. Everyone. Even the local taco trucks have swimming pools on their roofs, though they don’t change the water near enough for my tastes.

We have one, too. Since we don’t have precious, sweet oil or wonderful, delicious natural gas bubbling up from our property, we don’t heat the pool. I believe, after living in Texas, we are the only ones who don’t regularly bath in gasoline since it’s cheaper than water. (It is. Move to Texas. After you fill up with sweet, sweet gasoline, they put a credit on to your account for helping you get rid of that plentiful stuff.)

It’s really only been the last week or so that the pool hasn’t been colder than an Paul McCartney’s ex’s stare after “When I’m 64” plays on the radio when she’s attempting to get her leg waxed.

On Saturday, it seemed nice and warm enough. My usual modus operandi on getting into the pool is to get on the diving board, get The Boy and Pugsley all excited (The Boy does a countdown) and jump in. I will admit I had somewhat the reputation of being a showboat at certain times (hint, hint, high school) but I never think it’s a bad thing to instill in your children that you’re larger than life, that you could whip an alligator, a grizzly, a rattlesnake (all at the same time, otherwise, what would the challenge be?), cut down a tree, and then whip their little hiney’s at chess while doing one-handed pushups.

In truth, Internet, I do it because I don’t want them to see me wince when I step by step edge a little deeper into the oh-so-cold water. Do you want to see your Dad be a wuss? No. Rip the Band-Aid® off, take the tax loss for unitemized depreciations carried forward into the current tax year, show your courage all at once.

So, we frolicked in the pool like crazed wombats with swim rings.

Did I mention that the pool was cold? It was. I have this little theory that running the water that goes back into the pool through black hoses makes it warmer, since it soaks up all the global warming. I’m not sure if that’s right, but for US$18.34 (that’s like six pesos nowadays) I can pretend that the pool is warmer as my pasty body plunges into its icy depths.

On Sunday, Pugsley turned the ripe old age of three. Pugsley refuses to talk, even though you can talk about very complex, multi-subject and verb sentences and he can carry out everything you ask, “Pugsley, carry out the trash, make me a Swiss cheese and mushroom omelet and work on solving Fermat’s last theorem. Now, please.”

And, he’ll do it. But he won’t talk.

I generally help pick out the presents, but this time The Mrs. bought Pugsley’s presents while I sat in the car and sweated with The Boy and Pugsley. I was busy figuring out how to turn “hot parked car air” into some sort of useful energy with them while The Mrs. picked out a selection of things that Pugsley had pawed at from the comfort of a Toys ‘r’ Us© shopping cart.

Heck, I’m still not sure of all the things that we bought Pugsley. The Mrs. might have gotten him a 12-gauge for all I know.

But one present stuck out from all the rest – a toy microwave.

Of all the things you can call Pugsley, just don’t call him late for dinner.

After cake and presents were done, The Mrs. and I were talking, and Pugsley was two rooms over. I asked (in a normal voice), “Want to get in the pool?”

In ran Pugsley.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” as he ripped his shirt and shorts off to get his swimming suit on.

Okay. He talks sometimes. And he has dog ears. Heck, he might even be reading now for all I know.

Just hope he doesn’t cause himself fake-radiation poisoning with that fake-microwave. Somebody should regulate those things.

Oh, wait, I think California already does.
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Sunday, May 04, 2008

" Dad, I have never seen Maris this angry. I swear, her eye was twitching like a frog in a science experiment." - Niles, Frasier


”Dude, that’s my skull.” – Jeff Spicolli I don’t know about you, but I thought that the inside of an alligator wasn’t so bony. Perhaps I thought they were made of Jolly Rancher© candy instead. Probably green apple.

The Mrs. says I don’t rest well. I tend to want to fiddle, fix, and fret when I have a few down moments. This weekend I sought to prove The Mrs. wrong.

It started on Saturday. On Saturday I got up (unwillingly and with complaint, as usual) with The Boy and Pugsley. The Boy, fresh off some new transgression at school, was banninated from television. We shared a hearty breakfast of Pop Tarts©.

Upon consuming the delicious chemicals meant to mimic strawberries, I assumed a prone position on the couch and proceeded to watch a special on the socioeconomic effects of the Little Ice Age (in 1732, Alburtus Gorus warned us all that newfangled sailing ships were “stealing the wind” and making the earth cold). As exciting as that was, I still fell straight asleep, but the “parent” kind of asleep, where whenever anything is too noisy or too quiet, you wake up and yell.

On one of those yells, I heard Pugsley rustling around in the kitchen.


“He’s in here with me, Father of the Year,” responded The Mrs.

Oh, good. The Mrs. is up. Now I can really sleep.

The Mrs. walks by. “What is this show? I walked by once and they were talking about the Spanish Armada. Now they’re talking about beer.”

“Little Ice Age,” I muttered.

“Huh. I’m going back to sleep.”

Eventually (two hours later) all the Wilders were ready to head out. By head out, I mean that we had exactly three destinations in mind – Starbucks©, The Scout Shop, and Toys ‘r’ Us™. At Starbucks© The Mrs. and I discovered that the primary cause of our extraordinary malaise that morning was an utter lack of caffeine in our blood. At The Scout Shop, The Boy had to bring his Scout Stamps in to pick out a prize for selling Scout Fair coupons. He picked out an orange-colored doo-dad that had a compass, flashlight, thermometer, whistle, and secret Cub Scout compartment.

Then, to Toys ‘r’ Us® for Pugsley’s birthday presents. Since Toys ‘r’ Us© were all out of One Rings (oooh, my precious) The Mrs. picked out something for Pugsley while he and The Boy and I went back to the car.

I was in the car with the air conditioning and the radio on.

The Boy: “Dad, would you turn off the air conditioning? I want to see how hot the car gets without it on.”

Me: “Sure.” I’m not one to avoid an experiment on myself even if it results in my blood pressure going up forty points, nearly enough that would have sweat blood, due to a massive ingestion of salt (yes, this really happened, and no, I’m not going to discuss it). The Mrs. chastised me soundly for this, indicating that there was a reason that doctors went to medical school . . .

Five sweaty minutes later The Mrs. bangs on the trunk, I press the button that opens it, and she puts in Pugsley’s birthday loot.

The Mrs. opens her car door and gets into the car.

“Jesus, John, are you trying to kill the kids?” The Mrs. asks as she gets into the oppressively hot car.

“The Boy wanted to run an experiment . . .”

From the backseat, The Boy announces, “Hey, cool, it got to 105°F. That’s like 500 kilometers!”

I could see the emotions warring on The Mrs.’ face. Finally it settled on defeat.

“Okay. There are two of you idiots. At least there’s still hope for Pugsley.”

Solar Power
Pugsley Turns Three
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