Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The curse lives on.

At five o'clock tonight, my Wonderful Wife noticed that my daughter's fever was not going away with Tylenol.  We had figured that it was just a plain old ear infection, just like she always gets, so running her to the walk-in clinic for a prescription will be the best thing to do.

Three hours, one copay, and a Strep test later, we find out there is no ear infection, but rather a case of Strep.  Awesome.  She can no longer be sent off to Grandma's for the night, and that ends the plans.

I've convinced my WW that this is not a stretch of bad luck, but rather a curse.  We will have to see what happens next year.

Now, if I can stop being Mr. Matthew Moperson, and quit being such a mope, my wonderful wife might be able to tolerate me better.  The kid is finally in bed, I've rented a movie to watch (Burn After Reading), and at least I have the love and company of a beautiful woman.

I'll be fine tomorrow.

Sandie's new website!

I just launched a new blog for my MIL.  She is about to have double knee surgery, and her recovery will be a long tough road. 

She'll need your prayers to make it through her surgeries -- drop in and leave her a positive message.  She will really appreciate it, and so will I.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Kids + New Years = No More Partying

We had a good run, didn't we?

There were so many awesome New Years parties, weren't there?  Yep, there sure were.  But we are in a lean time here... the recent New Years have not been up to par with the parties of the past.  And I'm not sure how this year will go yet.  
Let me count 'em down for you, as best as I can remember.  As long as ten years ago, the parties were awesome. 
  • Celebrating the coming of 1999 and 2000, I spent New Years at my friend, Mike Walsh's, family restaurant -- Duffy's Tavern in West Haven, Connecticut.  The night began with a full dinner and the party would go from zero to sixty quickly from there, with full restaurant sing-a-longs and a full open bar.  Nice and full.  The restaurant was closed to the public those nights, so we had the place to ourselves, just me, Mike, his wife, and his fifty closest friends.  Good times.
  • In celebration of 2001, I returned to Duffy's Tavern, but this time with my future Wonderful Wife.  I had flown her into town just in time for the party, and just in time to ride shotgun with me and everything I owned on the way to my new residence in the Deep South.  I remember exactly what she wore that night: a black catsuit that would slap the eyes out of your head.  I was stunned by her beauty, and I'll never forget how she looked that night no matter how hard the drinking throughout the rest of the night tried to erase it.
  • With the coming of 2002, I celebrated with my Future Wonderful Wife and her entire dance team in New Orleans.  She had gotten a gig to dance for a corporate party and we were all flown in for the show.  I made friends with a bunch of people I would never see again, but still had a great trip, and an interesting New Years.
  • To ring in 2003, my FWW and I, along with roommates Howie and Darryl, threw the party to establish all other parties.  Holy moly.  I think we crammed 50 people into our apartment and I spent the night playing bartender to a thirsty crowd.  People still talk about the Chocolate Martinis that were shaken that night.  
  • The following year, we met good friends of ours at a local watering hole, only to find out at 10:30 PM that they were closing at 11:00 PM  (were they serious?).  So we invited those few people over to our new house to watch Dick Clark count down to 2004.  Disaster averted.
  • In honor of 2005, a friend of ours hosted a party of their closest friends where I attempted to reprise my role as bartender.  It was a lot of fun, however I learned the hard way that the bartender should not taste everyone's drink to "make sure it tastes okay."  
  • My WW and I decided that it would be best to ring in the new year 2006 at home with our 29 day old child.  And so it was that we napped until 11:30 PM, and woke up in time to feed the kid and watch the ball drop.
  • We decided to try to recreate some of the party magic that happened back in 2003 to bring in 2007.  After a run to the walk-in clinic to diagnose our kid's ear and sinus infections, we dropped the kids off at the In-Laws and got the party started.  It was a lot of fun, but nowhere near the hootenanny that happened a few years earlier.  The party was somewhat dampened by the downpour that was happening outside, but the atmosphere was warm inside and our friend all had a great time.
  • On the eve of 2008, we brought our kids back to the walk-in clinic for what seemed to be our annual New Years Eve ritual visit and diagnosis.  This time, however, they were too sick to leave with the In-Laws.  We dropped them off long enough for WW and I to have a quiet dinner at a local sushi/thai fusion restaurant, and then took them home for an early bedtime.  I remember watching A-Rod on Dick Clark's TV program thinking, "he is working hard to get his contract".  That was one of the highlights of the evening, I'm afraid.  (Anything Yankees related on TV is notable to me now that I'm in Braves country.)
And here we are!  Ready to ring in 2009.  We took the kids to our annual walk-in clinic visit early this year and they are over the worst of their ailments.  I don't want to jinx it, but we might actually be able to have ourselves a party night!  Here's the catch -- one of us has to drive!  
Of course, you might say.  Isn't that the way it always is?  Sure, for you, maybe.  But for me, at all of the recent 10 years worth of partying, I had a ride or I was staying where I was partying.  This year poses a different challenge.  We aren't planning on getting a ride, and we aren't staying where we might be going.  
So I am volunteering to stay sober.

(pausing for that to sink in)

(Deep Breath)

Yep.  No drinky.  
Ok, maybe a beer early in the night and a toast at midnight, but other than that, nada.  I have done it before -- I stock up on energy drinks and get my high from the caffeine rush.  I can play bartender, and that is fun for me and everyone else I concoct my drinks for.  It's just as much fun as getting my drink on, up to a certain point.  Once people start getting sloppy, it's no longer fun.  Mostly because they aren't funny anymore, just sloppy.  And then I feel like I have to take care of them, and that's no fun either.  When you drink, you are pressing the "no responsibility" selection on the menu.  When you don't, you are choosing the "i'll take care of your drunk ass" button.

At least the kids will be at the In Laws.

There's something in there...

There is something in our dehumidifier, and i'm too chicken to see what it is.

My Wonderful Wife noticed a strange clicking/scratching noise coming from the dehumidifier.  The water catch basin is connected by a hose to a pipe leading outside of the house.  I'm not sure if there is any kind of screen on the end of the pipe, which would prevent entry into the pipe and hose.

Anyway, the noise showed up today, and she wanted me to see what I thought.  I listened, didn't hear anything, and dismissed it.  When she came down to listen again, there it was, just as she expected it.

Great.  Now I can hear it.  
I have chill bumps all over my body thinking about what could possibly be hiding in my dehumidifier.  
I'm wearing a t-shirt and shorts with no shoes or socks.  When I finally get up the nerve to open up the catch basin I'll have to outfit myself with long pants and boots, just in case.  I'll probably also need my dead-blow mallet, too, to provide some good melee action.  Maybe I'll also need a shovel to scoop up the dead carcass (*shiver) or to use in a defensive tennis move to ward off any jumping attackers.

I seriously need to quit the horror movies.
Actually, I haven't watched any in a while...
I seriously need to stop reading Stephen King books.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Seven Pounds

I have been wondering what is up with the new Will Smith movie, Seven Pounds, since I saw the first trailer.  

Which Will Smith will we get in this movie?  The happy fun times one from Hitch?  How about the ass-kicker from Independence Day or Bad Boys?  Or is it the serious, heart-string-puller from Pursuit of Happyness?  I don't know.  Kinda looks sadder than that.  This Will Smith looks almost morose, saddened by his very existence.  What's up with that?  I don't really favor this kind of Will Smith.

And what does the Seven Pounds refer to?  I immediately thought of the Shakespearean comedy, The Merchant of Venice, and the pound of flesh that Shylock demands from Antonio.  Or perhaps the pound of flesh John Doe demanded from one of his victims in the movie Se7en?
A web search produces a whole bunch of people wondering the same thing.  What the heck is up with this movie.  Not many answers.  
Some think it might be a baby, some think it refers to the weight of the average human baby.  Neither of those are correct, by the way.  One magazine speculates that the movie is an elaborate way for Will Smith's character to atone for the deaths he caused in a drunk driving accident.
Hmmm.  Happy times.

Any way you slice it, it is interesting, and i am intrigued. 

Fun search results

I love it when the oddest search results end up leading people to my blog.  Here are some of the latest:

"dibble dibble dop"
"gooped on gop"
"zombie eats children"
"madface jesus"
"special words for a wonderful daughter" (aw, ain't that sweet)
"want free music of irish wedding song may god bless this cople"  (yes, with the misspelling)
"Dipa Balakrishnan" and "Deepa Balakrishnan"  (huh?)
and there are a tragic number of death related ones that lead to my article about Pete Kamide.  I don't think that this is my version of Stephen King's "Rage" (which he later took out of print because of all the shootings he thought it contributed to).  But i think it is a little disturbing.
"died pomperaug high school"
"i with my gym teacher died"
"pete kamide teacher"
I am surprised at how many hits I get from people interested in Pete.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Bedtime Story

Bedtimes ain't easy.
We have our rituals: bath time, naked time (this will be covered in a future post), pajama time, brush teeth and cup o'water time, and reading time. But the whole going-to-sleep-as-soon-as-possible-so-my-parents-don't-explode time ritual isn't quite worked out. For the past few months, in order to get the kids to sleep we would have to lay down with them in their big beds, and wait patiently for them to fall asleep or for them to dismiss us to our parental chores. The latter was rare.
I discovered a minor miracle -- telling a new and completely made up story to each kid in their dark room fills their minds and encourages them to nod off much easily than in the past. The bonus is that we don't have to lay down with them, and are free to do more fun stuff (like do the dishes, or put away the chaos of toys in the living room) much earlier.
My first story is called "The Magic Book". I made it up from scratch one night on a whim, and i have told it to them on most nights since then It starts out the same, has some similar elements in each telling, and ends in the same predictable way that lets them know it's time to sleep. Here's how it goes:

"The Magic Book", by Matthew Ackerman
(variations to be published later..., all copyrights are implied and enforced!)

There once was a small boy who, when he got home from school one day, he decided to visit his Grandpa. So he got on his bike and went on his way.
He rode, and he rode and he rode.
He rode, and he rode, and he rode some more.
He rode past the General Store.
He rode past the Supermarket.
He rode past the Library.
He rode past the Town Hall.
Eventually, he got to his Grandpa's house.
He rode his bike up the driveway, pitched it into the front yard, ran up the front steps and knocked on the front door.
"WHO IS IT?" boomed his Grandpa.
"It's me, Grandpa," said the boy.
"Oh, well now, come on in, son" said his Grandpa. "Come right on in. Can I get you a cold glass of Iced Tea?"
"Yeah, Grandpa. That would be great."
"Well, then why don't you make yourself at home while I fix it for you." And off he went to the kitchen.
The boy headed to the sitting room, the big room with Grandpa's big chair. He walked over to the chair, the cushy chair with the straight back and the funny smell. That funny smell of Grandpa's. He looked up at all the books on all the bookshelves on the walls. There were so many books he couldn't even count them all.
There were brown ones.
There were blue ones.
There were red ones and green ones.
There were even a few black ones.
But there was one in particular that caught the boy's eye, a brown one just a little darker than the others on the bottom shelf. The boy walked over to look at it. He tried to pull it off the shelf but it was stuck. With two hands he gently tugged at the book and with a cloud of dust that tickled his nose, it came free.
The book was heavier than it looked. He lugged it over to his Grandpa's chair, sat up in it, pulled the book onto his outstretched legs and opened the book to the first page.
"The Magic Book," read the first page. Hmmph, thought the boy, this book doesn't seem so magical. I wonder what makes it so special. And he turned the page.
There were no words on this page. Just a picture.
It was a picture of a wide open field.
The field was marked by a stone wall on each side, and there were rows of trees on the edges of the field. The tall grass was green in the bright sunlight, and there was a thin dirt path that winded its way from the close edge of the field to the far end. At the far end of the field, on the path there seemed to be a little girl with a small dog. They were hard to see from this view, but they were there.
And was the dog's tail wagging? Actually wagging? Nah. Couldn't be. It's not like this was a movie; this was just a book.
And he turned the page.
On this page, there was a picture of the same field. Only this time, he was much closer to the field. He could see the grasses much clearer now, and could almost make out every blade of it. He could see the seeds on the tips. He could see some of the rocks on the close end of the dirt path. And he could see the girl and the dog better now too. They were closer now, a little further down the path.
And he could still see that dog's tail wag. Every so often it looked like his tail moved. The dog's tongue was hanging out of his mouth, too. Could he see the dog actually panting?
The boy turned the page.
Here was another picture of the field. In this view he was practically standing on the path too. He could almost feel the rough and bumpy dirt under his feet. He was very close to the girl and her dog now. He could see the details on her shirt, and the different colors of the dog's fur.
The boy could hear the footsteps of the girl and her dog coming closer. He could hear the dog panting, and he could see the tail wagging. He saw the girl smile at him.
The boy turned the page.
There was the dog, right up close, with its nose practically coming out of the book. And then, all at once, the dog poked his head up out of the book and planted a big dog lick on the boy's face.
This surprised the boy so much he jumped right in the chair. The book fell from his lap, onto the floor, the cover closing on it with a thud. *thud*
"Everything okay down there, boy?"
"Yes, Grandpa. Everything's fine."
"Okay. I'll be right down with your Iced Tea."
The boy slid off the chair, picked up the heavy book, and walked it back to it's place on the bookshelf. Just as he finished sliding the book back into place, his Grandpa came into the room.
"Here you are, son," Grandpa said, handing the boy his tea. "So what would you like to do this afternoon?"
The boy smiled. "Maybe we can sit and read for a while?"
"Sure thing. Sounds good to me."
And that's what they did. They sat together in the Grandpa chair, sipping Iced Tea and reading for the rest of the afternoon. It was a great day.

The End.

OK, so it lacks a little flourish at the end, but by this time, the kid is so tired it doesn't matter. What makes the telling of this story fun, is that I change parts of it every time so it is interesting and just engaging enough that it doesn't get stale.
I change the different stores that the boy rides past each telling.
I change the drink that the Grandpa makes once every 7 days or so, but it is otherwise always Iced Tea. This is fun, because my daughter always protests -- "it's supposed to be Iced Tea, Daddy!" "Oh is it?" I coyly ask.
I always change the contents of the book. What ends up in the pictures of the Magic Book is different each time I read it. And that way I don't have to spend a lot of time discovering a new story each night. The plot is always the same, the beginning and the ending I can recite, and by the time I get there, I usually have decided what's in the Magic Book. We are at the point now, in my family, where the kids tell me what's in the Magic Book before we even start the story. They pick it out and want to hear me describe it to them.
It puts them right out, however I tell it.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grammar lesson: Bad usage

I am a stickler for grammar. I hate it when i post something online and later notice that I made some error in spelling or usage. Ugh. It pains me.
My wife taught me about the correct usage of an apostrophe and a surname when I was copywriting for our Christmas cards. Better "The Smiths", than "The Smith's".

But when other people do it... Ah, now that's a different story.
I HATE the misuse of the homonyms "there, their and they're".
I ABHOR the switch of the indefinite possessive and plurals "its and it's".
I REJECT the incorrect spelling of "your and you're".

Occasionally I find it mildly entertaining. Anytime I get an announcement email from a sales person in my company, i comb it for errors. It's the sort of thing that passes the day, and bonds a few of us "QA-types" together. There are a few of us that race to get through it first, to see who finds the most errors. Good sport, I think.

I got an email today from a co-worker who fell for the old trick of "typing it like it sounds". Here is the sentence:

We've had some challenges with the security codes recently. One of the boards is going bad and it's reeking havoc for other depts as well.
Reeking havoc! Ha! Okay, for those of you playing at home, it should have been "wreaking havoc."

Send me some of your finds, would 'ya?

Friday, December 26, 2008

no more

It's the end of an era I guess... but has gone defunct. I'm not surprised, really, seeing how I let my blog go unloved for over a year.
(directed at my family:) I'm not sure if there are any other family blogs. Let me know if you know any.