Play and win valuable prizes!

Corinne and I are playing another of our little games. (No, this one does NOT involve a Catholic school girl costume. I'm NEVER putting that thing on again.)

Here's the way this one's going to work: Corinne's going to give me random topics and I'm going to have two days to work that topic into a blog post. So today it might be nihilism. Friday it might be purple unicorns. I don't know what she's going to give me.

And, originally, I thought I'd just keep it quiet to see if I could weave these random topics into posts that make sense out of context.

But then I thought, what the hell – let's make a game out of it!

Check out the stuff I post, starting with yesterday's Mud Run post and ending when I tell you I'm done. (Except this one. Ignore this one. Well, don't IGNORE this one, because I'm trying to tell you something here. But don't waste a whole lot of time searching for a hidden topic or theme in this post.)

If you think you've figured out my assigned topic for a post, go ahead and comment on it. If you're right…um…I'll give you some kind of valuable prize [to be determined]. Could be a $5 iTunes gift card (but probably not), could be a 50 cent coupon on Hot Pockets, could be an autographed picture of Brady Borkoski dressed as Burt Reynolds. Whatever. The joy comes in winning, you greedy little monkeys.

That being said, go back and check out yesterday's post, then keep an eye on what's coming next. (To get you started – and I hope I'm not making this too obvious – yesterday's headline was a clue.)

Have fun!


What a weekend should be

I just had the kind of weekend that picks up your brutal, beat-down of a week, shakes it by its scrawny neck, and hollers "Suck it, bitch!"

It was the kind of weekend that God sends on rare occasions to some of His most weary and downtrodden little creations. The kind where the veils of stress and frustration flutter and part in a passing breeze of chance.

My weekend kicked ass.

Now, in order to truly grasp the scope of this weekend's awesomeness, you need to get your head around the profound suckfest that was "last week." Stuff was breaking, funds were dwindling, kids were crabbing, schedules were bursting…and I'm not even going to get into work (because anything honest I wrote would probably get me fired…and this blog doesn't pay ANY bills).

So Corinne and I limped into Friday evening. Fortunately, Molly and Claudia were both out of town for the early evening marching in a parade, because it gave us the last couple of hours it took to finish putting together the zebra room.

Family room by day, bedroom by 2 nights every 14.
It's a consistent challenge, fitting six kids into a three-bedroom house. It's gotten a little easier as they get older — Josie's more out than in (though her stuff still occupies what will one day be my workout room), and Erin doesn't sleep over anymore. But it's still crowded, and it leaves Molly with a family room as her bedroom.

That means we need to find ways to make it a dual-use space. It needs to be a functioning family room for 12 days…and then it needs to make Molly feel welcome and at home for two days. So we built a 5×8 foot platform at 4.5 feet high. The couch goes under that, and Molly's bed goes on top of that – on her own little mezzanine level. It came out awesome. And Corinne took Molly's request for a  "zebra-colored theme with bright-blue accents" and ran with it.

Zebra bed

Molly loved it. We actually got an, "It's more than I dreamed of" out of a 13-year-old. THAT is a statement.

So the weekend was off and running.

Claudia got to go spend the weekend at her friend's cabin, goofing around and tubing. Big, happy win there.

Josh got to sleep over at his friend's house on Saturday night. Win for him. (And Luke's parents are good about making them get some actual sleep. Win for us.)

After a few days of terror and panic induced by her new invisible-fence collar,

Please don't make me go out there!
Bijou finally got the hang of it and started discovering the joys of running around the yard without a chain. Huge, unfettered win there.


I took down some branches off the maple tree out front and managed to burn them on the same night — so they didn't add to the unsightly brush pile on Ty's side of our house. Nice little win for Ty there.

On Saturday, we managed to remove an imminent lawsuit from our backyard and replace it with a mere probable lawsuit. We tore down the 10-year-old trampoline and replaced it with a brand-new, much springier, much nettier trampoline. Very big win for all there.


I got a great little Sunday-morning ride in with my wife. (On bikes, you pervs.) And Corinne accomplished the geometric impossibility of charting a looped route that pretty much avoided wind for its entirety. Take THAT, south-easterly breeze.

Quinn got to go to the fly-in breakfast with his Grandpa Lloyd and catch pancakes from across the hanger. Good-time win for him.

Molly and Anngel got to make a trip to the mall on Sunday afternoon and waste a whole lot of time (though not a lot of money). Jasmine got to take a trip to the beauty salon and, since she's so fat and happy, didn't have to get shaved down all the way bald. Quinn, Josh, Ben, Tommy and I all got to go catch a Sunday matinee of Green Lantern. Win for us.

And while all THAT was going on, Corinne was home making serrano-infused homemade salsa, marinating chicken in a fantastic green curry sauce, and cooking up a double batch of cheesy potatoes. Gigantic-sized win and a great way to wrap up the weekend.

Not sure why Corinne photographs a lot of the food we make.

Weekends should all be like that.

(And I'm already in need of another one, because today kicked off Suck Week, Part Deux.)

I’m not buying it yet

Twins beer
Okay bandwagon jumpers, I'm not buying it yet. Liriano's no-hitter could be the spark that ignites this team. And then they follow it up with another win this afternoon? Still, I'm not buying it yet.

In fact, I'm going to have a beer tonight. (No special occasion. I just happen to like beer.) But I won't be drinking it out of a Twins pint glass.

That's right. I'm announcing right here – for all the interweb to see – that I am hereby taking my Twins pint glasses out of the freezer and putting them up on the highest shelf. I'm removing them from the starting rotation.

They shall not touch another hoppy drop until the Twins go on a winning streak. I'm not asking for much here. I'm realistic about this team's short-term prospects even if I can't get excited about two games. (Two games does NOT count as a "win streak".) Just give me a three-game win streak. One little win on Thursday at Fenway and I'll fill you back full of foamy happiness, Twins glasses.

See what kind of influence you have with the boys. Rally cap and I are about shot.

Gina, stay home

Three dogs

My good friend Gina is funny, charming, creative, and one of the most talented advertising professionals I've met in 20 years in the business.

I don't give a shit.

She needs to not travel with my wife. When the two of them leave town together, the moles of craziness start popping up all over my world and I can't beat them all down.

You know, stuff like bloody deer hides showing up on the front step.

A couple weeks ago (it's taken me this long to get the wording on this post to be sufficiently diplomatic) the two of them were heading down to Dallas to sit in on some focus group research. One day. Two nights. No big deal.

Monday. 2:00 p.m. Car leaves Creative Memories parking lot.

Monday. 2:30 p.m. School nurse calls. [unnamed child] is in the process of receiving the first of many monthly gifts.

Monday. 2:35 p.m. I call my sister in hopes that she's available to swing by after school and offer some…coaching. (Because she may or may not have very recent experience in just such…coaching. I'm not sayin' anything. But even if she doesn't, she's got to be a damn sight more qualified than me. Right?)

Monday. 3:00 p.m. I ditch work in order to get home before [unnamed child] because I'm not at all sure how much trauma is involved in this process. Do I need to be there for hugs? Ibuprofin? Emergency laundry?

Monday. 3:30 p.m. Arrive home to find [unnamed child] and her friends already home, running around the house with vanilla scented air freshener and screaming. Evidently, one of the dogs is sick. Evidently, it's the big one. Mr. Whipple, Mr. Clean and I manage to remove, dispose of, and scrub up all trace of four enormous piles of runny dog crap.

Monday. 4:00 p.m. Evict [unnamed child]'s friends and check in to see how she's doing. I suggest a phone call to my wife (who hasn't even boarded a plane to leave Minneapolis yet). To my disappointment, I notice that my sister's not going to be coming by to help with…coaching. She did stop by and leave a grocery bag filled with…paraphernalia…hanging from the front door. Lovely gesture. Very grateful. But stuff I can buy. I know how to insert a credit card.

Monday. 4:15 p.m. [unnamed child] talks on the phone with my wife and with my mother-in-law. Child opts to stay with the pad (whew) and take a shower.

Monday. 4:20 p.m. [a different unnamed child] bursts through the door in tears. The track practice we're almost-but-not-quite-forcing him to go to was too hard today. "They made us run all the way around the fenceline. And my legs just got really tired!"

Monday. 4:45 p.m. Finish reassuring [a different unnamed child] that running all the way around the fenceline is supposed to make your legs feel really tired. And the fact that he had to walk part of the way doesn't mean that's too far for him. It means he needs to do it a few more times in order to build up his muscles and endurance.

Monday. 5:00 p.m. Discover medium dog yacking all over entryway rug.

Monday. 5:15 p.m. Discover medium dog dragging litter-encrusted chunks of cat crap out to deposit all over the laundry room.

Monday. 6:15 p.m. Go outside to clean the car after a long winter.

Monday. 7:00 p.m. Return to the house to discover – based on two steaming, runny clues – that the small dog is also afflicted with some sort of intestinal malady. It's at this point that it begins to dawn on me that this could be a long night.

Monday. 11:00 p.m. Optimistically send all three dogs out for, "one last time before bed."

Monday. 11:50 p.m. Small dog needs to go out.

Tuesday. 12:40 a.m. Small dog needs to go out.

Tuesday. 1:30 a.m. Small dog needs to go out.

Tuesday. 1:55 a.m. Text wife.


Tuesday. 2:20 a.m. Big dog and small dog need to go out. Big dog doesn't want to come in.

Tuesday. 2:55 a.m. Big dog wants to come in.

Tuesday. 3:10 a.m. Small dog needs to go out. What? Oh. I guess small dog must have needed to go out a few minutes ago.

Tuesday. 3:15 a.m. Scrub carpet.

Tuesday. 4:00 a.m. Big dog and small dog need to go out.

Tuesday. 4:50 a.m. Small dog needs to go out.

Tuesday. 5:40 a.m. Small dog needs to go out. What? Oh. I guess small dog must have needed to go out a few minutes ago.

Tuesday. 5:45 a.m. Scrub carpet.

Tuesday. 6:00 a.m. Alarm goes off.

Tuesday. 6:01 a.m. Alarm reset for 6:45.

Tuesday. 6:45 a.m. Alarm goes off. (What? Over an hour? The small dog must be getting tired.)

Tuesday. 7:00 a.m. Come to the realization that I'm working from home this Tuesday. At home, no one makes fun of me when I fall asleep on my notebook.


So, with shaky hands and bleary eyes, I type this humble request: Gina, stay home.

Not sure what to make of this

I'm sort of numb right now about the Bin Laden news. I'm not sure how I thought I'd feel when this day came (I'd actually doubted it would ever come), but this sure wasn't it.

The man was the architect, the inspiration and the key driver behind so may pointless, tragic civilian deaths. (And I do make a bit of a distinction between non-combatants killed in the legitimate pursuit of a combatant objective and pure, civilian-targeted terrorism.)

I've never questioned for a second our need to pursue this man and bring him to justice. And, as details start to come out about this operation, I'm amazed, overwhelmed and totally impressed with…

  • Our President's commitment to pulling this off in spite of the Pakistanis and his ability to say, "No, we didn't say a word to them about this op we were about to pull off in the suburbs of their capital… But geez, they're still great allies and some of the stuff we worked with them on helped us get to this place." A few years ago I had my doubts about Obama and his international relations experience – and especially how he would handle counterterrorism. But, in this instance, it certainly looks like he played his hand as well as that creepy guy in the hoodie and sunglasses who's always on those poker tournaments on TV.

  • Our intelligence community. I love the patience and the ability to work a source. I love the little ironies like the fact that OBL was so paranoid he wouldn't let anything with an electron get close to him for fear of being tracked… And that's one of the things that led to us finding him. (Hmm… Huge compound. Luxurious. Eight-times bigger than anything else in the neighborhood. With no internet connection, no phone lines, and no cellular activity? Let's check this place out.)

  • Our special ops troops. Two choppers in, without hassle from Pakistani air defenses, boots on the ground, firefight, target eliminated, up and out – no U.S. casualties. As much as it pains me to compliment the Navy, "Nicely done, SEALs."

But, and here's the rub, a human being is dead, A life has been ended. None of the 3,000 have been brought back to life. We just found the guy who masterminded it and "avenged" them.

I can be satisfied with that. But not jubilant. I can't see myself stumbling around Ground Zero in a drunken stupor chanting U.S.A., because a man has been killed. If we, as Americans, feel comfortable with this behavior, my question is, Are these the same Americans who shook their heads and mumbled about barbarism when disaffected Arabs were similarly jubilant about deaths in the United States?

Let me know if you think I'm wrong, but I just can't dance about a dead man.

Maybe that's it. Maybe I'd feel more jubilant if we'd brought him in alive. I remember being much more upbeat about Hussein's capture. It was easy, as a smug American, to see the humor in him being captured, ragged, dirty, scruffy, half-naked, hiding in a hold in the ground. Yea! We got him!

Then we put him on trial and we hung him. (Oh, wait, I mean the legitimately elected Iraqi government put him on trial and hung him.) Come to think of it, the day they hung Saddam I felt just about like this.

Weird. I don't THINK I'm an anti-death-penalty guy. I never have been before. And I guess I'm not now. I'm not sad that Osama Bin Laden is dead. I just don't think it's an excuse for cracking open a 12-pack of Red, White & Blue.

Damn moral dilemmas


Nice-Guy-Neighbor Pete: Did you see what happened to your mailbox?

Me: Um…You mean the fact that it was sitting on my front porch and a large percentage of the snow that should have been piled up in a nice little heap at the corner of my driveway was, instead, scattered haphazardly across the driveway?


Nice-Guy-Neighbor Pete: Yeah, I put it up there on your porch.

Me: Thanks.

Nice-Guy-Neighbor Pete: [NAME OMITTED CUZ YOU DON'T NEED TO KNOW IT AND I DIDN'T RECOGNIZE IT ANYWAY] came flying around the corner in his pickup last night at about 50 miles an hour. He lost control and took out your mailbox. Then he got out and he could barely stand. He was hung up there for about 10 minutes – rocking back and forth till he managed to work his truck loose.

Me: We've got a Piss-Drunk-Pickup Guy neighbor?

Nice-Guy-Neighbor Pete: Brian and his friends were just pulling out of the driveway. If they'd have been 30 seconds earlier, he would have hit them.

Me: It was a nice, warm Friday evening. If we'd had the kids and been at home, there's a good chance they'd have been playing in the snow pile down there. [OKAY, HONESTLY NOT A "GOOD" CHANCE…BUT AT LEAST A CHANCE.]

Nice-Guy-Neighbor Pete: I wish I would have called the police as soon as it happened…then it would have been out of my hands. He's just such an angry drunk.

Me: We have an Angry-Piss-Drunk-Pickup Guy neighbor?


Corinne: Red pickup? That's the creepy guy who waves at me every time he drives by.

Me: We have a Creepy-Waving-Angry-Piss-Drunk-Pickup Guy neighbor?

Corinne: I looked it up on our neighborhood watch list. He's two doors down from Francis.

Me: You mean Nosy-Busybody Guy neighbor?

Corinne: Yeah. So you think we should say something?

Me: Wait a minute… Two doors down from Nosy-Busybody Guy neighbor? On the same side of the street? Red pickup?

Corinne: Yeah.

Me: So the house with the Bobcat in the driveway?

Corinne: Yeah.

Me: Shit. Creepy-Waving-Angry-Piss-Drunk-Pickup Guy neighbor is Bobcat Guy? Crap.


Bobcat Guy has been my Whiteout Knight all winter long. He and his snow-throwing steed have bailed me and my sad little shovel out a dozen times. It's friggin' fantastic. I'll be down there at the end of the driveway, gamely denting the plow break bit by bit…and he'll come rolling down the street. He and that Bobcat can clear a plow break in 20 seconds. He can do the whole driveway in two minutes. It's straight-up awesome. He's been my hero.

Now that I know Bobcat Guy is Creepy-Waving-Angry-Piss-Drunk-Pickup Guy, I really don't care about paying for the mailbox. I owe him at least that much in snow removal.

But I've got to at least call him and let him know that we know what happened and it's not okay and we're going to be watching in the future. There are just too many kids in this neighborhood. (Lots of kids. Kids like Freakishly-Large Boy, Not-So-Bright Girl and the Redneck Sisters.)


Don’t shoot – I’m not THAT horny


"Greg, why did you jump off the roof with an umbrella?"

"Um…I wanted to see what it'd be like."

"Dude, you put a pound of hamburger in with a full box of mac & cheese and then ate the whole thing? Why?"

"Um…I wanted to see what it'd be like."

It snowed this weekend. But mountain biking over lunch still sounded like a good idea.

And it was…for the most part.

The trail was wet and muddy, but clear of snow. In fact, that part was really fun because roots and logs were still frozen and really slick. It made for some nice little east/west detours along my north/south adventure.

I certainly didn't get cold. I had on two layers top and bottom and I was wearing the hat I still haven't returned to Eric. Plenty warm. So everything was great. I was alone with my thoughts. And they went a l'il sumthin' like dis:

Ha! No other tire tracks on the trail today. Nobody else is hardcore enough to be out here on the trail in the middle of November. They're all hunkered down inside, where it's warm.

They'll probably call me crazy when they see me, but secretly they'll be hating themselves for the weak, cowardly lowerdowns that they are. I really shouldn't feel so superior. I should just carry about my business in quiet humility. I think my superiority will just be self evident.

Nope. No tracks on the trail at all today.

Except those deer tracks.

Deer tracks.

Deer tracks? Something about that should be registering in my brain.

Where did Corinne and Josh go yesterday?…

Photo Photo[1]











Hey, it's deer hunting season!

Hmm… That's potentially troublesome.

But I'm in town. This is in city limits, isn't it? Can't discharge (tee hee) a firearm within city limits, right? Or is this in city limits? Actually I don't think it is.

Damn. But I'm right next to the city compost site. There's a whole bunch of city workers right over there…in flourescent yellow reflective vests.

Damn. But nobody would really be hunting in here. There are no deer out here.

Deer 1a

Damn. Damn. Damn! Okay. Time to get out of here. Gotta look as undeerlike as possible…

Damn you, God! Why did you bless me with such preternatural style and grace?!

Damn you, Italy! I'm wearing my House of Pizza jersey. Why are the colors of your flag green, white and red instead of green, white and blaze orange?!

Damn you, Brandon Testa! Why the hell do you own a (truly fantastic) pizza restaurant instead of an Irish pub? Those Irishmen have the green, white and blaze orange thing going just fine! Or, better yet, why don't you own some kind of Dutch restaurant? (Oh man, I love me some Dutch food.)

You know, every hunting season you hear about SO MANY idiotic accidental shootings. If you're shooting at something that turns out not to be a deer, you obviously don't have that great a sight line and hitting it must take a really great shot. So why is it that all utter morons are excellent marksmen?

Don't shoot, morons! No rack on this guy.

[Worth noting: At no point in this ride did the idea of cutting out, getting off the trail and leaving without finishing the whole loop ever even register in my mind.]