Saturday, February 28, 2009

How To Article of the Week

This week: How to Give the Marshmallow Test

Supposedly, your kid will be smarter if they can keep from eating a marshmallow for a little while. This is a test regarding instant and delayed gratification.

I'm pretty sure I would fail this one, but that's just my stomach talking.

Friday, February 27, 2009


I tried. I really did. I gave it a shot, and I just couldn't do it.

Twitter. Some people really love it, and that's great, but I can't see the fun in having to limit myself to 140 characters. I'm long winded like that.

It's also a little weird for me to have an IM conversation with pretty much everyone that is watching my updates.

I should probably give it another chance, but I'm fine without it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Favorite 80s song just got better

As you may already know, I was addicted to "Take On Me" by Aha back in the 80s. I listened to that tape (and my own version of it) over and over and over and over and over ...

You've probably already seen this, but I couldn't help posting it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Bad Genes

In general, I don't think I'm a sickly person, but since marrying my wife, I've realized I have a bunch of problems she doesn't have. I guess I never realized that not everyone deals with some of this stuff. I'm not a hypochondriac, so I have to chalk it up to my faulty genetic material. This is not a pity party. I just thought I should record all my physical problems for posterity so they'll know who to blame.

Here's the short list:

1. Hypoglycemia

The way I describe this to people is that my pancreas is stupid. It's the part of the body that produces insulin, and mine likes to sleep on the job. When a normal person eats a piece of chocolate cake, their body starts producing insulin to balance. Mine just sits there, like a 30-year-old deadbeat who won't get a job and still lives in his mom's basement. My sugar level just keeps climbing and when my body finally starts to absorb it and get rid of it, my pancreas finally gets off the couch and in a panic starts cranking out insulin. At that point, my already lowering sugar level plummets, and I have to grab a candy bar or something sugary to compensate. Thankfully, mine is the mild variety, so I don't pass out or anything.

2. Pectus Excavatum

Probably in response to my under-performing pancreas, my ribcage decided to be a big overachiever and grew too much too fast. They buckled in and started pushing on my lungs, which is never a good feeling. The doctor said my case was one of the more severe cases he's seen, and I had to have surgery for them to hack out a bunch of bone and rewire my chest together. While they fixed the problem, my ribs now look like they've been trampled by a herd of elephants. Needless to say, I look gnarly in a swimsuit.

3. Pleurisy

Oddly enough, this one is a direct result of number 3. A few years ago, I started getting this sharp pain on the right side of my chest. It literally felt like someone was stabbing me with a rusty knife every time I sneezed, coughed, burped, or yawned. After a few days, it would fade away, and I would get on with my life. It started to worry me, so I went back to the doctor that did my chest surgery (who's practice is now run by his son), and he scheduled me for an MRI and other tests. When all was said and done, I had no answers, other than the knowledge that none of the wires had loosened, meaning they weren't the ones stabbing me. Months later, in a conversation with my sister, she mentioned I probably have pleurisy. Sure enough. That's what I have. It's caused by lung infections, other diseases (such as lupus) or chest injuries. Evidently, my pectus excavatum still keeps on giving because now I get to deal with pleurisy about every other month or so.

4. IBS (or the more embarrassing term, Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Doesn't that name sound awful? It is entirely too descriptive and conjures way too many graphic images for me. Now, to be fair, I haven't actually had this diagnosed. However, half my family has it, and I match the symptoms perfectly. I'm not going to elaborate on this one, but it's not pleasant and there's no current treatment. The one thing I will say is that my daughter has started associating the bathroom with "Daddy" (which (when pointing at the closed bathroom door) is what she says).

(I bet this was a major "over share" moment for those who know me.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Failed Entrepreneur

I learned early in life that I should never be an entrepreneur. Some people are born with the gift and the drive to make a fledgling business succeed. I'm not one of them.

When I was 8 or 9 years old, my parents had me in piano lessons. My friend and I were playing one day, and somehow we got on the topic of my piano teacher. She learned that my parents paid this lady $20 a week for an hour lesson. That's when I had my most BRILLIANT IDEA EVER. We decided that I would go to my lessons and the next day, I would sit down with my friend and teach her what I just learned. In return, she would pay me a nickel for each lesson. What a bargain! I don't even have the math skills to calculate how big a savings that is (Actually, I probably do, but it makes my brain hurt ... because I'd rather be hung from my fingernails than do math).

How could this plan fail?

Looking back, I'm sure there is some obscure reason this should be illegal or something.

In the end, I don't know what I was thinking.

We made it through two lessons.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Embarrassing Confession

Growing up, my best friend was a girl. I only say that because it may add a little context to this confession.

My favorite game in elementary school was Chinese Jump Rope. Back then, the biggest challenge in life was getting two friends to stand still with the elastic around their ankles long enough for me to have my turn. Do you think anyone still plays this?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Better late than never

My wife is way better than I am. I've come to grips with this, but she keeps telling me it's not true (that's just because she's still in denial).

For Valentine's Day, she did all kinds of cool stuff. I won't go into all the details, but let's just say one of the many things she did involved removing the original fortunes from a bunch of fortune cookies and inserting her own messages about why she loves me.

I'm a jerk, because when last Saturday rolled around, I woke up with nothing for her. I have a good excuse (well ... a semi-good excuse). Earlier that week when I was going to finalize everything, I got sick and was flat in bed for two days.

Long story short, I finally got everything together and gave her my gift yesterday morning.

Since she is a stay at home mom, I figure the best thing I can give her right now is time to be by herself. As a result, I tried (somewhat in vain) to make our bathroom look like a spa. I had a bunch of candles, fresh fruit, ice water, soft music, her robe, etc. all laid out for her and set her up with a bubble bath, while I played at being a defensive lineman and distracted our daughter. It went over okay, and I thought I would include a couple pictures, just so you know it actually happened.

Enjoy our shoebox of a bathroom:

Here are a few in the harsh light of day, since the others are a little blurry without the flash:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sweet Ride in High School

One of the biggest status symbols a guy can have in high school is the car he drives. As a result, people draw all kinds of conclusions and assumptions about them.

Since I wasn't popular or anything, I didn't really care what I drove ... until one fateful day.

But first, here are a few of the highlights about the first set of wheels I got behind:
  1. It was my mom's
  2. It was a minivan
  3. It was white
  4. It maneuvered like a geriatric with a walker
  5. It had a vanity plate ... MAMA DUK (translation: Mama Duck)

Yeah, I know this isn't a white one, but I couldn't find the right picture.

So, I'm cruising along in my sissy van, not thinking anything of it, when I get stopped at a crosswalk while two girls cross the street. As they walk in front of the van, the one closest to me glances over at me and does a double take to read the license plate. Immediately, she turns to her friend while pointing at the front of the van. I don't have to wait too long before the other one leans over to look past her friend at my face (which is getting redder by the second). Both start laughing as they continue crossing the street.

Yeah, I was embarrassed, but I got over it. I kept thinking that at least I wasn't trying to get everywhere on a bike. I even drove the van to prom. While everyone was shelling out hundreds of dollars to rent a Hummer stretch limo, my friends and I decided to go as cheap as we could on principle. We even nicknamed it "Econo Prom."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Office Comebacks

My friend (and coworker) has a birthday this weekend, so I decided to give her an "Office Sanity Kit." I included ear plugs (because she is always distracted by the noises in the office), hand sanitizer (because she's a germiphobe), a "Do Not Disturb" sign (because she's stressed and needs to concentrate), a microwaveable heating pad (because she's always cold even though it's an oven in our office), and some comeback cards (to give out to anyone she finds annoying).

My favorite were the comeback cards. I found these phrases online and printed each one on it's own little piece of card stock:

  • I don’t know what your problem is, but I’ll bet it’s hard to pronounce.
  • How about never? Is never good for you?
  • I see you’ve set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
  • I’m really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.
  • I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being smarter.
  • I’m out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
  • It sounds like English, but I can’t understand a word you’re saying.
  • I can see your point, but I still think you’re full of it.
  • I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
  • You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • What am I? Flypaper for freaks?!?
  • You sound reasonable. Time to up the medication.
  • And your crybaby, whiney-butt opinion would be?
  • Do I look like a people person?
  • This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with fluorescent lighting.
  • You! Off my planet!
  • Does your train of thought have a caboose?
  • Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
  • Well, your day is a total waste of makeup.
  • I’m trying to imagine you with a personality.
  • A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
  • Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
  • Nice cologne. Must you marinate in it?
  • How do I set a laser printer on “stun?”
  • If I throw a stick, will you leave?
  • I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
  • Does everyone visualize duct tape over your mouth, or is it just me?
  • I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you being competent.
  • Someday, we'll look back on this, laugh nervously, and change the subject.
  • Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?
  • Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...

Happy birthday, "Gladys!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The streak is over ...

So, I'm pretty proud of myself. Since I started this thing back in October, I've managed to post at least once a day.

Well, over the weekend, I forgot to post a couple of days. Then the work week started, and I've looked up from my desk, surprised it's already Wednesday.

In an odd way, it's liberating to finally fail.

What does this mean for my 1.5 readers? My goal is still to post once a day, but if I slip up, at least it will no longer be the first time.

Yea for lowering standards!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

How To Article of the Week

This week: How to Be a Nonconformist

In case you're wondering. I was technically a nonconformist in high school. While everyone else was drinking, partying and doing drugs, I watched movies and made chocolate chip cookies.

Yeah, I know it was probably more boring, but I still have all my brain cells ...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Sickness and Eye Phobias

So, I have two random thoughts.

First, I'm so glad for blogger letting me schedule stuff in advance. I've been sick for the last couple of days, and no one ever had to know about it ... until I spilled the beans on here, that is.

Second, I saw the video below on Wonder Woman's blog, and I nearly died laughing.

This is not only me, but it's pretty much my entire family. Watching me try to give myself eye drops is comedy at its finest.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Goodie Two Shoes

Last week, a friend of ours turned 40. My wife found a great idea online, and we thought it was perfect for him. Normally, puns and I don't get along, but I thought this was pretty funny.

If my mom happens to read this, I'm sure she'll want to wash my mouth out with soap.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"I'm not your friend anymore!"

When I was little, the girl next door was my best friend. We still keep in touch, and I will always have good memories of growing up with her. She's the one who conned me into making a fool out myself in front of the entire neighborhood.

However, it wasn't all fluffy clouds and sunshine. Both of us had very STRONG personalities. I don't think a day went by in elementary school that we didn't fight, stomp away from each other and swear we would never be friends again.

One of these times, yelling at her and slamming the door wasn't enough. I knew I had to do something to rub a little salt in the wound. My devious 6-year-old mind worked overtime, and I finally came up with the perfect plan. I'd fool her into thinking I was offering an apology.

I'm sure that the entire time I was plotting, I cackled like the Wicked Witch of the West.

First I got a shoe box and filled it with dirt. I tried to find a bunch of earthworms to put in it as well, but those are hard to find in the desert. Then, I found some nice wrapping paper and wrapped up the box. For the final touch, I wrote a note telling her how sorry I was and asked her to accept the present as a token of my sincerity. I ding dong ditched her and ran back home to gloat in my room with my stuffed animals and Lego sets.

About two hours later, the doorbell rang. On the doormat I found a letter addressed to me. Flipping it over, I noticed the envelope was sealed with chewed bubble gum. Inside, my friend had stuffed a bunch of weeds along with a sarcastic note about how sorry she was.

Another two hours later found us both bored out of our minds and trying to figure out how to talk to the each other and forget the whole incident.

I think one of the only reasons we made it through all that with our friendship intact is because we were pretty much the only ones our age in the neighborhood.

We were such good friends, that I knew her birthday before I knew anyone’s birthday in my family. It was years before I realized her birthday was also the same day as my parent’s anniversary.
(End Tangent)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"You have something in your teeth ..."

In college, they offered these dance classes to fulfill our "get off the couch and be healthy" credits. For girls, registering for these classes is like that huge wedding dress sale dubbed "The Running of the Brides." It's always a competition and almost immediately all the slots are filled.

I have this friend, Rachel. She's probably the funnest (and funniest) person alive, and we became friends my freshman year. She and I decided to take one of the classes.

One day, we ate lunch and then headed to class. After starting as her partner, we rotated around the entire class period, dancing with most of the other class members.

Since uncomfortable silence turns me into the world's biggest chatterbox, I spent the entire period yapping without pausing for a breath. At the end of class, I met back up with Rachel to walk to our next class.

When she saw me, she said, "Nathan, you have something in your teeth."

Sure enough, there was a piece of lettuce the size of North Dakota front and center. All I could think about was how many girls couldn't hear a word I was saying because they were too distracted by the forest growing in my mouth.

Monday, February 9, 2009

No Sense of Smell

As you can see, I'm still obsessed with smells today.

I know this guy who doesn't have a sense of smell. I don't know if he was born that way or if it developed over time, but his nose has taken a permanent vacation. The cool part is that his sense of taste has moved in to compensate. Usually, people can only taste the basics: sweet, bitter, etc. Our noses are what give us broader and deeper tastes when we eat.

This kid's mouth has stepped in and has managed to duplicate what the nose should be doing.

So, what is the huge downside to this?

Just think of what happens when someone farts. You guessed it. While the rest of us just plug our noses, he walks around with a pretty nasty taste in his mouth.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Breaking Our House In

Until your child has spontaneously vomited on your couch, your carpet and your bed, you haven't really broken your house in.

Spit up is VASTLY different than vomit. It's not even in the same galaxy. We've now been vomit-free for 24 hours, and I still smell it wherever I go.

So, if YOUR house hasn't been broken in yet, just let me know. I'll bring our daughter over the next time she's sick, and she'll be happy to do it. Our fees are reasonable, and we'll even let you clean it up.

I can't wait for that phone to ring ...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How To Article of the Week

This week: How to Make Cake in a Mug

I'm a sucker for anything chocolate, but when I saw this, I wondered what they were thinking. Then I read it and now I want to try it out.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sucker for Music

As you already know, I'm a sucker for good music. There are a couple I heard recently that I can't seem to stop listening to.

This one has kind of a creepy video, but I am fascinated by how she describes Trouble. She personifies it in an interesting way and essentially says Trouble is dependable and will never leave you. Yeah, I guess it's depressing, but also comforting in an odd way (for me at least).

This second one I saw on word to your mother. I don't want to be all cheesy, but songs like this remind me how amazing my wife is. I definitely scored when I got her to say yes, and I married many steps up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I used to think I was a pretty diverse person ... a modern Renaissance man if you will. I took a variety of classes in college, I listen to all kinds of music, and I even know how to replace a GFCI outlet (I know. Aren't you impressed? If you want, you can name your kids after me.)

But I've realized I'm in a rut. The Grand Canyon of ruts. Except no one will come visit me and take pretty pictures.

All I do is work, eat, sleep, and occasionally shovel all the stupid snow we get all winter (in the summer, this changes to "mow all the stupid grass we have growing all summer").

So, now I'm going out on a limb. I've never asked a question of the 1.658 readers I have (one of which is my wife), but I feel compelled to ask one for my own sanity.

What new activity should I try?

My wife and I are always interested in trying new things at least once. Any good ideas?

Just remember I'm poor, so don't suggest "Swim with the dolphins in Tahiti."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Speech Impediments

As the youngest of nine kids, I've been an uncle since I was 6 years old. As a result, I've watched a bunch of my nephews and nieces grow up before I ever started my own family (39 and counting). Here is one lesson I learned from the whole process:

My daughter will inevitably have a speech impediment. Almost without exception, all of my nieces and nephews have had some form of impediment. Sometimes it was a lisp, but usually it was switching consonants in the front of the mouth for consonants in the back (and vice versa). They all grew out of it, but here are some of the phrases I remember. The translations are below, but see if you can guess what they are:

  1. Gundle Buit
  2. "My yegs!"
  3. Dreen thip thops
  4. Yets doe!
  5. Tarter Sauce

Below are the translations ...

Here's what they actually mean:

  1. Jungle Book
  2. "My Legs!"
  3. Green flip flops
  4. Let's go!
  5. Carter Sauce (My brother thought it would be funny to get his son to add "sauce" to the end of his name)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ice Skating

Over the weekend, we took our daughter ice skating with a friend from work. My own privacy paranoia prevents me from posting her picture (which is also why I don't use her name), but here's a shot of her skates.

They were still two sizes too big, but I don't think I've ever seen anything so cute as little baby skates. Yeah, I know. I don't have any man cards left after my confession that I don't like sports and that I secretly enjoy watching Barbie movies, but I can't help it.

So, since I don't have any man cards left, feel free to hit me up for a piece of gum or a paper clip. I have plenty of those at my desk.

Final thought: In my own defense, I think trublubyu said it best when she commented on one of my previous posts: "Real men watch Barbie movies with their daughters."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where is my ice scraper?

If this ever happened to me, I think I'd have to move.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Slow Learner

I've never claimed to be quick on the uptake. Sometimes it just takes me an extra minute to process things before I can come to a conclusion (especially in elementary school when I had to figure out that crazy thing called multiplication).

Compound this with the fact that I tend to repeat my mistakes and you have the recipe for an interesting life.

My earliest example of this is when I was 2 or 3 years old. For some odd reason I had this morbid fascination with the electric burners on the top of our stove. I loved watching them get all orange and glowy. (I think I just made up a new word.)

Now, I don't have very clear memories of this, but evidently, I thought the only thing cooler than looking at them was to touch them. No less than three times, I stuck BOTH hands on the burners. I guess the days afterward spent with my hands wrapped in washcloths stuffed in bags of ice didn't teach me anything the first two times. Thankfully after the third, I wised up and stopped.

The upside? With all that fingertip charring, I might not have any fingerprints left, so crime spree here I come!

(Just kidding. I don't have the guts ... and it's wrong.)