Say Cheese, Sasquatch

You remember those days when your kids were babies or toddlers, and you felt like you were packing for trip to Fiji just to head to the grocery store?  After you had carried all the assorted bags, extra clothes, camcorder, toys to the car and gotten Jr. safely tucked in the car seat, you still had to make three more trips back to the house for things you had forgotten (keys, purse, your brain).  Glad those days are long behind you?  Yeah?  Don’t rub it in. 

As we headed out for church yesterday morning, I realized that my family has never quite let go of the toddler stage.  Each of us was weighed down with enough stuff to open our own Walmart and still make a killing on Ebay with the leftovers. We tend to pack for every outing as if we might not be back home until Paula Abdul says something that makes sense.   I’m afraid we may have an undiagnosed doomsday complex, because we seem to pack for all the “just in cases” of life. 

Uber and H-T never go in the car without their Nintendo DS, their game pack, their car charger AND standard charger.  If they happen to be in the car, at a crucial point in their game, and the little red “low power” light comes on?  No problem.  If they are at a friend’s house, and are deep in a Wi-Fi battle when the warning signal lights blinks?  Not an issue.  I haven’t yet warned them of those few places on earth, usually over 200 feet away from buildings and automobiles, that are not wired for any type of charger.  They have enough to worry about with global warming and the future of social security.  Why send them into panic mode? 

I usually have about four armfuls of stuff when I head out into the great unknown.  But experience has shown me that they are all absolute necessities. 

  • Cell phone, car charger, standard charger (duh – did you think the boys came up with their obsessions obigfootn their own??)
  • Camera – – because if I really see Bigfoot, I don’t want no grainy, half-ass cell phone pic – – I want a CNN-worthy ,$25,000 close-up. 
  • Two coats, a change of clothes, a blanket, gatorade and some beef jerky – – hey, I’ve watched Oprah…if you get stranded in a snowstorm in your car, this will keep you alive (as long as I remember my cell phone charger)
  • A book – – I’ve been stuck in many waiting rooms with magazines old enough to feature Jennifer Aniston’s haircut on Friends as “the next big thing”
  • Plastic grocery bags – – this trend started after an unfortunate car trip following a delicious dinner of undercooked shrimp and blueberry pie. My upholstery used to be tan.  It’s a lovely pukeish-blue-taupe now.
  • Pillows – – ok, so I’m old.  Riding in the car makes my back hurt.  Plus, they will come in handy in the snowstorm.
  • Water bottle – – again, I’m old.  2 quarts a day is supposed to help keep the wrinkles away. 
  • Portable DVD player and my Gilmore Girls DVDs- – if traffic comes to a standstill, I know that Lorelei, Rory, Richard, and Emily will talk me through it
  • Makeup bag – – because you never know when you might need a quick touch-up… like say…when CNN gets wind of my Bigfoot biopic…

Now R-T is not a “watch the sky for falling airplanes” type of man, so he generally makes it to the car with just himself and his dignity.  We’ve warned him numerous times to grab an extra pair of boots, maybe a weather radio, or even a set of jumper cables.  He’ll be sorry he didn’t listen.  When we get trapped in that snowstorm, and the boys and I run down the car battery with our various chargers, who do you think it is that’s gonna have to tromp through the snow in his tennis shoes to find Bigfoot and see if he is willing to give us a jump??

Can You Imagine What Scrabble Does To Us??

Hubby and I have discovered a secret passion.  After sixteen years of marriage, it is important to flame the fires that keep things interesting and exciting.  I wanted to take ballroom dancing lessons, but he puts dancing right up there with getting an enema as activities to generally avoid.  I’ve also suggested reading aloud to each other, but at our age, lying in bed at night reading tends to elicit more drool than desire.  Hubby has had some suggestions for spicing things up along the way, as well.  And after my hernias from laughter healed, he gave up on most of them. 

But then one day, just as a chance happenstance, we stumbled across something that caused our breath to quicken and our heart to race in unison.  The object of our simultaneous arousal?  TextTwist – – that torrid computer game of twisted letters and jumbled words. Just the name brings a grin of furtive delight to my face.  Very few things in our married life have brought us the singular satisfaction of watching our high scores go higher as we twist and turn those letters into submission. 

From the first time we discovered the game, we were instantly hooked.  We found ourselves sneaking off into the bedroom at various times in the day just to huddle around the dim glow of the laptop and unscramble to our hearts compcupid content.  I am always the typist in our gaming romps, because my fingers fly at the speed of light.  But that doesn’t at all diminish R-T’s role in the gameplay.  It takes teamwork to call out each of the words intertwined within those mismatched letters.  And after each round we look at one another lovingly and offer words of shared joy or frustration at our successes and failures.  

Who knows why the simple seduction of letter twisting has had such a profound effect on our marriage?  Maybe it is the unexpected look that R-T gets in his eye when he sees that we are both reaching for the laptop at the same time.  Perhaps it is the way I bite my lip when we have almost beaten our high score.  It could even be that tingly feeling we both get when the victory sound effects start playing after a hard-fought win.  Whatever it is, I hope it continues for many years to come.  Oh, sorry everyone.  Gotta go.  (Giggle)  “R-T, stop swinging that mouse.  You are such a tease!”

That Telltale Squeak

Our mail delivery truck has a brake squeak.  Sort of a drawn out whine with just a touch of nail-on-chalkboard action.  We live on a fairly busy city street, so you would think that such an innocuous sound wouldn’t cause much stir.  And on most days, it doesn’t.  The dogs will usually protest the invasion of their 0.8 acre domain, but other than that, we hardly look up from our screen when we hear the squeaky signal.

But then, there are other days….like today…when that high-pitched squawk signals far more to Uber and H-T than doggie disgruntlement.  It signals the possibility of a Gamefly arrival.  Gamefly, for those of you who are blessedly unaware, is an online video game delivery service that sends out games of the renters choice via mail.  Whey have played the game till their thumbs are dislocated, they stuff it back in the original mailer and send it off to the magical game distribution center while they wait with bated breath till their next online choice arrives.

During that agonizing 3-4 day wait, the boys must pacify themselves with the 746 “old” games they already have.  This rarely helps, however.  Each day becomes an eternity-long lesson in patience…and motherly torture.

“Guess what came in the mail today?” I will ask with a sweet smile as I walk in the door.  As they jump from their chairs so fast their mouse keeps spinning, I will gleefully hold up the cover of my latest issue of Birds and Blooms.  “Have you ever seen a chartreuse green hummingbird before?!  Magnificent, isn’t it?”  

On day #2 of Gamefly watch, I tend to spice things up a bit.  Ruffling through the stack of mail fresh from the box, I will put on my game face.  “Darn it!  It happened again.  They confused our mail with the Stevenson’s again.  Don’t worry though, I’m sure the Stevenson boys will bring your games back when they finish with them.”  Seeing their horror at the thought of the two grammar school terrors down the street playing with their precious cargo, I will usually come clean. “Oh, my mistake.  That actually is my BBC Catalog.  Never mind.” 

mailbox Day three is a long one.  They start watching the dogs for twitching twenty minutes before the mail is due.  I’ve been known to open the rusty pantry door slowly just to get their hearts racing.  Poor things.  They have banned me from actually retrieving the mail myself on day three, so I have to get my jollies somehow, you know.  Today was no exception.  Super Smash Bros. Brawl was on its way, and you could get a shock just from standing too close to the static excitement emanating  from the boys’ direction. 

Finally, the time had arrived.  I don’t know who heard it first – – the dogs or the boys – – but there was no denying that familiar scratching of brake against worn-out pad.  The boys were out the door and down the sidewalk before I could even remind them to put their shoes on.  I’m not sure just what our mail carrier must think of us.  Two geeky kids running outside in 40 degree weather in bare feet?  I’m hoping she has better things to worry about.  Like getting those brakes fixed, for one.  But I hope she doesn’t hurry about it.  

My Spring Break To-Do List

It’s spring break for the Techies!!!  Two weeks of glorious, guilt-free techiness with little or no interruptions.  What shall I do?  What shall I do?  I know, I’ll be extra geeky and make a list……

  1.  Finish my computer recipe file.  You know those cute little boxes of recipes that get handed down from generation to generation?  Those are SO passe.  Now, you spend 800 hours typing your faves into your computer, filing them by category, cuisine, and ingredients.  Then you spend 400 more hours taking pictures of each of the recipes as you prepare them, then scanning them into the program for visual effect.  No more going to the little box and ruffling through it to find your needed recipe.  Nope, they are now right at the tip of your laptop…after you spend 5 minutes booting it up, then loading the program, then typing in the search terms.  Talk about a time saver! 
  2. Work on my digital scrapbook.  I “invested” in one of those digital scrapbook programs that lets you do all sorts of creative things with your pictures and memories.  I think I thought that if the project involved my mouse and flashing screen, it would be more motivating than big books of colored construction paper and various curvy cut scissors.  I may have been mistaken. It seems that pictures of us huddled over laptops at various seasons and holidays just doesn’t do much for the creative juices.  Maybe next year we could turn off our virtual fireworks display on the 4th, and go outside and see what’s happening in the sky?  Who knows?  There could be an inspiring Kodak moment there.
  3. Work on reunion emailsThis year is the dreaded 2-0.  Yep, you heard me.  20 years. I was graduating high school long before Hannah Montana was a zygote in the Disney incubator.  Before Michael Jackson had gone “Bad” and before Bono was a Nobel nominee.  So 20 years later, it is reunion time, and that means figuring out where all those crazy kids in the parachute pants ended up.  Hopefully, they all signed up at Classmates.com.  Otherwise, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
  4. 3D Landscape my flower gardenNothing says spring like digitally designing your petunia layout with your new gardening software.  Where else can you read about common pests, research new garden tools, read profiles of each of your perennials, and watch animated videos of your dream garden – – all in the same place!  This program has everything a green thumb could want: a garden care calendar, the ability to “see” your garden from every angle and in every season, and even a botanical game.  Wait, a botanical game?  I didn’t know that was in here.  How cool!  Name seven perennials native to the Southwest?  Oh, I can SO beat this level………….

Maybe I was getting a little too ambitious there. I mean there will always be summer break, right?  After all, most people spend spring break doing shots off people’s belly buttons, right?  So perhaps I was overshooting a bit.  Spring break is for fun, for frolicking, for becoming a Level 3 Master Gardener….Two main functions of leaves?  Are they kidding me?  I am going to OWN this game…

p.s.  While I earn my medal in microflora, I would sure love to hear from all of you…what are your plans for spring break?

Can A Seeing Eye Dog Be Very Far Off ?

The men in my house are all the sensitive type.  In the movies, the empathetic man always gets the girl. In books, the female protagonist is always drawn to the strong, sensitive hunk with the sideways grin.  In reality, especially in a small two-bedroom house, sensitivity is not necessarily a plus.

H-T can actually feel his hair getting cut.  Seriously.  If Supernanny had been around when he was 3 or 4 years old, I SO would have bought her a plane ticket across the pond so she could witness the monthly ritual I now fondly call “The Hair Exorcism.”  Writhing spitting, flailing, and heads turning 360 degrees were par for the course at each trim.  When H-T finally got enough verbal acumen, he was able to explain that all those antics were due to the fact that getting his hair cut physically hurt. image For 3 or 4 more years, I calmly explained in scientific terms even Steve Hawking would approve of that it is virtually impossible for the brain to feel pain in something that doesn’t even have nerve endings.  When H-T got even more verbal acumen, he asked me to test him.  I would stand behind him with the scissors, and he would raise his hand anytime he felt me actually splice through a follicle.  I’m here to declare to Stephen Hawking and the rest of the scientific world at large that some people have nerve endings in their hair.  The kid was right every single time. Thank God for Cartoon Network.  I finally learned to hold my snips until Ed, Edd, and Eddy had done something so side-splittingly-funny that H-T hardly noticed the surgery I was performing sans anesthesia.

R-T can only watch television in the dark.  In the pitch black dark.  Otherwise, the ultraviolet lights from lamps, other appliances, and god-forbid that ball in the sky, cast reflections on the screen, and obstruct his view.  When we were dating, I thought he was just trying to get fresh every time he reached across me to pull the lamp cord.  I was flattered.  Now?  I’ve become like those fish in caves that go blind because they aren’t exposed to enough natural light.  I’m having to get my glasses prescription changed twice a month.  I figure I’ve got about two good years of eyesight left. 

The most tragic example of the sensitivity in this household has cropped up in the last couple of weeks.  It has affected our family closeness, and mealtime togetherness is now a thing of the past.  Uber has suddenly developed the ability to hear us chew our food.  We’ve tried to stop.  Honest we have.  But you can only do the Heimlich on each other so many times before you realize that pork chops don’t pass through the esophagus without some previous breakdown.  So back to chewing we went.  Uber, completely mortified and nauseated by our primitive ways, has taken to eating far from the sounds of our caveman feasting.

I understand a woman’s yearning for a sensitive soul to share life with.  Fabio makes for a beautiful cover boy. And who can resist Peter Parker in all his superhero angst. But I gotta be honest, folks. There are times when Larry the Cable Guy starts looking awfully good in those wife-beaters.  Whatcha wanna bet that when he reaches across his woman, he’s not thinking about getting a better view of Anderson Cooper 360?

A Dixie Deflowering

I grew up as a fundamentalist, Baptist girl in the South. That tells volumes about me, actually.  It is why I absolutely will not do yard work on Sundays, for fear the neighbors will raise their eyebrows at my blatant dismissal of the “Sabbath.”It is why I wear a baseball cap and shades when I head to the store and “cooking sherry” happens to be on my shopping list.  And it is why I always cross my legs when I’m wearing a dress – – even if I’m standing up.  (Yes, I always look like a have to pee, but that’s the price you pay to be a modest Baptist belle.)

There are certain things that are so ingrained in me that time, maturity, and even a change of religious denomination seem to have little sway over.  One of the most deep-rooted dixie-chick mantras is that you never ask for help.  Ever.  Good southern gals will get that jar lid open if they have to scald it, beat it with spoons, put butter on it, or say 12 ‘Hail-Mary’s’ over it (or in a Baptist’s case, 12 ‘Jimmy Carter’s’).  But we will get it open.  By ourselves.

This character trait becomes a teensy-weensy more troublesome, however, when you are a techie. Poor R-T has had to spend many a lonely night whilst his steadfast Topsy burned the midnight oil trying to troubleshoot a particular computer snafu. Beds have gone unmade, laundry unwashed, and children unfed when a digital camera dilemma has me befuddled.  Whether it is a new program that won’t install correctly, an error message that doesn’t make sense, or a cell phone contact list that has mysteriously disappeared, I simply cannot rest until I have it figured out.  And R-T and the kids know better than to even mention contacting technical support.  Small animals nearby have mutated from the radioactive rage that has been emitted after such previous suggestions.

So far, however, this cute little quirk of mine has done no real lasting damage to anyone but myself…until this last week.  You see, the bookstore I work for part-time had decided to upgrade the computer software that tracks the store inventory and runs the registers.  When the CD and 10,000 page manual for the new program arrived in the mail, I didn’t even blink.  “You think you can handle this?” my boss asked worriedly.  I scoffed.  “It’s just an upgrade,” I replied, eyes rolling.  “How difficult can it be?”

(Your smiling right now, aren’t you?  All of you!  You know where this story is leading, and you are taking pleasure in my imminent come-uppance! Well then, good southern Baptist upbringing that I had, I won’t say what I am thinking right now…….wait a minute.  I’m all grown up now.  I’m a liberal-minded, evolved, feminist Episcopalian woman now.  So I’m going to tell you to stuff it up your hard drive!!)

Anyway…yes.  I single-handedly, all by myself, independently took down an entire for-profit business for two profit-free days.  Without help.  Impressive, huh?  And I was only about three more days from fixing it, too, when my boss rudely suggested (waving my paycheck over the shredder) that I call technical support. 

So, under coercion, I yielded. Some nerd named Rahid came on board, hijacked my store’s computer system viascarlett cries some evil, big-brother style intervention called “remote access,” and had us up and running in about 30 minutes.  Sure, we were back in business, and my boss could pay the light bill, but look what was ultimately lost.  A tech support virgin lost her innocence that day.  And southern women everywhere held their head just a little lower from that point on. 

Ultimate Blog Party Winner

   Congratulations to my Blog Party contest winner, Judy Bahney of Pittsburgh, PA.  She is the lucky new owner of a $10 Ebay gift certificate.  Thanks to each of you who came by and visited my blog via the “Ultimate Blog Party” link.  It was fun having you over to visit!  I hope you will feel free to come and visit Topsy-Techie-Land anytime…