Sunday, December 24, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Flaming Dod

Carolyn here.
So I love my job. I enjoy working and I think I am at a place that is a good fit. My boss was willing to move my hours around to conform with Stewart's, which is good since we still share a car (possible only because we work the same hours and are only a mile apart.) I even enjoy the drama that is an inevitable part of working. Sure there are a good amount of uneventful days, I'll call these productive days. Then there are days that just beg to be posted about. Like the time I was told that I look like the Shaquille O'Neal of Ewoks or the day I was told that I have the tongue of an adder. Still trying to figure that one out. There are the horribly dramatic days like when one of my coworkers died of a heart attack three doors away from work on his way in.
And the days like yesterday when a few of us watched out the front window as police men and fire men blocked off the road facing our front door. When we stuck our heads out the door to see what was going on, they yelled at us to "get right back inside now." Wow. I haven't been yelled at like that since I hit my little sister in the mouth with a grapefruit spoon. Her gums are fine. So half an hour later, when the same sheriff burst through the door and ordered us to vacate the premises immediately, we started to get worried. We all got outside and proceeded to stand around in the street, waiting to find out what was going on. We finally found out that there was possible radiation seeping into the area. I started to get worried about my unborn children (for the aforementioned nursery) so we all called it a day and left.
Then there are workdays like the beautiful day in April of last year when I was returning from a business trip in Manhattan with four coworkers. I had drunk a liter of water with lunch and didn't think to use the bathroom before we left. The company van was one of those old Dodges. The radio worked ok and one of the guys had just got the clock set on our way down to the city two days earlier. This van was known for breaking down but I had not as yet had the pleasure of being broken down on the side of the road in the middle of winter. On the front end where it usually says DODGE, the G and the E were missing so I called it the DOD. After several miles I begged my boss to stop at the next rest stop and he relented, much to my joy and comfort. As I walk into the rest stop I noticed a Cinnabon kiosk and think to myself, "Self, maybe on the way out." But no, we all head back out to the DOD only to notice smoke coming from it's front end. I run back inside and quickly ask the two teenage boys working the hotdog stand where's the pay phone because our van is on fire in the parking lot. Their looks told me that this was not an every day occurrence for them. By the time I get back outside to await the fire department, the guys have gotten all of our personal belongings and the office equipment out of the DOD. Well, almost all of it. Then we wait and watch. Along with everyone else in the parking lot. I will always remember watching the headlights simply pop out of the front of the DOD. That was kind of anticlimactic. It was around this point that a man came up to us with a little fire extinguisher from his trunk and sprays the van, accomplishing nothing. Then he yells at everyone to get back, that with all of his years of experience fighting fires he knew that she was gonna blow. So I duck back behind the two tech guys from my office and think of how brave they are. Or that I just got behind them before they could get behind me. I was so relieved when the fire department showed up and put the fire out without it blowing up, but in retrospect, that would have been way cooler of a blog story.
This all happened during the few weeks when Stewart and I had only one cellphone and no home phone and he was gone from work for the day. I had the cellphone. I had to call friends from downtown Albany to drive out to my house and tell him not to pick me up at the before agreed upon time. They delivered the message that I would be home late, that the van caught on fire but that I was fine and I would just get a ride home with one of those brave tech guys. So while we waited for another ride to take us further along our journey, I finally got that Cinnabon I'd been craving earlier. I ate it in the rainy drizzle while trying to keep the equipment safe.
And that is why Stewart and I each have our own cellphones and why they are camera phones. And why I try not to go on business trips anymore.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Politics, Home Repair and Jock Itch, Part 3

For the record any mention of a nursery in my last posting was purely accidental and not indicative of any change in our reproductive status. Well at least not that I'm aware of but I'm a man so I'm oblivious to most of my surroundings. That said we really are not yet prepared to enter the world of parenting as we are still conducting research for our upcoming book tentatively titled, "Our Kids Won’t Be Like That: A childless couple’s guide to parenthood".

Here's an excerpt from the introduction:
Experts may disagree on the causes of childlessness among couples. For some, the experts blame infertility with either the man or woman in the relationship (And yet we can go to any tractor pull and see teenage girls with four kids at their hip, life isn't fair). Others couples have the common marital problem of no sex; any married men reading this know what I'm talking about (I mean honestly how many headaches can you have? It's probably from washing your hair all the time). Others face the obvious biological difficulty of being same gender couples.

While all of these factors may play a role in why we as a group haven’t "multiplied and replenished the earth" there are two underlying reasons that biologists, sociologists, and doctors have missed.

The first and most important reason for not having children is quite simply this; we’re all saving for a boat! That’s right every last one of us is a selfish narcissist who would rather buy things for ourselves than spend money on someone who will spend most of their lives hating us and complaining to their friends about how messed up their childhood was.

The second reason and probably more pertinent to our study here is the simple fact that we’ve seen what you’ve done to your kids and we don’t want our kids to play with them.

As I've mentioned to some of you, this book will be followed up after we have children with a book tentatively titled "Why The Hell Didn't Anybody Tell Us Our Kids Would Be This Way". Now back to our continuing series.

Jock Itch!

It sucks and I'm glad I don't suffer from it anymore than any other men. Oh and as an aside to the female gender, we're going to scratch. That's right it's what guys do, we scratch. If you don't like it, don't be with us at sporting events or any other time when we're wearing jeans. Also there is no other way to watch football than with your pants undone the remote in one hand and your thumb tucked into your belt buckle, you wouldn't understand this, you're a woman. Now that's all I've got to say about that. How about another video?

This is from one of my favorite all time movies, Lisbon Story. Sadly Lisbon Story isn't very easy to find these days, in fact I couldn't find a dvd version of it for region 1. The plot of the movie itself isn't that going to rivet you to the seat. The main storyline is about a director who comes to Lisbon to find a friend who went missing on a movie project he was doing in the city. It's a good film but not a great one. The true stars of the movie are Lisbon itself and the music of Madredeus, which plays an integral role in the discovery of the city. This song is Ainda by the aforementioned Portuguese fado band. Enjoy!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Politics, Home Repair and Jock Itch, Part 2

So we've discussed politics. Now for part two of our triumverate of unpleasant things,
I can see you're as terrified as I am.

To fully understand the horror of home ownership I need to take you back two years ago last month. My wife and I recently had acquired good jobs which provided us a comfortable enough living, or so we thought, to purchase a house. And so we undertook the process of house shopping. House shopping is unlike any other shopping. Unlike clothes or cars you can neither try on or test drive a house. With house shopping you have to know what you're looking to avoid, e.g. carpenter ants, windows made before the rise of steam power, and of course ghosts you've gotta avoid ghosts.

Unfortunately first time home owners don't always know these things. In fact it's easier to determine if your house is haunted than if you have the other two aforementioned problems (In answer to your unspoken question, yes your house is haunted everybody's is). You can't always tell if the carpenter ants are just hiding in the house, or if the windows weren't just painted by the former owner's kids to make them look newer.

Now let's get back to us. So after being outbid on three houses, Wife and I were getting desperate. Then we saw this house. We both liked the hard wood floors and the vaulted ceilings were pretty cool. Since we were getting frustrated with the process and we didn't want to kill off another real estate agent (Seriously our first agent got in a head on crash with a tractor trailer on her way home from showing us a house. She survived but was in pretty rough shape for awhile.), we put a bid on the house as it was the best we'd seen in awhile. While surprise, surprise we got it.

Can you imagine how excited we were? Well unfortunately, the love affair was short. We found that the former owners were nice enough to take in all the carpenter ants in a five county radius and put them up in the front door. Someone of course had decided to cover up these residents by placing a nice board over the infected area. We only found out they were there when they turned over a petition to me asking me to turn up the thermostat. I took care of them in turn by removing the infected wood and laying enough ant poison to kill a small village.

That experience taught us a valuable lesson that everyone should bare in mind, home ownership is an unending expense. On top of the constant repairs, upgrades, and things that break you have to deal with taxes and fees. Then there are the ever important familial debates with the house, like which room will be the nursery and which will house my collection of baseball cards, where to put the piano vs. where to put the plasma screen tv (c'mon Santa be a pal I really want one) or the most important of all what color should each room be painted.

So we finally arrive at the real story about me falling through the ceiling. Now I know Wife indicated that this was some kind of foolishness on my part. In fact some have gone so far as to suggest if I dropped fifty pounds it might have supported me (I'm not that fat people, though you'll still never see my "fat pirate" photo from this summer). The real reason I jumped through the ceiling (doing a nice triple flip on the way down through) was to force us to paint the bedroom. That's right! That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I certainly didn't just put all of my weight on the dry wall instead of on the crossbeams, that would be foolish. No I wanted to paint the bedroom. Now because of my bravery in forcing this issue I got my way. So there. Now for some photos:
Sexy me painting my recently fallen through ceiling.

The color we finally decided on. We used some mild texturing but you can't really tell from this angle.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and actually try to link this to a video from YouTube. Song of the day Jean-Jacques Goldman: Sache Que Je. One of the better songs I heard when I was a missionary over in France. Here's the link, I'll go back and link some of the other songs I've mentioned when I have the time:

Oh and since I haven't done it in awhile here's a recipe for you one of my favorites:
Gine's Bread
8 Cups Flour
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Cup Butter (melted-lukewarm)
2/3 Cup Milk
1 Cup Water
2 Tsp Yeast
2 Egg Yolks

Preheat oven to 375. Mix your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. I prefer to add a little cinnamon as well to give it a bit more flavor. In a separate bowl activate the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk to the liquids bowl and add a pinch of sugar. Let sugar activate five minutes. Melt or soften the butter. Wait for it to cool long enough so it doesn't curdle the milk. Add it to the rest of the liquids. Making a well in the dry ingredients add the liquids. Mix a little flour into the liquids to make a "sponge", let stand for ten minutes. Mix in the rest of the dry ingredients and knead thoroughly. Add flour as needed during the kneading process. Divide dough in two equal parts. Let rest for twenty minutes. Roll out each part into 1 to 1 1/2 foot long snakes, the dough should be about an inch in diameter. Braid the two snakes together using water to fuse the four ends of the braid. Tuck the ends under the bread. Let rise for 1 hour or until fully proofed. Glaze with beaten egg yolks. Cook at 375 for about an hour (may take longer depending on how thick you make the bread). Serve hot with honey butter or nutella.

Bon Appetit.