Friday, January 31, 2014

Fourteen, Part II

Yesterday Two days ago, I had promised a 14-memory documentation.  Random memories, mostly, that would just come to me on the fly.  So here we go (in no particular order):

1.  The running date.  While dating, October 1997, I believe, we had set a date for an early morning run.  It would be our first run together and our second(ish) actual date.  If you want to call it that.  Spouse had run cross country in college and even though I was in decent shape – having just run my (very!) first marathon – I was nervous.  Can I keep up?  Will he run me into the ground?  I like this one.  What if I say something stupid, as I'm apt to do while running? As I'm apt to do all the time.  

The plan was to meet at his place and early.  Something like 6:00.  He's not a morning person at all, so when I jogged up to his front door and knocked, I was surprised to see the door open immediately.  Evidently he slept on the floor by the door to make sure he didn't miss me.  That's when I realized that he likes me too.  

2. Motorcycles.  Also while dating, he taught me to ride a motorcycle.  He had this Honda CBR F-something-er-other.  I could barely touch the ground when mounted and saddled.  What I thought, was that I'd sit up front and he in back, you know, to make sure I don't do anything stupid.  Nope.  That wasn't the plan.  When I asked, "Aren't you going to ride in the back to make sure I don't do anything stupid?"  He said, "Nope.  I'm not crazy."

That was when I realized that he didn't like me enough to die with me.  Later we bought Harleys and morphed into pretend biker geeks long enough to  road-trip a few times.  We traded his Harley for a fence and mine for a fireplace.

3. Proposal.  Every year we have this Christmas party with our Novell friends.  The tradition started in 1997 and we have yet to miss a year.  At the party of 1999, Spouse put an engagement ring in his white elephant gift and staged it so I'd be "forced" to choose it.  Thing is, I actually picked the gift without having to go through above mentioned staging.

When I opened the white elephant "gift," I found this shiny, expensive  thing that resembled a diamond ring.  Imagine my shock! Imagine my horror!  Imagine my confusion!  Imagine my happiness!  He knows I like surprises.   I said yes.

Aside, this is going to take forever!  I better condense some.

4. Bowling.  One time Spouse took me bowling.  I was grouchy, ornery, and hated everything that day.  He took me screaming and kicking (inside) and I ended up having a great time.  He's done that a bunch since.

5. Anniversary Pizza.  One year on the anniversary, we sent the kids to a neighbor and had pizza in the tub.  I brought this up a few days ago and Spouse drew a blank.  "I don't remember that." Evidently the pizza wasn't good enough to remember?  Better get a different pizza next time.

6. Jobless Baby-Daddy.  Two weeks before Yahoo #1 was born, Spouse's place of employment went belly-up.  And by belly-up, I mean all employees, save three, were brought into a room. "We can't make payroll and we're going under.  But you can take your computers if you want."

The next day I went to the hospital to register.  (They like you to do that, I guess, so that you can just roll into the hospital and labor without the hassle of paperwork.)  During the interview, the registrar asked "Are you married?" Yes.  "Where does your husband work." Blank stare.  More blank stares.... Even more blank stares... Why the blank stares?  I just became that girl – that knocked-up girl with a jobless baby-daddy.

7. Showered with Trust.  After Yahoo #1 was born and I was still in the hospital, I left the baby with Spouse to take a shower.  It was the best shower of my life, and for two reasons. First, we all know how good it is to shower after calving.  Second, I was overwhelmed with relief.  I have this awesome dude outside my door, one I trust completely, someone I can leave my children with always.  That was the day I realized the true meaning of trust.

8. Brats around the Block.  I went into labor with Yahoo #2, ironically, on our fourth anniversary.  After six patient hours of "working," it was time to go to the hospital.  The last baby took something like forever, so we figured this on would be no different.

Six hours wasn't enough, though, and they sent me home.  Told me to eat something and walk around the block.  So Spouse grilled-up some Bratwurst and we walked around the block.  That was the longest walk of my life, but a Brat I'll never forget.

9. Vans in the Grand Canyon.  One time Spouse and I hiked the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We had dropped my dad Mikey and his cronies at the North Rim the drove the cars to the South.  Once we arrived at the South Rim we hiked down to meet them. Spouse was wearing Vans because he's a Vans kind of man.

At the bottom near the river, we found Mikey with a to-the-bone gash in his knee.  Flies were hovering, dirt abounded and it didn't help that he tripped again and landed in a pool of donkey piss.  We hauled the ol' torn-up bugger out and took him to Flagstaff for stitches.  The doc on duty said, "Sir, this wound is grossly contaminated."  We returned to the South Rim somewhere around 2:00am and Mikey spent the next six weeks on antibiotics.  Spouse continued to hike in his Vans.

10. The Thumbs Speak.  At movies, we have this tradition with the previews and it goes like this: the preview will play, with its barks and bursts and brilliance, and when the preview finishes, we all look at each other and "present thumbs."  A thumb up means "It's a good one!  Let's go see it!"  A thumbs down means "Absolutely not!"  And a thumb to the side means, "Maybe, but only if one of you has a thumb up."  Even at the most epic of flicks, this Thumb Thing is my favorite part of the movie.

11.  St. George, 2002.  Spouse has been at the finish for most of my marathons.  The most memorable was St. George, 2002.  I was running along the last mile-straight-away, that being the old course mile-straight-away that's been since changed to a zig-zag.

I was running along, with less than a half mile to go.  And out of the corner of my ear, I hear "GO RABID! GO RABID! GO RABID GO!"  I turned and waved.  And there he was.  Cheering me on with a video camera and a fussy 'n angry 18-month-old in a backpack.  I declare his wrestling with the crabby baby was more work than my marathon.

12. Moth 'til you Drop.  We drove to Arizona once, and listed to Moth Podcasts the entire way.  That was a great time.

13. Darth CodeWarrior Vader.  During one of Yahoo #1's birthday parties, Spouse came out dressed as Vader.  Never was he more attractive.

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And finally, the memory to trump all memories...

14. I'm yours if you'll have me.  Our dating situation was a complicated one.  Mostly it was because I was a mess.  I had chips on my shoulder, I had trust issues, I had all sorts of things to work though. You might recall that I have been married before, and said marriage left me broken, battered and betrayed.

Spouse and I dated for a year, and when things became serious, I freaked and ran.  Ran far away.  He was very nice.  He treated me well.  Surely it was too good to be true.  I was sure that if we were to get married, the whole thing would be a repeat of the experience I had just finished.  (There was also a religious commitment that had me freaked, but I won't go into that here.)

We broke up.  He went his way.  I went mine.  We both worked a lot, we both dated.  Somehow I had the presence to establish a no-dude-can-be-dated-twice-in-a-row rule, which was successful in keeping me from getting serious.  I also had a no-chick-can-be-dated-twice-in-a-row rule, which was easy to follow because I wasn't into chicks.  For a whole year I kept myself at arms length from any and all. It was a really weird year.

Then I found this motorcycle and needed to see if I could still ride one.  So I called him and said, "Hey.  Can I borrow your bike to see if I can still ride a motorcycle because I found this little orange Sportster that I want really bad?"  And that was all it took.  He rode to my assistance and boy did I still love him a bunch.

We spent the next few weeks together, nonstop.  Eventually, we had to have "the talk" because it wasn't fair for either of us to be yanking the chain of the other.  So I sat him down and I said, "I'm yours if you'll have me."  

I'll never forget the look on his face.

*** Check back later.  I might have more photos.  Not now though, 'cause I'm going running.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The Spouse and me, fourteen are we.  It happened on Mon-dee.

We tend to anniversary on the down-low because we celebrate our gracious and enduring love each and every day.  Each!  And Every! Love-Enduring! Day!  This year's anniversary happenings went like this: fourteen random photos attached to the strings of fourteen balloons.  I'd show you here, but the pictures are in the bedroom and I have this thing about keeping my bedroom off the internet.  Weird, I know.  Then after a stressful day of work for both, we packed the Yahoos, picked up a to-go picnic, then traveled to the parking lot of Novell's former "Building M."

"Why are we here?" asked one of the Yahoos, don't remember which.

"We met in this building," was the reply, in unison.

Some moans and gag-me-with-the-romance groans came from the back seat.  Then there was a  a quick "Can I have my brownie now?"

(Spouse was driving and I was sitting shotgun – just in case you thought the moans and gag-me-with-the-romance groans were of the anniversary nature, and that a brownie dessert to an alleged anniversary moan 'n grown was our "thing.")

That's right folks.  It was 17 (or 18?) years ago, on the Novell Campus in Orem, Utah, Building M, that we met.  Spouse wrote software that sometimes housed some bugs, I found the bugs, I told him to fix those bugs, then he fixed the bugs and I tested the fixed bugs.

We meant-for-each-other-geeks were married January 27th, 2000.  Sigh.

It's been a great ride.  I mean this truly.  Sometimes it's easy and rewarding – other times unpleasant (and unyielding and compromising and infuriating.)  At the end of the day and on each anniversary, it's always nice to sincerely declare it worth the extra effort. I'd do it again a thousand times, and I love him more now than the day we were married.

Fourteen is a magical number, and I feel that I need to come up with fourteen of our most memorable moments.  Except I'll need to do that tomorrow because I'm out of time.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Washington D.C. Monuments

As mentioned earlier, we visited Washington D.C. in October.  It was terrific.  My favorite part of vacation is pictures.  Here's the Washington D.C. Monument post complete with photographs.

World War I Memorial

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World War II Memorial

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Washington Monument with Scaffolding

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Marine Corps Memorial

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IRS Building  
(It takes in a monumental amount of cash and has therefore earned "monument" status.)

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Vietnam War Memorial

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(This is what I do on vacation.)

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Lincoln Memorial

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Korean War Memorial

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This photo is extra terrific because there aren't any people in it.  How did that happen?  

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(See?  I told you.  This is what I do on vacation.)

Monumental Conversation

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Sure was fun!  And educational.  

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Martin Luther King Day - Tuesday Tune, vol 124

Yesterday was the day in which we pay tribute to the late and great Martin Luther King Jr.

The only way I know how to pay tribute is with a playlist, so that's what I did, I made a playlist.  So, with great honor, reverence, and some creative license, I present to you, songs inspired by or dedicated to, Martin Luther King Jr.

Pride (In The Name Of Love) - U2
Happy Birthday - Stevie Wonder
One Vision - Queen
Renegades of Funk - Rage Against the Machine
Like A King - Ben Harper
If I Can Dream - Elvis Presley
Change* - Tears for Fears
Shed a Little Light - James Taylor
Blackbird - The Beatles
We Owe This to Ourselves - Anberlin
Think - Aretha Franklin
Dreams* Brandi Carlile
Blues for Martin Luther King - Otis Spann
We Shall Overcome - Bruce Springsteen
Everyday People - Sly & The Family Stone
Just a Little More Love (Wally Lopez Remix Edit) - David Guetta
Off of Wonderland - Jackson Browne
MLK - U2

*Mark of creative license.  They scream "I have a dream" to me, so I added them even if they weren't specifically about or inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.

At the end of October, the Rabid Family traveled to Washington D.C.  The vacation had three main objectives: 1) visit Spouse's Cousin and family; 2) spend time with each other learning stuff; 3) run the Marine Corps Marathon.

Two of the above three were accomplished.  Number three, the marathon, didn't happen because of a torn calf.  Boo.  Here's the consolation note I wrote myself:

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Writing that little love note was surprisingly therapeutic.  

If you ask the Yahoos what they did in Washington D.C., they'd say "See Cousins!" and "Walk and walk and walk and walk.  And Walk!"  I'll bet we walked six miles a day.  Not so good when you're nursing a torn calf, but oh well.  You only live once, however, and the Rabid traveling motto of "we might never come back" made sure we took advantageous of any and all.  In good time, I hope to document our escapades here.

The very first memorial we visited (officially)* was the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. It's loaded with symbolism.  All of the monuments are loaded with symbolism, really.  I was awestruck by the amount of thought placed into the message of each monument.

*Technically, it was the second.  The first was the Marine Corps Memorial, but that was a sneaking kind of thing that we did late at night with cousin J.C., in the middle of a whirling, whip around town in his super-swift Audi.  It also involved jumping a fence (kind of.) The memorial was closed because of the marathon.

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I'm rather fond of this park person picture.  Park people are like none other.  
The passion of their subject can be seen when you ask 'em questions.  

"Out of the Mountain of Despair
A Stone of Hope"

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The placement of King in front of the mountain 
shows he's that stone of hope.

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The Yahoo tried to push it back.  But can't.  It's too heavy! 
King's hope cannot be undone!  

Let's hear it for equal rights and stones of hope. Let's also hear it for progress and being nice to each other.   Remember: we have evolved.  Yes, we have.  And we will continue to evolve because we're human and that's what humans do best.  Just ask my calf.

"We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

Monday, January 20, 2014

Weekend Warrants

On Friday, Yahoo #1 and Chaperone Spouse had a scout campout and sled slosh.  They call it the Klondike, which I believe was called such because of an ice cream sandwich. Something about two skis with a kid in the middle being like two cookies and some ice cream?  Something like that.

The plan: head up  "The Fark" for twelve (plus) hours of toil, travail and tussle – they were taking twelve and thirteen year-olds.  It's winter and their quarters were outside, in a frigid and forlorn fourteen degrees Fahrenheit.  Fifteen if they were lucky.

"Those are some choice camping conditions!" said I, in fluent sarcasm, which as you might guess, is my second language, right after English, and just before home-grown-Utah-born-redneck. "Thanks for the invite, but Yahoo #2 and I will find other things to do."

When campouts come around, Yahoo #2 and I go out and "hang."  I like to call it a "date," but he's partial to "hang." This was timely.  We two were in desperate need of some quality one-on-one time.  The Yahoos thrive on this one-on-one business.  Thrive, I say, thrive.  

Which warranted...

Snack on Sushi. "What should we do?" I asked, knowing the answer.  He replied with "snack on sushi."  He's predictable, that one; we should have a discussion about this.  Moms LOVE surprises, not predictions.  We LOVE it when we're surprised with last minute oh-no-I-forgot-my-homework at 10:00pm before an eminent 8:00am due date, and we LOVE it when they surprise us with a good up-chuck in the middle of the night.

(As an aside, I just tried to come up with an on-purpose mischievous surprise to mention, but it didn't happen.  My kids are still young. I haven't, and don't currently fret about their antics.  Yet.)

This time we tried all-you-can-eat sushi at this place called the Sushi House. I find the Sushi House mostly – meh.  I like to taste the yellowtail and tuna and sushi and eel. I like fish, therefore I want to taste the fish. I eat sushi because I like fish.  This Sushi House drowns and drizzles their rolls in so much mayo, fake crab and sweet stuff that it tastes like, well, mayo, fake crab and sweet stuff.

Then there's that Tobiko Tumble – gasp.  You cannot (cannot!) sprinkle a few sesame seeds in lieu of fish eggs and have it fly!  Sesame seeds don't squirt when you squeeze 'em between your gnashers! The least they could do is dye them orange.

(I see a future for me in the food critic business.  That was rock-star food-critic material, yes?)

Will we go back? Yes, because the Yahoo wants to.   Dinner was still terrific, however, because he sat right next to me and we made plans for skiing the next day.

Which warranted...

Bread Baking.  Bread baking?  What does bread baking have to do with snow skiing?  Let me tell you!  We ski where my dad Mikey works.  I like to store my backpack in his shack, so to ensure we earn our backpack keep and don't wear out our welcome, I bring Mikey and his "pards" some bread.  They thank me and thank me and thank me.  It's a win-win.  They are some fine individuals.

Which warranted...

First-aid Feat.  They save lives at this ski resort.  And thanks to a hunky ski patroller and some recent CPR, electric shock, and a helicopter ride, there's one more dad, husband, brother and friend in this world.  Time with loved ones is a rare commodity.  Get it while you can.

Which warranted...

Couch Cuddles and Cinema.  That night's movie of choice was The Lone Ranger.  I heard it was a colossal flop, tried it anyway, and was pleasantly surprised.  The story is on the slow side and Yahoo #1 says it "lacks music," but I found it very entertaining. The photography – especially the lighting; the locations – filmed in Utah and Colorado; the special effects – extra especially the runaway train scene at the end; and the characters – every western needs a pirate; were just to die for.

(Not really. I'm never dying for a movie.)

This Ranger feature had us doing some research.  Did you know that Armie Hammer is heir to the baking soda empire of the same name?!  Serious!  If only my grandpa had cornered the market on some cooking commodity, I could be an actor in a movie inspired by social media and then another one inspired by a radio show.  If only.  Sigh.  We also researched the origin of kemosabe, Barry Pepper (he has a great face for story telling, doesn't he?) and the silver mines of the west.

Which warranted...

Silver Shack Symposium.  Long ago, Park City was the home of a booming silver mine.  Lots of folks got rich.  As it goes, the silver slowed and the miners were forced to find work elsewhere.  What these miners didn't realize, is that the mountains were the real treasure, not the nonsensical constituent for junk jewelry that was buried beneath.

Someone finally figured that out in 1963 and built a resort.  People from far and wide would come to ride things – skis, mountain bikes, snowboards and even a slippery back-side when doing the slide-for-life.  Park City ski runs hold the mining tradition with names like Comstock, Keystone, Hoist, Payday, Bonanza, Glory Hole, Powder Keg, Prospector, Dynamite and The Shaft (always end the day with The Shaft!)  There's also this run called Mikey's, but it's not named after the miner Mikey, it's named after my dad Mikey.

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Short Fuse.  Named after me?

These Park City mountains are sprinkled with more than snow.  Many of the runs provide a home for old mining shacks and whatnot.  This is where Saturday's symposium started.  I would ski over to one of the shacks, point to it directly, and shout, "Hey Yahoo!  This is a historic silver structure!"  And he would look at me in his "so what" tone and ski off.  One day he'll appreciate this.  One day.

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Mine something-er-other on "Claim Jumper"

It was a beautiful.  A day for the books.  The mountains and the sun and the crisp, cool air were all so refreshing.  Down in the town?  Not so much.  Jam a three-day-weekend, the Sundance Film Festival, and the Olympic Trials into one little mining town and you have car chaos.  We couldn't get out fast enough.  It was stressful. We needed to be out Tonto because we had plans to meet Spouse's parents for a movie.

Which warranted...

Frozen Flick with Family.  We saw Frozen.  It started out slow and I was annoyed.  I was tired from all this hard-playin', and their cartoony eyes were just too big.  Made me think they could see right into my dark and lonely soul (a dark, very dark place, indeed.)  It picked up, though, and I had several good laughs while Spouse was out in the lavatory with a scout campout souvenir (food poisoning! Yay!)  He'll need to see this Frozen one again.  We all left very tired.

Which warranted...

Rest, Responsibility, Religion, Refreshment, and Reflexion.  First, a good night's rest was had for all (except for maybe Spouse.)  Next came five hours of work, some church – wherein we're reminded to be good people,  and finally we had crock-cooked basalmic beef with roasted root vegetables, humbly prepared, by a June Mom and her Cleaver.*  It was a packed weekend.  I'm trashed.  I haven't done that much in a weekend since I was in my, like, twentys.

*True story, I was born in June, I have a cleaver, and it was used to prepare said meal.  I don't do anything humbly, though, so that's not a true story.

Which warranted...

What the What?  Where did I fetch the fire to do all that?  Where did I get the oomph and enterprise to keep going until I dropped?  I'll tell you.  It's because I ran 10 miles.  Ten!  One mile, ten times.  (Actually it was five miles with a quarter mile walk followed by two miles and a sip of water, then three more miles.)

I ran 10 miles!

Ten miles is the threshold.  There's something about ten miles.  Once you carry your newlywed running self over that ten mile mark it's smooth sailing.  I've rehabbed and recuperated enough to know that this is true.  Once you hit ten, the inner "can't do it" gets sacked.

Which warranted...

Boston Bound.  I'm registered! And I'm going!

(I've been registered since last fall, but the actual going part has been iffie, so this is big news.)

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Smoke a Cigar

Last weekend, Spouse's workplace had its we've-been-around-ten-years celebration.  They chose to do it 1920s style.  The invitation had a 20s feel, like the Empire State Building, only on paper, and was gussied up with a 1920s font.

(All decades have a font, don't they?  What's our current decade's font?  Times Roman?  It certainly isn't Comic Sans.  Ick.  Or maybe it is?  Yowzers.  I should do a post on fonts.  That would be fun.)

If I could choose to renaissance a fashion, any fashion, it would be the 1920s - 1930s fashion.  It's dapper, flattering for almost all body types, and has pizazz.  This party could be fun.

And so it was, on Saturday, January 11, 2014, Spouse initiated costumes and I applied munitions; we were dudded up and ready.  I was a choice bit of calico; a real bearcat.  My zoot-suited bimbo was the cat's pajamas.  A couple of East American Fork eggs, we were hotsy-totsy and ready to blouse.  All we needed was a little giggle-water and some noodle-juice.

Oh.  And a cigar.  To keep us from looking like complete oilcans, we needed a cigar.  "Better stop at The Sev for a cigar. But first let's go to Vera's for a photo." We went to Vera's and she took our photo.

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Father Time, wearing his Cheaters, and his Flour-Flushing Tomato

Vera had Running Brother Bruce and his lovely wife as company.  I mentioned the need to stop at The Sev for a cigar.  This is when Running Brother Bruce became ten sheets to excited.  "Cigar?!  I got a cigar!"  He was a bit spifflicated to begin with, but the prospect of showcasing a fancy cuban turned the night into a downright sockdollager.  Out the door he went.  Came back in five with his cigar.

Now Stu, the man manacled to Vera, knew his onions.  "You don't wanna take that cigar.  Lemme see that."  Took the cigar.  Studied it.  "Rolled in 1999... yup... that cigar is worth $3000."

Horsefeathers!  $3000?

Who would smoke a $3000 cigar?  Who would even pay for a $3000 cigar?  I cannot imagine paying $3000 for anything consumable.  Not food, not drink.  Not sex either.  Which brings up the topic of hookers.  It's a profession of consumption.  I wouldn't even pay Spouse $3000 for a hook-up unless it was for charity.  I would, however,  sport a million for a life time of hook-ups with Spouse, because as you might know, marriage hook-ups are like fine cheese:  they get better with age.

(If you do the math, you'll see that a million divided by $3000, is 333.33.  So after 333.33 times of hooking up, the price drops below $3000.  At 75 for each of 40 years,  that's 3000 total hook-ups,  making it a bargain $333.33 for each.  And you thought math wasn't sexy.)

Just like cheese, though, and with age, the marriage relations can get stale and moldy.  When this happens it's time to pasteurize – you pasteurize the marriage with lacy accoutrements.

One time – don't tell Spouse about this... (he isn't reading because he has a new job and is studying and has no time for my garbage) – one time, I was mad at Spouse.  I mean MAD.  I don't recall why.  So I decided to show him.  I threw out all my lacy accoutrements.  All of them.  Did he notice?  Nah.   That really showed him, didn't it?  Once the lacys were gone, it turned out I had to show him even more.

While we're on the subject of hook-ups and lace, let us discuss Valentine's Day.  It's around the corner.  I've seen many a groupon and slickdeal for boudoir photos.  This is one of those things I might never understand.  I'm all about free will and whatnot, so if you want a boudoir photo go for it.  You want to make money taking boudoir photos?  Again, go for it.  You could rebut with an "it's art!" but something tells me that the average boudoir glossy won't make its way into any of the Smithsonians.

Mostly I don't understand its purpose.  Who wants a photo of a 30-something house-wife trying to be a Victoria Secret model?  And then, what do you do with the photo?  Hang it in the hall next to your fourth grader's toothless class picture?  Or do you display it proudly on your work desk next to the glamour shot your wife gave you ten years ago?

What's going to happen, is you will give it to your spouse (loved one, friend with benefit... whatever) and he'll stow it in his wallet or on his (wink-wink) laptop's hard drive.  Yes, that's a great idea!  He will feel its presence and accompanying reminder: "Look hunny! Here's a photo of something you can have only when I say you can have it!"

Tee-hee.  Heee.

Would I want a boudoir photo of Spouse.  Hmmmm.  Nah.  Unless it was the provocative display of a menial household chore.  Dishes, perhaps. He, on the other hand, might want one. If I asked he'd say sure.  And then I'd say what do you want me to wear. And then he'd say a push-up bra, track bummies, ski boots, and a Red-Head Blackout bow with laser sight and tuned whisker biscuit.

Smoke on that visual for a bit.  Sorry to ruin your day.

Now back to the cigars.  We left the $3000 cigar with Running Brother Bruce and decided not to stop at The Sev for a cigar, 'cause, like, we don't need no stinky cigar, do we?  We drove directly to the party – appropriately staged in a place called "The Underground."  A 1920s vehicle was out front.  A man was at the door, guarding it with a Toy Tommy.

"What's the password?"

Spouse looked at the invite.  It said the password was "Smoke a Cigar."

See?!  Complete oilcans.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reader Reader, Bookend Eater

The Spouse gave me a Kindle for Christmas.

I was hesitant to jump on the e-reader book-mobile, because, well, I like books.  I like to feel books.  And I love the smell.  I love the smell of one freshly cracked, with its crisp ink and hint of glue.  I like old books too, the ones that smell of stale dust and even the ones infused with the odor of living – smoke, garlic, napalm, or cheep perfume.  I like the paper for it's shape and color.  I like books with straight 'n even pages, and those whose pages are frayed and skewed.  And I feel history and sentiment when I thumb through a book where time has framed each page the color of tea.

The feel, the smell, the look – it's all about the reading experience.

We started talking about this e-reader thing a while ago, Spouse and me, when I was moping about the house with nothing to read, and wanted to download something.  We have an iPad or two, and that works, I guess. But I'm not a big fan of reading a book through the glare of gorilla glass.  There's also the battery situation.  I don't want to make sure my book is plugged in and charged.

So Amazon has this Kindle Paperwhite.  It's black and whiteish, works in broad daylight, has essentially no glare, and get this – the battery lasts for weeks.  I mentioned that I might want one so Spouse gave me one and I love it.  It's terrific – downloads in a flash, fits in the purse, and has highlighting, note, vocab and wiki features.  I've read it for hours and haven't plugged it in for two weeks.  The only thing it lacks is odor.  I can probably help with that.

Since Christmas, I've read a few.  Here's a brief report:

Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson

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A great read.  While the subject, Steve Jobs, is fascinating enough for eight books, Isaacson does a tremendous job of not getting in the way.  By this I mean that you can get lost in the Jobs' story.  You forget about who's writing it, even though there's plenty of narrative.  Isaacson's Albert Einstein biography was also very good.  He has a way of explaining complicated and technical subjects to dopey folks like me without dumbing it down or over-simplifying.  Steve Jobs' life, exploits, and fumbles are organized and presented well.  This book is a great reminder that some of those who appear to have it all really don't, and that weaknesses often produce our grandest feats.

The Art of Racing in the Rain
by Garth Stein

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This is the story of a dog and his race-car driving owner, one who excels at racing in the rain.  A heartfelt and bittersweet story, it's written by the dog and solely from the dog's point of view.  I will never look at my dog the same.  I kind of want to go to a race now too.

Slaughterhouse Five
by Kurt Vonnegut

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This is my first Vonnegut experience.  I am now a fan.  Amazon Prime has this reader exchange thing, where you can check out two books a month.  This was on the list of available books so I gave it a stab.  War isn't pretty.  And war hero stories aren't either.  This wasn't a war hero story.  This was a mostly fictional tale, about an unlikely underdog survivor of the Dresden air strike of World War II, who had a time travel/alien abduction opportunity along the way.  Vonnegut, himself, is a Dresden survivor and interjects a few paragraphs about where he was at various points along the story.  The author presents a  "so it goes" each time a death is referenced, and introduces the idea that death is not final –  it's just the body moving on to another dimension.  So it goes.

Daring Greatly
by Brene Brown

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This is the one I'm reading right now.  Brown is a self-help harpy who stresses the need to give up on external (and internal) pressures to be this or that.  She talks a lot about shame, and how we all have it to one degree or another.  We have shame, mostly, for not being or doing enough.  This one, I tell you, has really hit me hard.  It's like I have looked in the mirror for the first time.  I can't put it down.  She also stresses that we need to put ourselves in Teddy Roosevelt's "Arena," (see below.)  We need to stretch, we need to get out and get our asses kicked, and we need to make sure that we stop listening to people who refuse to subject themselves to that ass-kicking arena.  Dare to be great.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "  ~ Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

What are you reading?  Do tell.  I'll need a new book soon...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

10 Ways to Bottle Up Awesome

Wow, do I feel great today.  For real.  I FEAL AWESOME.  Last weekend, I did not feel awesome.  On the contrary.  I was ready to dig a hole in the back, wiggle my way into a straightjacket, and bury myself.  Was I sick with the flu, a cold, or gastroenteren-colon-encepher-itis?  Negative.

It was the PMS Avenger, a panic attack, and the crux of injury-rehab on top of the mildewy hue of mid-life. In a word: crazy.  It sucked.  It sucked bad.  I was a mess and not a hot one.  I was either mad, crying, or freaking out about yet another damn thing I had to do.  There were a few moments (hours, whatever) when I was all of the above.  Scary.  Grab your kids and hide.

It's over now, though, and things have stabilized.  Just this morning, after some rousing exercise and a June Cleaver breakfast, I looked around and thought.  "I am calm.  I am cool.  I am collected.  I made French Toast.  With homemade bread – wheat bread, even.  Wheat sprouted from the blustery ice dunes of North Dakota, which means it's protein percentage is off the charts.  I made buttermilk syrup. I am ready for today.  I feel awesome.  Now how the hell do I bottle this awesome for weekends like last?"  

June Cleaver would know how to bottle awesome for future use, but she ain't around.  Therefore I must fashion my own recipe du awesome preserve.

(Tune in next time when I do a Julia Childs supper.  With eggs retrieved from a holistic chicken training camp.)

1. Make an Awesome Mask, complete with thumbs up.

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 Okay, so I feel more awesome than I look.  I do have great teeth, though. Admit it.

2.  Make a real Awesome Mask, you know like "Awesome" below, and watch "Chuck" episodes for three days straight or until madness subsides.

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His teeth are great.  Greater than mine.  Not cool.  Which reminds me, the Yahoos need Nerd Herd t-shirts.

3. Have Megan make me a t-shirt that says "I am not having a bad day, I am a bad day." Portable, descriptive, perfect. It should be white and adorned with mustard stains, radioactive-orange smears (from the cheese puffs), and a grease mark of unknown origin.

4.  Make a meditation plan?  Yes, question mark.

5. Bottle a fake bomb, complete with you-must-go-running-or-the-world-will-die warning.  This might get my lazy "A" out the door when I'm lulling about with "What's the point?  I can only run a few miles."

6.  Straight jackets and a trampoline.  Sounds fun, doesn't it?

7. Highlight passages in "Daring Greatly" (by BrenĂ© Brown) to assist and defuse at a future date.  Resist the shame!  Make yourself vulnerable!  Engage!  And all that other crap.

8. Stock up on Mascara.  When all else fails, let Mascara save the day.

9.  Record me saying "Comparison is the thief of joy. Now get in the arena!" a hundred times.  That's a Teddy Roosevelt-inspried ditty.

10.  Taser, one that shocks and shoots a flag that says, "Shut up, tune out, and just watch the Yahoos play already.  They'll be gone in, like... minutes..."

Now it's your turn.  How would you bottle awesome?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Team" - Tuesday Tune, vol 123

On a whim and a whistle I booked a flight and flew to Reno.  This was Friday morning, January the Third, and the flight was scheduled for the following morning.  Shortly after booking this flight I went for a run.  And on this run, the mePod dialed up a tune called "Team" by Lorde.

I've heard this song several times.  It has some recent popularity.  Up until that run, however – that run I ran shortly after booking a trip to Reno – I had never paid attention to the lyrics.  Specifically, these:

We live in cities you'll never see onscreen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Livin' in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know we're on each other's team

I listened to that song for three miles. (By hitting repeat, not because I can run three miles really fast.)

As time goes by, and as I get older, the term "Friend" takes on a whole new meaning.  Once upon a time, a "Friend" was someone you called to go to movies, get pedicures, do lunch, ski, or run.  A "Friend" was someone you spent time with, doing a particular "thing," because you had that "thing" in common.

Now that I'm old as [almost] mold, "Friend" is no longer a venue for passing time, a venue chosen because an interest (or two) is aligned.  Now, "Friend" is someone you spend time with in spite of aligned interests.

All of my friends are very different.  We have different opinions and talents and quirks.  But yet, even with our many differences, we know we're on each other's team.

You get to a point in adulthood when passing time with someone is no longer necessary; you'd prefer to be alone and even lonely, than to whittle away an hour with a shallow body.  A body who is not on your team, who would prefer you fall on your face.  That's the thing, when you're on each other's team, you may or may not agree, and you may or may not approve, but deep down, you want that friend to do and be their best.  It's not a competition.  When you're "Friends," and you're on each other's team, you do what you can to help that "Friend" be awesome.

It's the way it is.  You're either on each other's team or you're not.  That's why today's Tuesday Tune is Team - Lorde.

I have a small handful of friends, and we are on each other's team.  No, we are not on the same team, we are on each other's teams.  There's a big difference.  I'm on your team too.  I want you to be awesome as long as you don't have to hurt someone in the process.

Around my parts, there's been some serious political turmoil.  I mean, houses are divided!  Sometimes I just want to yank folks out of their persistent stubbornness and say, "Hay.  You can disagree on this one (or two things) and still be on each other's teams.  You really can, no one has to be 'right!'"  Call me naive, but I really believe this.

Now, why on earth would I go to Reno?!  I'll tell you why.  It was the DIP JAM. (It's DIP, because once upon a time, we were divorced, injured, and pregnant; and it's JAM because we are Jessica, Amber, and Megan -- Rabid doesn't work here so I had to use my real name.  Gasp!  There it is! For the first time!)

Five years ago, on the intersphere, I met Megan and Jessica.  We live in Los Angeles, CA (Jessica), Sparks, NV (Megan) and American Fork, UT (me.)  Periodically, we pick a place and meet there.  The last time we were together was November 2012, in New York City, smack-dab-in-the-middle of hurricane mayhem.  We were a hot mess on this trip, what with us being divorced, injured 'n pregnant, so it was altogether fitting that the city we stayed was a hot mess as well.

And so it was, at the beginning of the week of January 3rd, the Year of Our Lord 2014, that Jessica invited herself to Megan's house.  Then she took it upon herself to invite me to Megan's house.  Naturally, I responded with "got too much to do" because that's what I say now because I'm in a rut and don't want to do exert any energy whatsoever rearranging my life so that I can have any fun.  Lucky for me, though, they didn't cease the badgering, and my work and kids and Spouse and whatnot made some accommodations.

On another DIP JAM, before we were all DIPped up, we rendezvoused in Sparks.  While in Sparks I made sure we paid a visit to some hokey local museum.  That time it was the Donner Party museum at the top o' Donner Pass.  They both thought I was crazy, and maybe they thought I was a little bit lame, but we visited it all the same.

When Megan and Jessica picked me up at the airport last weekend, you know what they said?  They said, "We are going to Virginia City to visit the Mark Twain Museum."  

See that?  They are on my team.  I just need to make sure I'm on theirs...

Here are some photos:

The Virginia City Cemetery, wherein I hollered, "Stop the car!  I want to go to there!"

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Monument Parkour.  Jessica on the Left, Megan on the Right – which is where they reside politically as well.  I think...

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The Mark Twain Museum.  It's a dungeon.  With steep steps.  This old witchy-like lady threw us down the stairs.  I swear I heard the door shut and a cackle. (She was a very nice witchy-like lady, really, she just had fairies and dragons all over and it was creepy.)

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Turns out that the museum is just a big room full of old crap, all of which has nothing to do with Mark Twain, except for this...

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And this "Something Happened Here!" plaque and maybe a toilet he sat on and some quotes...

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Still... my idea of a great time.

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You can read Megan's excerpt by going here.  It's much better.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Under Promise, Over Produce

It's the new year.  It's the time we make promises and whatnot.

(It's also the time that I quit going to the gym because everyone and their dog has started going to the gym.  I'll go back in a month. In the mean time I'll make it my cause – for all mankind – to gain all those pounds that people shed in January.  Then in February I'll give all those pounds back.  Recycling at it's finest, yes?)

We Rabids in the RabidFamily have a saying: Under Promise, Over Produce.

Under Promise, Over Produce.  It's all about keeping our word and then adding a little something on top.  It's about managing expectations with ourselves and with others.  It's about integrity.  Most important (-ly?), it's about walking more than we talk – we won't blabber on and on about how awesome we are.  We will sit back and let results do the talking.

That's how we try to roll.  Sometimes we roll better than others.  We also have a myriad of ranges for that try factor.

Some might criticize the work methodology of Under Promise, Over Produce.  They could claim that an Under Promise is what slackers and sandbaggers do.  This is true, and some folks might approach the Under Promise, Over Produce technique that way.  Not we Rabids though.  Our Under Promises include hard work and usually a stretch of character and/or skill.  Our Under Promises remind us that we are human and acknowledge our many limitations (the biggest being there are only 24 hours in each day), and our Under Promises ensure that we are conservative in our estimates.

Under Promise also means that you don't hit the finish line with a list of excuses.  There will be no "Sorry boss.  I didn't finish because I had a meltdown on the way out the door, all because the kids couldn't find their shoes, which meant I needed a nap, which meant that I couldn't finish my the extra eight TPS reports that I had promised, let alone the cover sheets, and then I lost my toothbrush."

Over Produce, on the other hand means just that... produce over that which you promise.  It means get in there, work hard, and kick ass.  Would you care for an example of said Over Produce-ing?  Of course you would!

Spouse and I were married four months before I found out he had a master's degree.  It was Memorial Day 2000 and we were moving into the house we have now.  While clearing out the goo from the back of his car, I stumbled upon a little certificate.  The certificate said, "We hereby present a Master of Science to Spouse in the field of Computer Science."  Or something like that.  He has it stuffed away somewhere (again) so I know not where it lies and cannot verify it's verbiage.

At the time I was confused.  I knew he had a CS degree but thought it was of the BS classification.  "Why didn't you tell me about this?" said I.  To which he said, "You never asked."  Meaning, I didn't phrase my question properly.  Somewhere along the one-year dating-line, I should have asked, "Dearly beloved Spouse, do you have an MS in CS?"  Shame on me.  And to my credit, you must know that a thorough background check with the law does not include educational echelons.  (That guy was squeaky-clean!  Not even a speeding ticket.)

Yes, that Spouse of mine is astutely understated when it comes to communicating his many accolades.  He's full of good surprises.

I've told this story to many.  Mostly because it illustrates the polarity of my combined marital experiences.  Surprises and revelations from Jimmy (the other guy that I was married to) were surprises that involved the selling and/or growing of various controlled substances.

Why all this fuss about Under Promise, Over Produce?   Well, right now I'm looking at the year 2014 and what I want to do with it.  I want to do lots with 2014.  It looks like I'll need a few extra months.

Stay tuned.  We'll see what I plan to Under Promise, Over Produce.