Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Long Wait

I have been working on these random thoughts for two weeks. You would think that they should be really good, but they are not. The thoughts aren't that plentiful either. I haven't been putting that much time or thought into them. They only lasted because I had to go out of town last week and didn't have time to post them. So here are this week's random thoughts after a long wait in the hopper.


    • I was writing an outline at work trying to keep up with all the tasks I had to complete. I wrote down a, b, 3. I am losing my mind.
    • I just saw a study on the Internet that says NY drivers have been found the angriest, most aggressive drivers in the US. Way to put our money to good use. I have been doing some studies myself. I found that the sky is blue. Alaska is cold. Frenchmen are rude. And the government wastes my money on funding stupid studies.
    • Arica and I went to see our local minor league baseball team play last week. We had a great time. The only drawback was the fact that we apparently were placed in the kiddie section. We were at the end of a row that had about 10 kids. They crawled over us every single inning. I wanted to punt them down onto the field.
    • If I were a snake I would pray every night that I went to Louisiana when I died. That place is snake heaven.
    • Right now Cajun food ranks right up there with Italian food, and a big juicy steak as my all time favorite.
    • Arica watches "So You Think You Can Dance." That Mary chick has big teeth and screams way too much. It just needed to be said.
    • Lately I have noticed in my posts that I have used a lot of numbered lists. Apparently my inner engineering nerd is trying to get out and kill my inner blogging nerd. It should be a fun fight.
    • We went to the lake on Sunday and the water was hot. There is nothing like going to the lake for a refreshing dip and jumping into water that feels like a hot bath.
    • Random thoughts are a great way for the bad blogger to get a post up with minimum use of his time and his brain.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Bad Blogger

I want to tell the story of the bad blogger. Let's call him Otter. Otter led a simple life. He went to the office five days a week and did his engineering chores. Often times he didn't have too many assignments for the day. One of those boring days he began thinking of new ways to spend his time. His son had just been born, and all Otter's thoughts revolved around the wee lad.

Perusing the Internet for all types of activities Otter continually kept coming across the topic of blogging. Of course this topic has been mainstream for some time, but it never seemed to appeal to the bored engineer. This time, armed with the newness of fatherhood, it made more sense.

With that our new blogger set out to start a running commentary on the Life of a New Dad. Ideas were never hard for this blogger. His mind is a raging torrent of thoughts every day. He had plenty of time to pound out a post or two on most work days. With posts usually on stand by Otter never had to miss a day. What's better he was able to read all his favorite blogs and comment every day. He made new friends and his blog grew by leaps and bounds.

Then business picked up at the the engineering office. Being the entire engineering office on his own this meant much work for our up and coming blogger. He soon became swamped with orders, drawings, phone calls, emails, and banging his head on the desk. The latter of those tasks is only undertaken to help with ones tolerance of the others.

This is when the bad blogger appeared. No longer did Otter have time to type a post a day. Some days he barely had time to drink his coffee. Otter hates nothing more than to work so long that when he gets back to his coffee it is cold, inducing the spit this crap out reflex. Spitting coffee on anything is a bad idea.

So here we are in our hero's journey. Blogging has taken a back seat. Work is work. Home is caring for little Braden. Blogging is lost in a forest of real responsibility. Hopefully all you readers out there in internetland will bear with me. Hopefully things will slow down a bit soon. Then I can return to posting more regularly. Also I can return to reading all your blogs. I have not quit on any of you. I just haven't been able to find the time.

For now I am the bad blogger, but some day soon I will return triumphantly to my throne as king of this space. My hits will again grow. The content of this blog will thrive and flourish like the flies in my back yard.

Now I have to go. My phone is ringing again.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tips for Traveling with Wife and Baby

We are back from our trip to the Crescent city. Some things on our adventure were great. Others were not so great. Cajun cuisine is one of my all time favorites. I love shrimp, oysters, crab meat, etouffee, gumbo, and just about everything else they cook down on the bayous of Louisiana. That part of the trip was amazing. We got to visit the French Quarter. We got to do some shopping as well. It was just a bit more difficult to mix business and pleasure than I imagined.

I haven't had time to put together a deep thoughtful post for this week. I just got through driving all day long. My only thoughts were to avoid all the crazy drivers and to find my exits. Much of my day was spent thinking things like...exit171...US65N...exit 171...did you see that new Camaro...I love the return of the American muscle car...What was that exit again?

With all that excitement going on my only choice is to share something about our trip. I decided to share a list of things that can help other's who dare to take their wife and baby on a business trip. Some of these things I learned by screwing up. Others I learned by making good choices. I won't tell you which are which. That is up to your imagination. Here is my list of tips for mixing business with pleasure and with your wife and with your baby.

  1. Make sure you get a large hotel room. Your family does not want to feel like they are waiting in a prison cell while you are at work.
  2. Plan some activities for them. Again they don't want to feel like prisoners while you are working.
  3. Don't come back to the hotel talking about work. If every minute is going to be about your job then you might as well stay home and invite them to your office.
  4. Try not to invite them to a job when you will have to start really early. If you come home tired and grumpy everyone loses. Especially if you have failed on any of the first three items.
  5. Give serious consideration to the sleeping arrangements. If the baby doesn't sleep then nobody in the hotel room sleeps. Neither does the guy next door.
  6. If you are driving be sure to have a flexible time schedule to allow for stopping to feed, change, or just play with the baby.
  7. Bring plenty of drinks and snacks for the car ride so you don't have to stop and wake the baby if they are sleeping. On a long car ride a sleeping baby is the ultimate goal.

Those are just some ideas. Spending time with family is always a great thing. Taking a little time to get things just right makes it even better.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Last week my boss returned from an extended trip to Europe. He called me from Chicago O'hare and asked me what I was doing next week. I knew this was not an invitation to play a round of golf. This was the let's send our engineer somewhere next week conversation.

Of course as any good employee would do I replied that I was doing nothing. Boss man said he wanted me to go to Louisiana and supervise the loading of our equipment into a container for shipment overseas. This basically means I watch and make sure everything goes into the container. My only other job is to make sure the crane operator doesn't kill me with any wildly swinging steel members.

The surprise was that I was offered the option to either fly or drive and take my family. It took me all of a milisecond to make that decision. Here are several reasons why I chose to take the family with me.
  1. I am going away for some time this summer already, so I don't want to be away from Arica and Braden any more than necessary.
  2. The plant is just outside New Orleans so it would be an opportunity to let Arica see the Big Easy.
  3. I always believed that you should expose your children to Bourbon Street before they reached one year of age. Any later is just bad parenting.
  4. I finally had the opportunity to mix business with pleasure.

So we are off to New Orleans in a couple of hours. We are throwing caution to the wind. Nightmares about a 7 hour car ride with a baby are nowhere in our thoughts. Plans of stopping 20 times to feed, entertain, and change our little boy are no worry to us. This trip will be as simple as putting on your pants.

I probably won't be posting until later this week. All my free time will be spent enjoying a mini vacation with my family. We are taking advantage of the opportunity to take a break. I hope this opportunity doesn't in turn break us.

Friday, June 19, 2009

First Father's Day

With Father's Day upon us there is much talk about what Dad means to you. My Dad means a great deal to me. If you have read much of my blog you will find all kinds of references to things we did together when I was growing up. That is one unexpected thing I have gained from blogging. I realized how good a Dad I have. Thanks for always being there and HAPPY FATHER'S DAY DAD!

Since this blog is about my life as a new dad it would make sense to post something about me. What would be my perfect Father's Day? What makes me a good Dad? Am I a good Dad? How does it feel to celebrate your first Father's Day? All of these questions could be answered or attempted anyway. Of course I am not going to write about myself. Instead I decided to take a different route.

I am very close with Braden. I spend hours each day trying to decipher his facial expressions, grunts, and cries. I feel I can read his mind most of the time. Since I can read his mind I know that he approves of this idea. I will attempt to convey a few of Braden's thoughts about his Dad on this first Father's Day we will share together.
  1. Dad is the big guy with hair on his face. That hair really tickles when he tries to kiss me. I laugh and scream and he thinks it's funny. I really just want him to stop. Can't he remember when he was a kid and people tormented him. I can't wait until I can talk.

  2. Dad is the guy that makes a lot of noise. He is either talking really loud or dragging his feet around the house. He stomps and runs into things very gracefully. I can't tell you how many mornings he has woke me and Mommy up.

  3. Dad is certifiably crazy. He is always making crazy faces and saying silly things. This man just breaks into song at any time. You never know what he is going to do next. I have repeatedly given him the stink eye but this does not deter him.

  4. Dad likes to take me outside. This is a big plus because as a baby I am unable to work the doors. If I could work those things I would be out there in a minute. Stuff is always happening outside. Last time I was out there I saw winged creatures travelling through the air above me. It's crazy. How do they do that? I must find out.

  5. Dad takes naps with me sometime. One minute he is sticking a pacifier in my mouth and the next thing I know two hours have passed. I know he has been sleeping too. I can see that half asleep look in his eye. He doesn't fool me.

  6. Dad put up that obstruction between the soft floor and the hard floor. I feel like a caged animal in here. I have been banging around on it. Dad thinks I am just clumsy, but I am checking for the weak spot. I will find it and exploit it.

I think these are probably some things that Braden thinks. I know for sure that he loves me as well, but I am not going to write a love note to myself from my 7 month old son. From my side of the story I will say that being his Dad means everything in the world to me. Seeing him smile is the light of my world.

The first Father's Day is kind of surreal. It doesn't feel right that I am being included in this tradition. This Holiday has always been about my Dad. Of course it still is about him too. He doesn't stop being a Dad just because I became one.

Unfortunately the luster of Father's day is sometimes lost behind all the bad jokes about beer, golf, and remote controls. Now being a father myself has put a different light on the holiday. Not because I think I deserve recognition. I don't. I do nothing more than any other good Dad. It looks different because I have a different appreciation for what it means to be a Dad. Every son or daughter sees things differently after becoming a parent. You can never understand it until it happens to you.

Since I have been blogging I have met a lot of great Dad's. With the pride and understanding only found through living the Life of a New Dad, I want to wish them all a very special Happy Father's Day.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Keepsake Award and Story

I got this award last week from Tom @ Being Michael's Daddy.

He writes about his fatherhood journey with a hilarious son. The stories are always entertaining. Tom also shares the joy of engineering with me. I feel something like a bond of secret brotherhood between us because of that. Stop by and meet Tom for yourself by clicking here. You'll be glad you did.

The rules of this award state that I have to share a sweet or funny keepsake that tells something about myself. Honestly just typing the term sweet keepsake has made me a little nauseous. This is not typically my type of thing, but I will not reject a reward due to my squeamishness. I also have to bestow this award on ten others. Tom has already given the award to several blogs that I read so I have left them out. I read tons of great blogs, many of which are linked on the right. Everyone I read deserves an award, but the blogs I have chosen for this particular award are below. After visiting them check out my story.

4 Nuts in a Nutshell
Mommy Kingdom
Daddy Diaries
Frogs in My Formula
The Adventures of Super Mega Dad
Unraveling Life's Mysteries
She's Just Another Manic Mommy
Heir Apparent
Buried with Children
Burgh Baby

The story of how I met Arica starts in a dark dingy bar downtown. One night after several drinks I ran into her brother in said bar. We were acquaintances, but not much more. Somehow our pickled minds found their way to the topic of softball. Aaron said he was putting together a softball team. It would be a grand time. Was I interested? Of course I was. I love baseball and to some degree its ugly cousin softball. We agreed that I would join his mighty team.

A couple days later he called to see if I was still interested in playing. I had no recollection of the conversation from the bar. Our phone call went something like this.

He said, "This is Aaron. Do you still want to play softball."


Aaron: "Bobby's my old lady."

Me: "I know who you are. What was that you said about playing softball?"

Aaron: "You said you wanted to play softball with us this summer."

Me: "I don't remember that, but I do want to play softball."

It turns out no matter how much I drink I still know how to answer questions pertaining to athletic participation. Our league started and we were awful. It was a fun group of guys, but we absolutely stunk. One afternoon out of the blue Aaron called me up. He asked if I had a girlfriend. I didn't so he wanted to set me up with someone. I said OK. I will try anything once. Then he said the someone he wanted me to meet was his sister. That was certainly unexpected, but I was ready to meet her anyway.

We were scheduled to meet at one of our games. Before the game I was looking all around. I only saw one girl at our game. She was very pretty, but looked nothing like Aaron. I thought there is no way that is his sister. She doesn't look anything like him, and she is way too pretty to be setup with me. I gave up before the game even started.

Having decided she was not around I headed out quickly after the game. I was halfway across the parking lot when I hear Aaron panting and hollering my name. He ran up and asked if I wanted to meet his sister. That was the plan so we met.

Of course the beautiful blond at the game was Aaron's sister, Arica. At this point I put on one of the best shows of dorkiness ever witnessed. I can be a bit shy when meeting someone, especially someone of the opposite sex. Add to that the fact that her mother and brother were there for our first meeting. It had to be one of the worst first impressions ever made.

The next week we went on a date. A little over a year later we were married. George Costanza once said that all really great couples have a great meeting story. He reasoned that is why he never had a lasting relationship. Conversely that must be why things are working out so well for us. We have a meeting story that we will never forget.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Student Driver

Time for another edition of randomness. So far I have been calling this Random Thoughts Tuesday. Apparently it is supposed to be Random Tuesday Thoughts. Maybe my first random thought this week should be to wonder when I became dyslexic.


    • Recently I saw a student driver driving down the road at the normal five mph below the speed limit. Right behind the student driver was an angry tailgater. No doubt the poor pimpled kid was sweating bullets with hands firmly at two and ten. I wanted to congratulate the angry driver for giving that student the real life driving lesson that people are crazy.

    • The air conditioner in my truck has not worked since November 2007. I toughed out an entire summer in that sweat box. Over the weekend the heat index climbed into the mid 90's here in Arkansas. I am giving up. I went to the mechanic today. The hatred of sweating while riding in the car has finally won out over cheapness. Way to go cheapness you gave it a good run.

    • If your children ever come home and say I want to be an engineer when I grow up discourage them. If they seem determined then try to steer them towards driving trains. Trust me.

    • We played softball in our church league against a group of "ringers" last Friday. These people were supposed to be from our church, but only one of them actually attends. How desperate for approval do you need to be in order to recruit a great softball team to win the co-ed church league.

    • I wish I was the kind of guy who always carried a pocket knife. It would be tough for travelling, but otherwise quite handy.

    • We are currently rewatching season 1 of the Sopranos. We do things like this to fill in for lack of quality programming in the summer. I really believe that show was the greatest drama ever. We miss you Tony.

    • I went outside yesterday to find a four foot black snake on the driveway just outside my garage. I got my shovel, creeped up behind the vile creature, took aim, swung the shovel...and missed. The snake headed for my garage. I swung again and missed. This time I had swung so hard that I chipped the concrete. At this point I took aim for any part of the snake rather than the head just to stop its progress into my garage. I hit it in the back and it started coming for me. Then in one swift move I brought down the shovel and ended the serpent's reign of terror once and for all. I hit is so hard that I have a pool of blood on the driveway. I hope it stains because telling people that is a snake blood stain sounds really cool.

    • I figured if random thoughts were fun then a random picture of Braden would be even better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hold Me

It's another Monday at the office. I am not a big fan of Monday. I won't say that I have a case of the Monday's because, well that's just stupid. I have the same feelings about that term as the neighbor on Office Space. He says it best so I will let him sum up our feelings about the Monday's with the video below.

Monday is not too awful bad. I get to the office and have that first cup of coffee. I check out my fantasy sports teams and all the news I consider relevant. Some of that news could even be considered real news. When I am all good and cranked up I start my work. It may not be the most efficient way to start a work week, but it is my process.

Today rather than cranking up the old engineering machine I was thinking about this past weekend. What should I share about the two day vacation that has come and gone. I watched a lot of baseball Saturday. We went to church and to the lake on Sunday. Those things aren't really at the top of my list. The thing I keep remembering has to do with Braden.

He crawls all over the place now. Spending time with him is a lot like a wrestling match. I mean Olympic style wrestling not the WWE wrasslin' soap opera. Just like a wrestling match you start with Braden in the middle of the room. He wanders off into a corner or, following the wrestling analogy, goes off the mat. Then you bring him back to the middle to start over. It is a never ending process. Crawl away. Bring him back to start. Crawl away. Bring him back to start. Crawl away. Decide to let him go. He hits his head on something and starts screaming. I get in trouble, and so it continues.

Braden has been doing something new with his crawling. When he wants to be held he now crawls over to me or Arica. I think it is amazing to see his thought process. He actually wants something and knows how to get it. When Arica is on the floor he is constantly crawling all over her. He wants his Mommy to hold him pretty much all the time. I am sure it gets a little difficult for her. He hasn't really done it much to me. He would rather rough house with Dad than hug.

Sunday night Braden and I were in the living room. He looked across the room at me and started his journey. He crawled all the way over and up onto my legs as best he could. Then he looked at me with those big brown eyes as if to say hold me Daddy. Of course my heart melted, and I picked him up for a big hug. Little moments like that are worth more than gold.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Disagreed with Greed

As many of you know I am a huge Pearl Jam fan. I love their music and especially the singing of front man Eddie Vedder. Eddie and I couldn't be more different in our beliefs, but I have never looked to rock and roll for a role model. I like his music. His political leanings have no bearing on me.

Not long ago Eddie did his first solo album. He wrote and recorded the music for the film Into the Wild. One particular song entitled “Society” talks about the topic of greed and materialism. This song and in particular the words below are the inspiration for this post today.

We have a greed
With which we have agreed
And you think you have to
Want more than you need
Until you have it all
You won't be free
-Eddie Vedder
Everyone knows about greed. People familiar with the Bible know it as one of the seven deadly sins. People not familiar with those teachings are all too familiar with the damage greed can do as well.

The current financial situation was fueled by greed. The fat cats on Wall Street wanted more and more so they made riskier and riskier investments. Bankers all across the country wanted more and more so they made loans to all sorts of people regardless of credit. Even the people taking out the loans were greedy sometimes. Maybe they bought a house beyond their means because they felt they had to have it. This is not to say that every banker, financial advisor, broker, or home owner is guilty. The system worked in such a way that greed drove things to a breaking point. I know very little if anything about finances. I am an engineer that knows about physics and other exciting things like that, but I think everyone will agree with me that greed was a major culprit.

Corporate greed is not the type of greed that concerns me as a parent. Of course the financial collapse concerns me, but not from the point of view of raising my son. I am much more concerned about the rampant materialism in our society. Nothing is enough anymore. People must have big homes, fancy cars, boats, motorcycles, clothes, jewelry, and on and on. Many people want and want until they are in credit card hell.

Some degree of materialism affects everyone. I am certainly not above the fray. Right now I want a new fishing rod and a four wheeler. Sometimes I want a new video game or something else. This is simply a part of our human nature.

I believe that the ability to be satisfied with what you have can bring a great deal of happiness into someone's life. Being thankful and content is quite a blessing. I am not saying that we shouldn't want nice things. Buying a new car is definitely not a punishable offense. I do think, however, the constant desire for something more that leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness is damaging.

I want to teach Braden to enjoy the things he has been given. He will always want toys and other fun things, but hopefully I can teach him to accept it when he is denied. I want to raise a kid that is content with his family, friends, and the things he has. I have no idea how to go about doing this. There is no great plan in the works, and I know it won't be easy. The effort will be worth it though, because success means Braden will grow up to be a better adjusted, happier person. Hopefully he will grow up to be the type of person who gives to others rather than lining his own pockets.

I have not always been the best role model for this type behavior, but fatherhood is helping me learn in a hurry.
Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Travelling the Globe: Ipoh Malaysia

It's time once again to travel the globe with me. This time our travels take us to the far off land of Malaysia. Our company has a fabricator in the big city of Ipoh, Malaysia that we use for some of our overseas installations. I have been there twice. The last time was in 2005. These are my memories mostly from that trip.

Before we get to Ipoh I must mention that I have spent one night in Kuala, Lumpur or KL to travellers. We had to spend a night there before catching a short flight to Ipoh on our last trip. Our hotel was at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers. They are the largest twin towers in the world and can be seen in the movie Entrapment. They are very impressive. Now on to Ipoh.

PRO: The population of Ipoh is at least 75% Chinese. The Chinese food here is amazing, and certainly was the best I have ever had. I had some type of fried chicken once that I still remember fondly. My search through the US has never revealed anything like it.

CON: It is HOT! You may not be aware but Arkansas is very humid in the summer. It is dreadful, but humidity in Southeast Asia gives new meaning to the word.

PRO: Dim Sum breakfast at an outdoor market complete with dozens of dumplings and other treats washed down with hot Chinese tea. I know many of my PRO's are in the food category. Leave me alone. I like to eat.

CON: Eating a dumpling with chopsticks is very hard. Our host finally told me to just stab the dumpling. I tried and failed. My dumpling jumped off my plate and across the table. You gotta love us Americans.

PRO: We got to visit a Buddhist cave temple that was very cool. It had an elaborate entrance and several huge buddha statues inside what was simply a limestone cave.

CON: The first time I visited Ipoh we sat down to eat and everyone was given chopsticks. At this point in my life I had no idea how to use them. Thankfully I have since learned. When I got my chopsticks I said, "I am going to starve to death if I have to use these." Such manners. I was rewarded with a plate, fork, and spoon.

PRO: Food is served family style. It is like a Chinese buffet right at your own table. One of the restaurants even had a table where the middle spun around to help you serve yourself.

CON: I was stuck there during the 2005 National League Championship series. The Cardinals were playing the Houston Astros for a chance to get to the World Series. I did get to see bits and pieces of the broadcast in the mornings, but it was terrible for me to miss the big games. By the way the Cardinals lost.

PRO: At the cave temple there were about 20 monkeys hanging out in this little garden. They were very close. It is always cool to see monkeys just hanging around like squirrels do here in the US.

CON: The Ipoh international airport is the smallest I have ever been to in all my travels. The pilot actually warned us the landing might be bumpy becasue the runway is not long enough for a 737 and he would have to get down and stop fast. It wasn't bad, but when we got on the ground there were 20 or 30 people lined up watching us through the fence. I am not real comfortable with my landings being the top entertainment in town.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fatherhood Lessons with Homer Simpson: Playing with Your Kids

Sometimes I am lost for blogworthy ideas about fatherhood. Inspiration is fleeting and I don't know where to turn. Much of my inspiration comes from TV or music. Greater men are probably inspired by historical figures like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. Others may be inspired by great authors or scientific studies, but that is not me. As Popeye says, "I am what I am." And I am inspired by Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Vedder, and sometimes even Homer Simpson.

Today's post will be a lesson from Homer about toys and playing with our kids. Watch the video and then read on for my dissection of Homer's teachings.

The first lesson here is that Dads should play with their kids as much as possible. One of our main jobs as fathers is to be the entertainment director for our children. The best way to do that is get right down on the floor with them. Get in their little world and play with their toys. There is no substitute for time spent with your children so follow Homer's lead and start playing.

The second lesson we can learn from Homer is that we don't have to buy the most expensive toys for our kids. If you have the means to buy every toy in the store then by all means do it. Kids, however, are not always entertained or occuppied with a toy box full of toys. Sometimes you have to use other things around the house for entertainment. I use water bottles and the remote control nearly every day. A box works great as well. As any parent knows, kids often like the box, bow, or wrapping paper much more than the actual gift that is found inside. Apply this theory to your everyday play time. I read yesterday over at my friend PJ's blog Real Men Drive Mini Vans that he recently used a box to lure his son back into the play area. He wondered if he was a bad father. I say heck no. You are a great dad.

Finally a lesson for all us dad's that are really just big kids. Never let the joy of playing with toys again lead you to an unhealthy attachment to said toys. We should never runaway with our kids toys like a crazed Homer hiding under the box. I know it is a great amount of fun to play with your kids. Sometimes I admit to having too much fun with Braden's toys and he is only a baby. I am sure I will get more than carried away when he gets older. I already covet the little Star Wars figures I see in Wal-Mart. No matter how much fun we have let's always remember it's about the kids.

My thanks to Homer Simpson for departing his wisdom on us today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Random Thoughts Tuesday: Cow Gate

I don't have the mind for observational humor today. I haven't had it for some time. Engineering keeps trying to beat me down. Instead of having interesting comments on my surroundings, I am completely wrapped up in shipping dates, drawing revisions, requisitions, and quotes. Frankly I would rather be wrapped up in an old rug and tossed into the lake. Now that we have that cleared up lets move on to a few topics for Random Thoughts Tuesday.


  • We purchased our first child deterrent gate this past weekend. It is a massive six footer to block the only exit from the living room. We didn't have a lot of options for gates to cover that width. What we have is a swinging gate that reminds both Arica and myself of a cattle gate. I know nothing about cows except that they taste good. I did deer hunt as a kid on some land that had cows. We had to go through several gates and my job was to open and close the gates so Dad could drive through. Every time I walk through the new Braden gate I am tempted to close it behind me so the cows don't get out.

  • We have a massive fly infestation in our back yard. My feeling is that our dogs crap too much. I try to scoop the poop, but I can't keep up. The flies always come back. For any Aerosmith fans out there I even try to sing my scoop the poop song along to the rhythm of the old tune Eat the Rich. No matter how hard you try to lighten the mood scooping up dog crap is no fun. You can sing it to the tune of anything and it is still animal waste removal. I hate flies.

  • Braden is still using his walker. We haven't had any fiery explosions yet either. He has one walker at our house that he uses to travel backwards. He can barely reach the floor with one foot so he hasn't mastered the art of motivation in that one yet. He has another walker at Arica's mom's house. He can get both feet on the ground in that one. Sunday afternoon he even started walking forward. We are only a few short weeks from the day when I can strap a sled behind that dude and ride around the house.

  • I will probably jinx everything, but Braden has slept through the night without waking five nights in a row. He has slept until 8 am three of those nights and until 7 and 6:30 the other two. This development is bordering on the same level as discovering plutonium or striking oil in our bedroom. It is very exciting at least until Braden hears about this post.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kids Wearing Hats

When I was a kid I always wore a hat. People said it would make me go bald, but that didn't deter me. We couldn't wear hats at school. I didn't wear a hat to church or the dinner table. Any other time I was wearing a hat. When I say hat I mean what some people call a ball cap. I didn't wear fedoras or any other type of hat with a funny name.

I guess I got this from my dad. He always wore a hat too. Growing up in a farming community hats were as much a part of the male wardrobe as blue jeans or underwear. Farmers are notorious hat wearing people. They get them free from John Deere or the seed company or the rice mill or somewhere else. I say they are free. Last I checked a big John Deer combine cost a few hundred thousand dollars so free is a relative term.

I started collecting hats for some reason. It seemed like as good a thing as any to collect. Why are stamps and coins any better than hats. I got a hat from everywhere I went. I bought twenty different hats to wear. I was like a woman with her shoes. I had a hat for every mood. It was out of control. I never counted my hats, but surely I had 100. Eventually I threw them out and got my addiction under control.

I still wear a hat a lot of the time. This summer I am playing softball. I play co-ed church league which is not exactly at the top of the competitive ladder. It's still a lot of fun to get out and play. Of course for softball games I must wear a hat. After all it is called a ball cap. To be like his daddy Braden got his first ball cap last week. He wore it to my softball game this weekend. Surprisingly he didn't seem to mind the hat. He wasn't always trying to take it off and cast it away. He looked good in a hat, and I am sure he will wear them right along with me through his youth.

I only hope this early affinity for hats doesn't mean he will have an unhealthy obsession with them like his old man.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summertime is Awesome

Arica likes to tease me about my use of the word awesome. It's not so much the word but the vigor with which I espouse it. It's not awesome, but AWE-some! No matter how it sounds summertime truly is AWE-some!

When I was a kid I lived for the summer. Every day of school was just one more obstacle standing in my way. The countdown started on the first day of class. I always dreamed of the day that final bell would ring, and we could all dance out the doors singing "School's out for summer!" Of course as a child I didn't know any Alice Cooper songs, but I was probably singing something.

In the Summer I spent a lot of my time at the country club pool and playing baseball. Of course you couldn't do both in the same day. Swimming was not allowed on game days. It might tire you out, and everyone knows that baseball games are more important than practicing your cannonballs.

Once I finished school summer lost some of its pizazz. I still like the lake, and the warm weather, but I have to work every day. I think we should adopt the August is vacation for everyone plan like several European countries. I can tell you from personal experience that it is futile to try to get any work done during August in Italy.

This summer should be different for our family. It is our first time enjoying summer with a child. Just this week Braden took his first trip to the pool. We don't have a pool unless you count that blue plastic thing the dogs wallow in to escape the summer heat. None of our relatives have a pool either, but we are resourceful. We know someone with a pool, and who is going to tell this guy he can't swim in their pool.

Braden loved the pool. At first he sat on the steps in the water. He splashed the water repeatedly with his hands. When he got some water on his face he gasped and and made a hilarious grimace. It didn't stop him though. Without even waiting for Mom to wipe him off he started splashing again.

Then he transferred to the inflatable crab. It's a floaty he can sit in with his legs in the water. There is a tray in front that fills with water so he can splash. Of course there is also the ever important canopy to protect the little man from the evil sun. Truthfully the sun had no chance. Between the canopy, his big green hat, and the SPF 75 sunblock he stayed nice and white.

Summertime at our house also means going to the lake. Arica and I love to take my little fishing boat out on the weekends. We anchor on some island all alone. Actually we aren't all alone because our wild dogs are running everywhere. This is their favorite pastime as well. Otter fetches sticks until he nearly drowns. Abbey sits in the water but prefers not to swim. Arica and I enjoy a little relaxation, swimming, and usually a picnic lunch.

We aren't comfortable bringing Braden to the lake in my tiny boat. Maybe sometime this summer we will get together with friends and take him out on a party barge. Either way he has a long future of lake visits ahead of him. Living in a town with a lake makes the whole experience more relaxing. You don't have to hurry. You don't have to go on the busiest days. You don't have to find a hotel. All you do is have fun.

This is what I want to teach Braden. I want to teach him how to live a life of summertime fun. I never pictured myself as a local in a tourist town. Now that this is a reality I feel the need to pass on the lifestyle to my son. I have the Jimmy Buffet CD in the stereo. I have my assorted flip flops lined up for action. The swimming trunks and various shades of khaki shorts are washed and ready. All we need now is the care free attitude.

Braden, It's time to enjoy the summer, and you can bring your green hat.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Life Before Computers

I long ago wrote a post called Life before the Internet. Most of you haven't read it so feel free to check it out now. In the post I offer the idea that the Internet has changed our life more than any other invention. It has touched all walks of life, but where would the Internet be without its old friend the computer. Sure you can get online on anything from PlayStations to cell phones these days, but the personal computer is still the main device for accessing the Internet.

Braden's fascination with our laptop is endless. He always wants to watch it when it is on. Lately he has become much more aggressive. Arica says he will literally climb on top of the keyboard if he gets the chance.

How can I explain to someone who was introduced to the computer in the first few months of life that we used to live without these magical machines. Certainly Braden will look at me like I sprouted a second head, but he will hear the story nonetheless.

I still remember when we got our first "computer" at my parents house. We were all stunned by the massive computing power of the Commodore 64. I had a baseball game that I played over and over again. The only thing you did was tell the hitters to hit or run and the computer created the rest. It was not a very good game but I loved it. It had the names of all the 1982 Cardinals making it the first sports game I ever played that had real players names and stats. I guess that was a window into the sports gaming world that I grew to love.

I went on to high school many years later and the Commodore 64 was still part of my life. I actually took a computer literacy class using that ancient relic. The lessons learned were about as useful as dinosaur herding or Beta Max repair. As I am typing this I am still amazed.

I then went on to college to find that some people were already on this world wide web thing. I was quickly expected to use Microsoft Word and Excel. Before I knew it we were programming in Matlab and C++. The computer had become a integral part of my life as an engineering student. All this happened only a few short years after the Commodore era. That is how fast this technology thing happens. You get caught up and swept away.

As for Braden computers will always be as much a part of his life as me and Arica. They are as commonplace as electricity and running water. He loves to look at the screen already and no doubt will love the computer for years to come. When there are such wonderful blogs out there and pictures of such good looking babies, who can blame him?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Favorite Post

Apparently I have been less than random for a few weeks. That must be why I haven't put together one of these posts. I don't like being orderly so let's get back to it with another Random Tuesday Thoughts.


  • During the second game of a softball double header Friday night I heard an 18 year old kid complain that he was tired from playing his third straight game. Good thing I was too tired to punch him in the head. It is church league softball after all.
  • Braden has nearly mastered crawling. Now the sound track of my life sounds something like this: "No don't grab that. Where are you going? Come back here. I told you you couldn't have that. Please be still. Arica Help!"
  • I know the title is Random Tuesday Thoughts. I guess that's because Tuesday and Thoughts have a little alliteration thing going. I am much more random on Monday though. It is like my weekend mind is fighting with my rational work mind. Sometimes the fight goes the distance.
  • Will Ferrell is going to be on Man vs. Wild tonight. The pairing of crazy adrenaline junky survivalist Bear Grylls and crazy insane comedian Will Ferrell is quite possibly a stroke of genius. I am beyond excited.
  • I have a Dwight Schrute bobblehead on my desk. That makes me cool, right?
  • My office ran out of post-it notes. That's like a river running out of fish or the ocean running out of salt. How can this happen?
  • My elderly neighbor called us last week to share that a snake was in her yard heading our way. She doesn't miss anything.
  • I watched some episodes of Nature's Most Amazing Events on the Discovery Channel this weekend. Based on the show about Salmon I am starting to get worried that we may run out of delicious Pacific Salmon one day. To help sustain the Salmon population I ask the local Eskimos, Canadians, and Alaskans to please start eating more Grizzly bears.
After all that randomness I have a request for my readers. A few mom bloggers have asked to feature me or at least spotlight my little blog on Father's Day. Some have asked for links to my favorite posts. I don't have any idea which ones to choose. If you have a favorite please leave it in the comments section. I am too lazy to create a poll so I hope you all have a good memory. If you need ideas just look at the posts listed on the left of the page under each month. I would love to know which of my efforts you find least repulsive. Thanks.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Travelling the Globe: St. Leonard de Noblat, France

Two Monday's ago I posted about experiencing new things. The main topic of this post was my travels to foreign countries. I received a lot of comments about that post, especially for a Monday. It was apparent to me that everyone either liked to travel or would like to travel. Based on that information I decided to post from time to time about some cities and countries I have visited.

My plan is for these posts to offer a few pros and cons from the places I've been. The pros and cons will be random things based on my experience. You won't read pros like the Eiffel Tower was cool or the Louvre had a lot of artwork. It will be much smaller off the wall things that I feel the rest of the world must know. The Travel channel will not tell you this stuff people. Somebody has to do it, and that somebody might as well be me.

Our first installment of travelling the globe will be about France. Specifically this post is about St. Leonard de Noblat, France. It is a small town located in the center of France near Limoges in case you need to look it up for visualization purposes. Without further ado here are my notes from France.

PRO: The best thing about the entire visit to France was ordering a Royale with Cheese from McDonald's.

CON: Every meal was a formal affair. The food was good but who wants to eat off fine china and drink from the crystal stemware every night. You may not know this but champagne, fine china, waiters with tuxes, bread crumb sweepers, and artistic looking food every night can have an adverse affect on your sanity. My boss and I had to skip out and go to a local pizza joint or McDonald's once or twice a week to get a break.

PRO: There was a grocery store across the street from the hotel. They sold tall boy cans of German beer for about 30 cents a can. I always kept a few in my room.

CON: There was no refrigerator for the German beer in my room.

PRO: It was really cold outside so I sat my beers on the window ledge to keep them cool. After work a cold one was always waiting.

CON: One of my trips required me to get off the plane in Paris after an overnight flight and about an hour of sleep and drive to the plant. That is a five hour drive on no sleep through Paris traffic in a stick shift. I drive a stick shift about once every two or three years whether I need to or not. This is not a recommended travel procedure.

PRO: I bought some french lip balm for the extremely chapped lips I inherited from working outside in the cold twelve hours a day. I used it for a few days before I left. Arica claimed it when I got home and said it was the best lip moisturizing product ever. She lost it and found it again not to long ago. She finally used it all, but it was definitely the chapstick that kept on giving.

CON: The crappy exchange rate of dollars to euros caused me to pay $6 for the aforementioned lip balm. The exchange rate made buying everything from cheeseburgers to gasoline painful.

PRO: I got paid to visit France. That may not be the best pro, but I am running out of things that you might find interesting. Let's just say I put this in here to keep things fair and balanced. I don't want any angry Frenchmen after me.

CON: French people have a certain reputation around the world. Although I made several friends while I was there I found that for the most part the reputation had been earned.