Friday, July 31, 2009

Growing Up in Casa de la Pack Rat

I grew up in Casa de la Pack Rat, and it has strongly molded my personality. It was a house where very little was discarded. Because of this, as an adult I really tend to hold on to very little. This really bothers certain family members of mine that want to pass things on to me to give to my offspring to give to their offspring to give to their offspring, and so on. I don’t like the weight, the emotional weight, of it. I guess it is entirely possible that my children may resent me one day for not holding onto that piece of driftwood from my trip to the ocean back in 1984 or for boxing up and saving every picture they drew. It may even sadden them to know that I loved looking at every single picture they drew but that almost all swiftly made it to the recycle bin. I do keep some; I’m not THAT bad. In fact, I show my love and admiration of their work by displaying them in my house, such as over my mantle (see picture below). I even have a short stack of images that I plan on scanning to save a virtual copy so that the original can be turned into some recycled paper towel somewhere.


Back to Casa de la Pack Rat… Very much in the way sprinkles cling to cupcakes, my house growing up clung to piles of magazines. Piles. Every failed car, appliance, or electronic gizmo could not be tossed because WE MIGHT NEED A PIECE FROM ONE OF THEM SOME DAY. You know how it is written as a law somewhere that if you own a big chunk of land in some rural area, you have to have old, beat up cars in one corner of your property? Yeah, I lived in a big city, and our backyard still had 4 or 5 car bodies in one corner.

The house owners (notice I am trying really hard not to name any names here) had a huge room added on to the back of the house, which eventually looked like this:


In this picture I have blurred the face of the man that I happen to be closely genetically related to. I am doing this because it is not my intent to hurt anyone’s feelings, but rather explore why I get physically depressed if my house is cluttered for more than a day or so. Seriously. I have heard many times that if you spend a lot of time cleaning your house, you will look back and regret not spending that time playing with your children. The thing is I CAN’T PLAY WITH MY CHILDREN WHEN MY HOUSE IS MESSY. Well, OVERLY messy. Sure, I could hang out with them, but I’D BE CRYING. No amount of anti-depressants could cure me of this quirk. So, I work hard to keep my house picked up – not perfect – and manageable. THEN I play.

I had problems with clutter when I was a kid too. It would get to me so badly that I would gather gizmos, stacks of magazines, and doo-dads throughout the house and put them right in the doorway to the room described above. I would gather up enough things to stack in such a way that the owner of said gizmos and doo-dads would have to do something with them to get into his room. If I didn’t make it high enough or deep enough, they would just get stepped over, defeating my purpose - DO SOMETHING WITH YOUR CRAP JUNK PRIZED POSESSIONS.

My hope is that my children will grow up seeing that their father and I keep what we can honor and that they will understand and appreciate that we don’t hold onto things for the sake of holding on to them. It is also my most sincere hope that gene de la pack rat does not simply skip a generation.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

4 Days In and… Nuthin’

We are on day 4 of our personal challenge, and I have to say things haven’t been too tough yet. In fact, it has been rather easy. I’m sort of disappointed that there hasn’t been any kind of introspection on what things really mean, or any kind of cathartic release coming with the scrapping of ancient things that had weighed us down. It does however, feel damn good to be getting rid of things. Things that I don’t use. (Charger plates from Target.) Things that I thought I might use but have been covered in dust for several years. (Hanging vases.) Things that were parts to something else long ago gone (um, can you say vacuum cleaner parts for a vacuum we haven’t had in over a year?). Hello.

What does this say to me? We still have way too much crap! That’s what it says! I’m hoping I don’t go through the entire challenge and find that it in fact was not a challenge. I hope that after a few more days I will really struggle with what is important to me. I can’t speak for Greg however, but I think he may be feeling the same way. After all, he counted 4 hard drives as one thing yesterday. Boooyah!

So far, it’s like cleanin’ house. Here is what we’ve collected so far:


It’s not like Greg hasn’t upped the ante for me either. I took a trip to Ikea yesterday and brought home a bunch of stuff. Greg informed that for everything I brought into the house, something else had to go. IN ADDITION TO MY 100 THINGS. Given the state of the “challenge” so far, I can safely say, “no problem.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

20 Days. 100 Things. Each.

Recently Greg ran across this blog that chronicled one man’s journey to whittle down his personal possessions to a meager 100 things and live with no more than those 100 things for one year. It was with a slightly open interpretation because he did things like count his skivvies as one item. Otherwise he’d either be really stinky or using up precious resources doing laundry all of the time. Remember those “what’s grosser than gross jokes” that were rampant during middle school? What’s grosser than throwing your dirty undies against the wall and watching them slide down? Seeing them crawl back up. Yeah, he would have been living proof that could happen if he had to count each pair of undies as one item during his challenge.

Anyway, Greg and I were inspired by his Eff You Consumerism dare, but since there is no way in hell we could reduce the amount of shit we have to just 100 items, we put a spin on it. Seriously, with our two pack-rat kids, we are  lucky to get out of the door and into the car each day with ONLY 100 things! I suggested we try and reduce the amount of things we each have by 100. I kind of cheated and got Greg on a day when he had mentioned he was ready to purge some more of his dust collectors. He agreed. So, yay!

Here is what I am thinking the rules need to be:

  1. Every day for 20 days we will each pick 5 items to chuck.
  2. We can’t pick from each other’s shit to increase our discard count. As much as I, ahem, I mean we, might like to.
  3. We can’t get our panties in a bunch if the other person picks something we gave them as a present.
  4. Since the point is to reduce, we can’t count each wire, each connector, or each piece of unused scrapbook paper as one thing. If that were the case, we could be done in about 10 seconds. Bundling rules apply.

I think that about sums it up. Today is day 1. If you don’t hear from me soon, have someone come and look for me in our storage cabinets. I’m most certainly trapped under something very heavy and very dusty.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Plaster of Paris Anyone?

I learned today that the person who invented toilet seat covers was either an Eskimo or likely lived in a climate that never exceeds 80 degrees. Perhaps its just a nasty prank to give the dying inventor the last laugh.

It's hot here. Not Las Vegas 120 degree hot, but 101 degrees of pure "dry heat". Dry my sweaty ass. It's hot and it makes me sweat and not in all the pleasant places like ... well, is sweat pleasant anywhere?

So today I learned that I should never, I repeat NEVER use a toilet seat cover when my backside is anything but babypowder dry. Why? It's the secret ingredient, plaster of paris.

Perhaps this is something everyone else already new, but today I realize why I prefer to use my own gasket free toilet at home. I felt like I was peeling off a really good layer of skin after a nasty sunburn, one small thin strip at a time. When that quit working there I was leaning over and brushing little rolly polly wads of paper off my backside. How long I stood there doing this I couldn't tell you. I can tell you two other gentleman used the stall next to me and three others used the urinals AND DIDN'T WASH THEIR HANDS!

I just need to learn the hover style that women use and I guess I would be ok.

Why I Suck

OK, I am a loser.

Why the self slamming? Well, I talk about how much I enjoy writing but have done none of it lately. I haven’t written a friggin’ word. Instead I am trying to find words in that stupid “Word Challenge” game on Facebook. It is sucking the writing life out of me. I play game after game after game with the hope of not looking like a word loser. But after making what feels like an infinite number of attempts at getting a decent score, I feel like a big, fat vocab neophyte.

Which leads me to breaking the proverbial ice. I am writing a nonsensical entry just to get my ass going again. Can I blame Facebook for my lack of blogging lately? I SO wish that I could, but it is my own damn fault for taking such a hiatus. I think the two or three extra readers we picked up lately threw me into shock and I was so worried about being funny in my posts that I stopped writing altogether. Now I can breath a sigh of relief and start up again because THEY ARE ALL GONE!

Even though I enjoy the creative and cathartic nature of writing, anytime I had some free time I slept. Or played Spider Solitaire. Or played that gawd-awful Facebook time-suck of a game that makes you feel stupid. It’s not from a lack of things to write about either. Even with an abundance of topics (it IS crazy around here), the only time I actually wrote something lately was when I was given the honor of writing a guest post over at Logical Libby’s site! Nothing like an assignment to get the ole fingers typing! I’m trying to get over the sting of the slap of only getting THREE comments. Compared to her 10+ usual comments, I felt SO not funny.

Oh for the love of the FSM, I sound like such a whiner. That is not my point. My point was just to say that rather than challenging myself, I stopped writing. Bad, bad blogger. But, dear reader, (yes, you -the one) I’m BAAAAACK! Thank you for sticking with me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Love, American Style

Time to get back to the real world.  After several weeks (yes, 3 weeks) of vacation this weekend marks the end of a work free period. How was it spent? One week spent on the ocean coast, a long drive up, a new (used, but new to me) Westfalia named Stella, a day spent crabbing in Waldport with friends, a trip to the worlds largest sea cave full of sea lions, a 14.5 hour drive home with only one stop due to overheating, a couple days in the woods, and a day at Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe. Now I am roaring to get back to work.
Maybe not. Work is overrated.  While gone I apparently survived another round of layoffs (thank you FSM). I will let you know Monday first thing. If things go really bad, I will always have a van to live in.  Most likely park it down by the river.
Meet Stella.  The newest member of our family.  Isn’t she HOT.  That’s right, the A/C doesn’t work. 

I am thinking I might need a beer right about now and seeing as our fridge decided to die just as the vacation ended I have a cooler of beer sitting next to me so it will take zero effort.  I might have to make this a permanent edition to the living room (over Susanne’s dead body most likely). Anyone for a PBR?  Yeah, not my beer either, but as Eric “The Piano Mover Man” Holden never was able to complete the piano moving I managed to drink the 12 pack he never picked up. I have to say, it does make a nice summer beer.
Damn, I have been away from this laptop for so long, can you help me…is this thing on?
Am I this thing on?
So if you are one of the 10 readers (not regular readers, but just one of the 10 people who read this blog) you noticed that our family took a vacation to the Oregon coast. We rented a house on the ocean (no, I won’t recommend it, the house, I highly recommend the ocean) of Seal Rock Oregon, just south of Newport or North of Waldport, depending on your sense of direction.  It was newly on the rental market because apparently the old lady who lived there just died.  Who’s kidding. Susanne likes to correct me every time I make that joke, but the chalk mark outline on the kitchen floor proved I was right.  They really should have cleaned up a bit first.  I mean, they lady’s slippers were still in the closet. True story.  I’m not making this stuff up. Maybe some of it, the house wasn’t RIGHT on the ocean.
So what was this blog about? Oh yeah, Love, American Style.  Well, there was no loving this vacation, I mean for Susanne and I.  Jake did sneak out a lot so who knows what he got into (so to speak) but the kids were sleeping in our room at the rental because the beds in the loft at 50 feet above sea level and 14 feet above the 2nd floor weren’t exactly child safe.  So, the kids “slept” in a mattress on our bedroom floor.  Sleeping being loosely used here of course.
Let me demonstrate.

Now I don’t want you thinking that our vacation was love free.  It was full of love.  My kids gave me lots of love.  My wife loved the ocean. I loved not being at work and best of all, I loved having my family together. Oh, and there was Wine love.
Additionally we had all sorts of interesting conversations regarding love.  My favorite one occurred on the trip up.  There we were heading up into Oregon. The kids watching “Swan Princess” (a story of true love) and Jacob texting his girlfriend in Washington (long distance love) when Susanne comes over a hill and smack dab in the middle of the road is a dead squirrel and another standing over it (lost love).
“Oh, that is so sad. That poor squirrel lost the love of his life!” she says.
“That’s one way to look at it,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe he was eating her?”

Friday, July 10, 2009

Why We Couldn’t Live In a Fireworks State

Why, you ask, could we not live in a state that legally sells fireworks? Because my family is a bunch of pyromaniacs! Seriously, give them a wick and a match and they’ll think they just won the lottery. This is especially true of Greg. I had to put a pan under his chin as we drove around Oregon. If you listened carefully, you’d hear the drip, drip, drip of his drool every time we passed a side-of-the-road Fireworks Depot. And there were a lot of them. Subsequently, there was a LOT of drool.

The night of July 4th, we went to the bay in Newport to watch the big fireworks show. We showed up a few hours early, unsure of whether or not Greg would have to fight to get close enough to feed his fix of fireworks fumes. We staked claim at a perfect spot on the edge of the bay, right near the Rogue brewery. In case the fireworks fumes didn’t feed his olfactory needs, the hops ones would.

Only one problem. It was the foggiest night of our entire trip. And I mean the kind of fog where you wonder if you should have put a GPS signal on the car for fear of never seeing it again. This was our view of the bay:


At first we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to see the fireworks, but then we discovered we had nothing to worry about. We were smack dab in the middle of a whole slew of people with the same drive to watch something explode as Greg. The kids had a blast (literally) with the fireworks Greg snuck out and bought. Check out the look on Braedyn’s face! He’s all, “yeah, I could do this for a living.” Well, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!


I guess I can’t say it was ALL fun. For Emily I’d say it was about 3 parts fun, 1 part fear:


Speaking of fear, Greg lit a little bomb-type firework (hey, I don’t know the word – I’m NOT the junkie!). It went off just as a poor gentleman walked by - a poor gentleman who happened to be a Vietnam veteran. He was a good sport about it, so I’d say it was about 2 parts fun, 2 parts fear for him. You can see him walking unaware of what lay ahead just over Greg’s right elbow in this shot:


Some mischievous peeps started lighting Class C fireworks only about 15 yards behind us in some RV parking. These, I had to be informed, are the big-big fireworks that are used in the shows and which happen to be illegal in Oregon. Well, I’m glad these bad-boys-bad-boys-whatcha-gonna-do brought and lit these because the fireworks we had come to see hadn’t started by 10:30 pm. The kids were about to pass out, either from exhaustion or from the exhaust. Either way, we had to pack it up.

Even though we didn’t get to see the “official” show of Newport, we really enjoyed ourselves, largely because the community of pyros was such a welcoming and fun crowd.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My GPSed track


Have a look at my new track:

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 3, 2009

How Lame

I spent 40 minutes, 40 minutes of my vacation I won't get back, writing, copying/pasting images into an ail to be autoposted only to have them not show in the post.


But I still love my iPhone.

Sent from my iPhone

Reality Show Needs Funding

I'm on vacation typing this my phone so excuse the brevity and formatting.

I do enjoy my job, but seriously folks, how can you NOT want to sit and do this all day, every day.

If some crazy ass T.V. Exec wants to take me up on this and put me up in a beach house, make me indepently wealthy and see how long I can do absolutely nothing every day, I am up for the challenge. Viewers of "Beach Bum" will likely findy my daily adventures of beach combing, photoraphing tide pools and watching the fog rolling in RIVETING.

Viewers WON'T see me doing Tai Chi in the mist. Look very carefully. The dot dead center where beach meets water is the Oregon Mist Tai Chi monster. Expending that much energy scares the living daylights out of me.

I couldn't run though, I was too busy being lazy.

Sent from my iPhone