Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pestering about Puppies

My parents brought home a wiener dog puppy when I was 8 years old.  That was a pretty happy day for the Pope kids.  Right up there with the day we went to see Return of the Jedi or when my parent bought the Thriller album.  We (my parents) have had dogs ever since.  I’ve been a parent now for almost 15 years and we’ve never had a dog.  I’m pretty sure every kid, ever, wants a dog (or at least some sort of animal that isn’t an older brother who hasn’t discovered deodorant yet).  For several years, my girls, Sydney in particular, have been making subtle and not-so-subtle requests for us to “adopt-a-pet.”  This usually looks like this:

Syd: “Dad, can you do the password on the computer?”

Me:  “Why”

Syd: “So I can look for dogs.”

Me:  “But we aren’t getting a dog.”

Syd:  (after looking down and a little bit sad) – “But I just wanna look, they’re so cute!”

Me:  (typing the password) “You can look, but we aren’t getting one.”

Syd:  (several minutes of searching later) “Dad, I found the perfect dog for us and it’s only $100 and it’s hypoallergenic and it’s housetrained and it’s just a few miles away and it needs a home and it would be perfect for us!”

Me:  (slowly limbering to the computer) “Yep, it’s cute, but we’re not getting a dog.”

This is a conversation we’ve had, pretty much verbatim, roughly 300 times over the last three years.  About half the time I pick up my phone there’s an open web page with pictures of adorable dogs that need homes with important statistics like vaccination status and current progress on house training.  (These are two items I hope my daughter factors into her dating research as well.)

The efforts to convince the parental units that we need a dog have ramped up for some reason over the last few weeks.  (this is strangely related to some cat-sitting that my daughter did over the holiday)  Now this is easily the #1 topic at our house and she’s successfully co-opted all of her siblings as demonstrated by this signed document I found on my pillow a few nights ago, which is literally, a declaration:

WP_20140112_001 (1)

You’ll notice that the two signatures that matter aren’t there just yet.  Let’s be real though, it’s only a matter of time.  Our kids have learned that their parents can certainly be beaten into submission through repeated “reminders” of what the kids “need.”

We’ll hold out for a while, no doubt, but I suspect one day one of those internet puppies is going to have an accident in our family room and I’ll be cleaning things up because I eventually, I usually do what I’m told…

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Irrational Underwear, Sweatpants, and Hours Lost Staring at a Bed Covered with Paper

I guess I'll go ahead and acknowledge that I used to write a blog every once in a while.  If you're reading this you may remember those days.  You'd think that after roughly two and a half years of not posting I'd have kinda lost the love of the blog, but it's still there somewhere.  Life's happened, lots of it.  But it seems like the world moved to less than 140 characters and I kinda filled blog time with other stuff.  Over the last couple years a handful of folks (fun mental image) have actually encouraged me to start things up again.  Those people are really awesome.  No promises that this is the start of a huge new run of hourly priceless posts, but it's a new year and I'm finding that I'm needing a creative outlet and a way to connect, at least virtually, with other people.  On that note…

Having too much phlegm in your throat for too long really bites.

I don't think I get sick more often than an average dude my age, but well, I just wrapped up a month of an annoying URI (this is either Upper Respiratory Infection or Underwear Reacting Irrationally)  During this little stretch of Chest Funk (good name for a rock band) I found myself at "Urgent Care" 3 separate times.  To be clear, I tried to go see my real doctor, but they were too busy for my little issue, so they said to go to the walk-in place.  I think they should change the name to something other than Urgent Care.  It sounds way too much like the Emergency Room and makes me feel like there should be actual blood coming out of me or a non-beating heart or something strong to justify strolling in there.  I decided that wearing sweat pants made it look like I was in urgent need of help.  Here are a few more observations from the many long hours I spent there:

  • On my multiple visits I was quickly trained to put on one of those “Bird Flu imageMasks”, which actually made me feel like I was sicker than I probably was.  Also, breathing through those masks with glasses on doesn’t work very well if you want to, you know, see stuff.
  • Apparently the folks there are really keen to know when my birthday is.  Everyone who worked there kept asking me over and over, so I’m pretty sure I’m getting something awesome for my next big day
  • Instead of calling it the “Urgent Care Office” they should call it the “Substantially Understaffed With Trained Doctors Office”
  • Thanks to the Mrs. HTF, I learned the trick that the best way to not spend the entire day there is to arrive really early, like before the office opens, and be the first one to check in.  This also allowed me to turn on turn on the Today Show.  I dig me the Orange Room.
  • Having the nurse call your name kinda feels like a victory, but then they lead me back to the examination room, asked a few probing questions, and left me there to die.  My average time sitting alone on a wooden stool staring at a bed covered with butcher paper was over an hour.  Although it felt more like the time it takes to watch 3 or 4 Harry Potter movies.  As I sat there thinking about being sick, I actually got sicker.  At least I was able to put on a good show when the doc finally materialized.

Yeah, I eventually got better, but I think the time spent being cared for urgently probably made my little sickness last longer.  I’m still thankful that I can go see a doctor when I need to, but my next visit to that place I’m bringing my tablet, my own proper gas mask, and a little name card that tells everyone my birthdate, so they can get me some good stuff.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Wife’s Various Run-ins with the Law This Weekend

Saturday evening I walked (by which I mean “staggered”) off my flight from London and checked my e-mail.  There was a note from Progressive thanking me for processing my claim for the accident I was in earlier that day.  Since I was in Europe earlier that day and the only accident I’d been involved in there was some bad curry, I realized that something must’ve happened with the Mrs. HTF.  After she picked me up I learned that a lady had caused a car accident which involved her running into the side of the Honda Civic my wife was drving.  Thankfully, no one was hurt, except for my car.  Traci told me how the lady had at first denied hitting our car at all – that story changed when my wife called the police.  Apparently, Traci got along quite nicely with the officer and all was good.Police_Man_Vector

On Sunday morning on the way to church we drove around a corner and saw a car off to the side turned totally upside down.  Clearly, an accident had just happened.  I pulled over and in full-suit ran up to see if the people were ok.  I pulled out a male & female teenager – both were dazed, but unhurt.  They both seemed to be ok except that the female was accusing the male of driving badly and bumping into her during the crash.  As a fellow-male, with a few years of experience, I told him that he should get used to being accused of things and quickly apologize.  He just looked confused.

When the policeman showed up he checked out the accident and then saw my wife.  Confused he said to her,

“You again?”

Yep, it was the same police-dude from the day before.  Traci explained that this time she was a really innocent bystander.  I thought the irony was kinda funny. 

So I’m hoping that my wife is able to avoid accidents today . . . but it is Halloween.  Maybe I should dress up as a cop…

Friday, March 04, 2011

New and painful forms of exercise for the inflexible

Yoga is something other people do.  It’s usually those ladies who can pick up an apple with their toes and put the thing in their mouths, while standing on the other leg and listening to music that would not only put most humans to sleep, but would render small animals quite dead – from relaxing too much.  Well, this is what I thought about the yoga crowd.

And then the Mrs. HTF miraculously got me to go get my Yoga on with her a the Y.

There were only like 7 people in the room and the instructor, Lydia, (I remember this name mostly because I cursed it in my mind a few times) immediately sensed that I was a newbie.  I guess I have that look of “guy who thought yoga was a creamy breakfast food.”  She asked me about injuries and since I didn’t even have a mat, gave me her backup.  But I couldn’t help by notice the tone of her voice as she talked to me – it was like I was asleep and she was trying to influence my dreams without waking me up.  At one point I almost poured water on my head to make sure I was actually awake.  She talked like that for the entire hour – I can only assume she has no children.

The class started off fine, but I was quickly, and painfully reminded of how inflexible I really am.  Balance was special too.  Standing on one leg while holding & extending the other in front of me totally blew my mind.  I only crashed into my yoga neighbors like 6 or 7 times.  I also had to get used to the total silence in the room.  Lydia is the only one allowed to talk I guess, and I had a sense that if Downward-Dog-Yoga-PoseI said a single word or made a noise that the group would collapse on me and pummel me with their mats – quietly.  During one pose, bizarrely named, “Downward Dog” I glanced around thinking I was doing it “right.”  At this point Lydia (can you tell I remember this lady’s name?!) walked softly towards me, grabbed my hips and lifted them in the air.  This was both confusing and painful at the same time.  At the end of class was my favorite pose – which I’m sure has an unpronounceable name – where we just laid on the mat and closed our eyes.  I totally nailed that particular pose – there was no need for instructor intervention.

A few days later a buddy took me to a Pilates class – so my experience with new and painful exercise techniques grew even more.  I’ll spare you the details, but lets just say that when that class was over I thanked the instructor and she said, “Don’t worry, Pilates is much harder for men than women.”  After which, she smoothed out her hair with her left foot and did some texting with her right foot while doing the splits and lifting a smallish Honda over her head.

So if I left you with an impression that I didn’t like this stuff, that was wrong.  I actually did dig it, and you know that by the fact that:

I went to a Yoga class by myself a few nights later.

(true story – I caught a girl copying one of my poses in the most recent class.  At which point I laughed, … silently)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

That Mysterious Box of Cables

I’ve learned that I have a severe weakness for electronic gizmos that do, well, stuff.  In fact, most times that I find myself in a “shopping” environment I gravitate towards anything electronic and will attempt to buy gadgets that I already have, except the newer ones with more “features” and or blinking lights.  I don’t think this weakness makes me particularly unique, in fact, what I think it makes me is:

A guy

My dad is the same way, so I guess I could blame him a bit, but I look around and well, most dads are that way, so he’s totally off the hook.  Still it’s fun to reminisce about the attic in my parent’s house which became a graveyard for printers, scanners, fax machines and mysterious cables that no one cablescould reasonably identify.  All guys have a “location” for those cables and cords that came with the electronic stuff.  The vast majority of these cables won’t ever get used and will, in fact, probably never leave their plastic wrap and/or twisty tie.  This is only partially because we don’t really know what they all do.  It’s also because the odds are off the charts that we already have a cable exactly like the one that came with the “new gadget.”  The Mrs. HTF asks me frequently to “organize” (by which she means throw away) the plastic tote that houses my cable stash.  I’ll poke around a bit and then put the lid back on realizing 3 things at roughly the same time:

1. I don’t know what many of these even do or which gadget they came with

2. In spite of #1 – it’s guaranteed that someday, somehow I will desperately need one of these things to save the world and/or to transfer video

3. I think there’s a game on the TV I need to watch now

Of course, this is a totally rational reaction to the problem.  I’ll probably address it later by spending a crazy amount of money on a newer version of whatever that comes with cables that aren’t compatible with the older version, thus rendering those old cable obsolete.  Too bad I’ll never be able to ID the old ones, but that’s beside the point.  Now I have something newer to play with.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It looks WAY easier on the TV…

I remember after Christmas break in elementary school that lots of kids would show up proudly displaying their “lift ticket thing” attached to their oversized winter coats.  This sticker was of course earned after their parents dropped some serious coinage at a ski resort.  Living in Kansas, this also meant they’d traveled a bit to find actual mountains.  Despite going to college in Utah, home to many a ski lift, I never went skiing on purpose (I’m assuming you don’t count trying to stand on a sled as it rocketed down a hill… not one of my more graceful dismounts). 

skiing20DEC-6A few weeks ago we found ourselves at a ski “resort” up the road from my wife’s childhood home.  It was my first time skiing on, well, snow, so I was pretty apprehensive, but since I was going to take lessons I took some solace in knowing that there would be athletic teenagers there to teach and help me.  This understanding was shattered when the Mrs. HTF revealed to me that the lessons we’d booked were just for the kids.  She was to be my “athletic teenager.”  This was semi-ok because, well, how hard could it be?  You just stand on these fiberglass things and pivot to avoid the larger trees, right?  Outside the lodge I put the skis on for the first time.  That part was the highlight of my morning of skiing.  It was all “DOWNHILL” from there.

The first task was making my way over to the lift and generally moving around a bit.  The ground was flat, but I was averaging roughly 2 inches per hour on the 30 foot walk to the lift with my skis on.  After several minutes of serious effort I let Traci know that I’d be removing my skis and would watch happily from inside the lodge.  This was where she put her ski-boot down.  She was not going to let me quit.  (I suspect this was partially driven by the amount of money we’d spent for me to go 6 inches on my skis.  But I’m sure there was some tough love in there too)  She made me fight through the panic and we somehow got on the lift.  I liked the sitting part.

skiing20DEC-192On the dismount from the lift I immediately fell down – this was a clear, and foreboding sign for the rest of the morning.  Getting up was WAY harder than I’d expected, but I got lots of experience as I matriculated my way down the hill.  Now it should be pointed out that the Mrs. HTF scores about a 7 on the patience scale.  There are limits.  She did a pretty miraculous job of getting me to not just get on the lift, but also to make my way down the mountain as well.  But it should be stated, I’m quite certain she thought about leaving me on several occasions.  Each time I fell I consistently couldn’t figure out how to put the skis back on.  She’d help me out, but after the 20th time, the frustration was so palpable that I’m pretty sure thought about stabbing me with a ski pole and calling it an accident.  Still, she stuck with it and somehow I made it down.  But here’s the thing…

Once I got down I realized that I actually liked it skiing20DEC-171AND I’d figured out how to stop, sorta, so I didn’t collide with Deadly Alaskan Tree Monsters (good name for a rock band).

From then on it was relatively smooth, though not graceful, sailing.  My kids picked it up really quickly, especially Sydney.  At one point, and I’m not making this up, she literally skied in a circle around me while I went down the hill.  We went back a few days later for night skiing – yep, I liked it that much!  I’m sure I still look goofy going down, but I love it anyway and…

I have one of those sweet sticker lift ticket things on my coat!!

PS – Thank you, Traci for teaching me to ski AND for not leaving me to be eaten by confused moose

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Moms In the Stands and Dads on the Sidelines

This is a Guest Post from an esteemed blogger, who writes well and makes sense, so definitely not a typical HTF post...

The orange slices at halftime, the fleet of minivans shuttling players to and from practice, the words of encouragement after a tough loss... yes, little league parents are a big part of their children's games; at least the ones who help make treasured childhood memories.

They may also be the memory their kids would rather forget, such as Mom yelling at the coach to get Junior more playing time. In the last decade or so, little league parents have become notorious for sticking up for their little leaguers to the point where they make the games less enjoyable for the players, the coaches, and the refs. All parents want their children to do well and get a chance to a play (and experience the joys of winning), but it seems there is a gender divide between how each parent handles a child's success -- and failures.

Moms are often the most ferocious advocates for their little athletes, and as a result will shift blame for an athletic shortcoming from lack of ability, skill, or effort to outside forces like injury, stupid coaching, bad plays, or the other team being evil/good/bad, depending on what is most fitting for the situation. Moms like to coddle. They like to make sure their kids are emotionally sound, and by their definition it usually means protected from criticism. Moms try to protect egos and massage bruised ones, and so will tell their children and everyone who wants to listen that their son or daughter had a bad game due to a phantom injury, the coach putting them in during the wrong situation, dirty play from the other team, or a blown call.

Dads also love to blame coaching and reffing, and unfortunately some have taken it to extremes. But rather than simply deflect all the blame on these outside factors, Dads will also put some blame on the kids. Dads can be gruff, realistic, and not averse to a little "character building." Though the refs may get their fair share of verbal abuse during a game, and there will be plenty of grousing about how a coach does not see a little athlete's potential, if a little leaguer has a bad game, a Dad may let them know about it.

Little League parents want to see their children succeed more than anything else, but when they don't, they deal with it in different, often gender specific ways. But at the end of the day, it's just a game, and more than anything else it is joy to see children playing a game and having fun.

J. Gustav is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on forensic psychology schools for Guide to Online Schools.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Emergency Rooms, 3rd-World-Dictators, and the Moon Fest

As I write this I’m sitting in the semi-pleasant waiting room outside the “Surgical Center” of our local hospital.  A “loved-one” is back behind all these walls getting some necessary repairs and perhaps an hospitaloil-change thrown in.  I don’t like hospitals, few people do.  And if you do I’d submit that you should sell your services as a proxy for those of us who hate the place.  So like, the next time I have to go the ER or something, you could go FOR me.  I might even consider paying you to visit the people that I should be visiting.  I love those people, but I dislike hospitals THAT much, and I’m pretty sure they’ll eventually forgive me – referring to the people, not the hospitals.

A couple weeks ago I did actually have to check myself into the ER.  (see the Brian Regan rant about hospitals, seriously, you must watch it)  This was an odd experience.  I walked in, I’d played hoops a few hours earlier and was pretty capable of, you know, walking, but they threw me in a wheel chair and then got me on a bed where I was told to “lay flat” repeatedly.  I was wheeled around everywhere I went.  It was like I was a lazy 3rd world dictator.  Everyone was pretty nice though.  Except I think they need to have a better way of prioritizing people as they walk in.  Like there should be a nurse at the door, one of the more experienced ones, who can glance at you, ask a couple questions and then tell you if you’re in the “Extreme-Emergency”, “Plain-old-emergency” or the “Not really much of an emergency” lines.  Just seems more efficient, and safer.  Just so you know, I’m totally fine – zero problems, except that the tape they used to adhere the IV to my arm left behind “awesome residue” (good name for a rock band) that refuses to come off even with the use of power tools and spatulas (at the same time!).

These places have a weird smell that I’m convinced is pretty universal.  I’ve smelled it in lots of hospitals in several states and even other countries.  But I think that’s to actually make them not-so-comfortable.  If you run a hospital, you probably don’t want people, you know, trying to move in or retire there on purpose.  So you make the place smell bad AND you make people wear these gowns that make you feel pretty much totally naked all the time.  You have look down constantly to make sure that your nether-regions are actually a little covered.  And the back of you, where the “flap” is, is basically the 24-hours-a-day-moon-fest.  Oh yeah, and there are needles too.

Anyway, despite all this, I’m thankful that we have hospitals, and this one even has wi-fi in the lobby, which is a plus.  But that doesn’t mean I have to ever enjoy dropping by…

Friday, October 22, 2010

Beach Boy Karaoke, Swagger, and Impressive Wiggling

KoQYou know how the model in lots of TV sit coms is less-than-average-looking-guy married to way-above-average-looking-woman.  (right here I was gonna list the shows for you, but let’s see in the comments if you can list them…trust me it’s a long list.)  Sometimes people land things that they really don’t deserve – and strangely this often results in unintentional comedy.  That last sentence pretty much describes my whole life, which I’m good with.  Recently I was “matched” with a new assignment in our church that yet again proves this point.  I am now the official DJ for teenage church dances.  If this confuses you, I’m right there with you.

DJs, by definition it seems, are cool.  I haven’t been cool in like 20+ years, and even that is debatable.  Perhaps the last cool thing I did was land a spit-wad directly between the eyes of a the girl I liked in 2nd grade.  I was a hero amongst the large group of 2 eight-year-old boys watching me.  I guess it was all downhill from there.  But DJs have to have swagger and be hip, so the image of the bald-dude who thinks he dances WAY better than he actually does standing behind a bunch of equipment telling the kids how to “get down” should absolutely make you laugh.  (don’t worry, I’ll put pictures up here when it actually happens – I’m nothing if not self-effacing)

One of the surprises so far is that whenever I tell people who are super-old like me about it – they actually want to come hang out with me during the dances.  I’m gonna go ahead and call that my posse.  And we’ll spend the entire first dance coming up with our “street names.”

I haven’t been to one of these dances since I was the teenager.  I’ll admit, I have super-great memories of them and was a little less-inhibited than I should’ve been probably.  This includes the time I did a semi-spontaneous karaoke to a Beach Boys song with 8 girls on the stage in front of the confused on-looking crowd.  But I’m pretty convinced that I’m gonna be laughing a lot looking down on the crowd.  People watching paradise…

So as awkward as I might look trying to be cool up there – at least I can fell some consolation as I look down on the teenage kids trying to wiggle around and impress each other.

Now I just gotta figure out street names for me and my homies…

Friday, October 15, 2010

HTF the Fantasy Football League –Week 5 Update

You know that whole tree falling in the forest without anyone to hear it thing – well, in spite of me not writing about it, the HTF Fantasy Football league has been rockin’ the last month since I gave it a shout out here on the blog.  Last week’s games were particularly close and featured a super-tight 6 point win by the up and coming NYTrainSpotters against Tiffany’s high-scoring crew.  JJ’s Diamond people made sure that “True to the name Tony” stayed in last place, but just barely.  The Gobstoppers snagged their second W and I eeked out a smallish-margin-win against the Goatz, whose mascara-wearing QB named Tom was on a bye.


But Matt’s Cannibalistic Pigs sit atop the league after rattling off 3 wins in a row including a beat-down of the Crushees. 


This week the top and bottom ranked teams actually play each other and you know who most of us will be rooting for.  Go Tony-boy – surely the Chilean Miners are on your side!!

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