Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I got an award!! (but it wasn't for my legs)

My good friend, neighbor, and blog-pal, Alida, did the kindest thing yesterday - she gave me my first-ever blog award (that wasn't a picture of a potato boat)!  CLICK HERE to see her super-cool post about it.  Alida is awesome and it totally made my day.

Before you see the actual award, I should point out that the vast majority of my blog readers are female, and the percentage goes even higher when you look at the comments.  I don't know why that is, I really don't.  I know less about females than your average guy, just ask the Mrs. HTF - so I wouldn't have the vaguest idea of how to write things they'd want to read.  Sometimes I chalk it up to the female compassion thing - "Oh look, there he goes, trying to write again, ahhh, I feel for that guy, therefore I will read what he wrote and even act interested sometimes."  Anyway, I'm not sure, but I'll certainly take what I can get and I'll say unequivocally that MY READERS ROCK!  That being said, it's time for the unveiling of the award (you're about to find out why I even mentioned the whole female reader thing):


That's right friends!  My award is a skinny lady with a huge hat and a tiny dog.  Pretty cool, huh?! - I'm kinda sure that I'm supposed to be the Terrier, cuz the legs on the lady don't look much like mine.  Now getting this award has some strings attached: (note that the use of the word "fabulous" is not really my thing, it was a copy/paste and I'm scared of messing up the chain letter thing)

1. You have to pass it on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.
2. You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
3. You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.

So, here are 5 awesome fabulous bloggers that I bequeath this award to in no particular order, intentionally choosing some of the most frequent HTF contributors:

1.  Marie from Kansas Johnsons.  She a strong mommy-blogger who also writes pretty funny stuff that happens with her family.  Marie's had a bunch of posts that have left me laughing for a long time.  Her kids are hilarious.  She's semi-dry and to-the-point, two of my favorite blogger skillz.

2.  Becca from Rebecca's Ramblings.  Also a lot of great family stories and you can tell she writes what she thinks.  She also mixes in some culture and some refreshing randomness (good name for a rock band).  This girl gets the award for most frequent blog redesign - and she's a great writer. Cool photos sometimes too.

3. Gonzalo from A Nice Deed.  You might remember my good buddy Gonzalito from the day my blog was hijacked.  His posts always make me think and the pictures/video are usually amazing.  Also, he inspires me to change the world for good, at least a little bit.  He always has.

4. JJ from The Conroys.  She always has a stylish design and a super-cool signature that she sometimes drops at the end of posts.  I like that she writes about real-life, but isn't afraid to include the warm & fuzzy.  She comes strong with the photos too.

5. AGM from Permanent Signage.  Probably the most frequent HTF contributor.  Hopefully you read along with her blog because we share a few jokes/references back and forth.  AGM hits on pop culture, politics, muppets, an ongoing saga with the water department and high-fashion,  I'm sure there's a master plot in there that none of us are bright enough to figure out yet.  The posts always crack me up.

Now the 5 odd fabulous HTF addictions: The West Wing, counting to 16 before I turn off the shower, fleece, fiber-one chocolate bars, and Dave Barry.

I hope you were able to make it through this super-long post.  Coming soon - the "winners" (air-quotes intended) of the drawing and the Top HTF Posts of 2008!

Other instructions for the winners that I was commanded to copy/paste:  Upon receipt of this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then "add image" it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the "picture" gadget. Also, don't forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog. Congratulations!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Cycle and the Blue Sheep

As many of you know I'm back in KC with the family for a couple weeks.  It's been awesome, a bit like coming up for air after diving far too deep in the pool.  But it hasn't been without its, uh, glitches moments.  To go from living totally alone to living back with the family DURING CHRISTMAS VACATION is a pleasant shock to the system.  But it can feel a little like trying to run a marathon after not running a step for a few years.  You see, the kids (all 4 of 'em) are on the constant Christmas-binge-and-crash-cycle. 

It's really quite something to see.  They happily play, even sharing at rare moments and we all have a great time.  Then the tension creeps in and before you know it they're reprimanding each other, and sometimes me, for deep offenses such as accidentally putting the daddy doll in the kid's nursery room in the doll house.  (of course I had no idea I was committing an actual atrocity since to my untrained-eye all the rooms look pretty similar)  Then the kids play harder and harder (and consume additional sugar), which results in much more impressive yelling and statements shouted at me including, "I don't want to eat now or ever!!!"  (actual quote from my 7 year old when I tried to peal him away from the new Wii for lunch) 

But eventually comes the crash portion of the cycle, which is beautiful to watch, assuming you've kept a safe distance.  At the peak of the super-rational-freak-out (good name for a rock band) the IMG_0361child suddenly falls totally asleep no matter where they are.  Oh they might fight it, but it's clear the brain has shut down.  For instance, instead of shouting, "I don't want to sleep on my bed" they may say, "I kicked a blue sheep on a shed."  The tough part is that it's nearly impossible to predict the crash, but if you have the stamina to endure the rest of the day, observing the child falling asleep can be like a hot shower after shoveling all of the snow on your driveway with your hands while wearing shorts.  (I probably overreached on that particular metaphor) 

Don't get me at all wrong, my kids are great and usually marvelous to deal with - we've had some awesome moments the last few days and there is no place on the planet I'd rather be.  I'm the luckiest guy you know.  But the cycle is cracking me up.  Anyway, I have one more week to soak up the fun before I'm back in Seattle and the kids are back to the normalcy of school schedules.  Until then you can count on me to take in every minute whether or not I'm being tongue-lashed for such offenses as enforcing a strict midnight-toy-curfew on the kids.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to the Readers and a Shot at a Prize

First and foremost I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. Hopefully your day has been somewhat similar to mine, which generally has consisted of:

- Watching small children opening presents and emitting sounds of glee.
- Staging a full-scale extraction to get the toys out of the packaging, using power tools and everything
- Watching the youngest experience her first present-opening-euphoria, where even after everything was opened she was frantically searching for more
- Eating stuff
- Simultaneously playing dollhouse, Legos, Wii, and Memory in an attempt to keep everyting happy

So as you can see, it's been an awesome Navidad so far.

The Mrs. HTF already posted a little something.

I also wanted to thank each of you, or at least both of you who read this, for reading along with HTF this year. It's been an interesting year and between my family, the election, the olympics, your questions/comments and other real-life stuff there's been no shortage of material. I've had a ball reading your comments and pseudo-answering your questions. Thanks for making this a great year that way.

In the spirit of all of the other top-10 lists of everything that get published at year-end I'll be doing my own top-10 posts list in the next week or so. But I'm asking for your help, and there could be a little something in it for you too. Please post a comment or drop me an e-mail with your favorite HTF posts of 2008 (that's assuming you liked at least a couple of 'em). You don't need to provide justification or anything (unless you wanna), just a list of 3-5 is fine. Here's the fun part - everyone who submits a list will be entered into a drawing for fantastic prizes which you're guaranteed to either like or regift to someone you don't really dig. I'll randomly pick a winner. (It's Christmas, I'm in a giving mood)

So thanks again for playing along with the blog this year. I hope you're having a great day with family and friends. As for me, I'm off to build a lego castle if we can figure out how to get the actual legos out of the box.

Much luv,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

You Can Do It!!!

Looking for a little inspiration before you tackle the wrapping of the presents or the final trip to the store, HTF is here for ya. Check this out (yes, you can be insprired and laugh at the same time):

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Shopping and Dangerous Fish

As usually happens, the Mrs. HTF has done all of the Christmas shopping.  It's not like she doesn't try to involve me.  She asks me what I think we should buy for certain people and my responses, while often lengthy, can pretty much be summarized in one word:

"Uhhhh . . ."

I'm a guy, so my idea of shopping is that you go to a store, THEN you decide what to buy.  All this "planning" seems like a huge waste of time.  Granted, I certainly overpay, and sometimes I find myself in a sporting goods store looking for gifts for my grandma who can barely walk.  Often I will just buy the first shiny object I see and call it a successful day.  (my wife didn't like the aluminum foil I bought her last year)  See shopping is literally painful to me.  I have the attention span of a 3 year old reading War & Peace.  So speed is key.  One other thing - I am scared to death of intense female shoppers.  I respect them in much the same way I respect sharks (cool to observe from a very safe distance, but no desire to come in contact with them).  Several years ago I made one of those Black Friday ventures at 5 AM to a Walmart (at my wife's behest) and I'm not making this up - I came out with bruises from the shopping carts of obsessed women.  So in addition to being a bad shopper, I'm also kinda scared of it. 

And now you can see why I'm not in charge of the gift buying.  (I pretty much just get consulted after the gifts are purchased so I'm not the one acting surprised when the kids open things up and thank me.)  So if you happen to get a gift from me this year - thank Traci first and then let me know what I bought you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

To Click or Not To Click - The Dilemma of the book

I sat down tonight to punch out a blog, but literally nada came to mind.  However, a quick peak into the mailbag solved that problem in a hurry.  Warning - if you don't use Facebook (and I know there are still a few of you holding out) this question and answer won't make quite as much sense.  Or perhaps you'll make more sense of it than I will because this one is a winner:

Dear HTF,

As you know, I am new to Facebook & I’m still trying to figure it out.  I thought it was supposed to be a friendly place, but whenever I sign on, I find that people are throwing everything under the sun at me: snowballs, drinks, iceballs, ornaments, flair, etc.  It is a little overwhelming.  What is all of this stuff??  When I click on the links, the computer asks to access all of my private info, & I freeze, back slowly away, & hope that it didn’t notice me.  And, what in the heck is a poke??  When I went to the help page, it just says that a poke “can be used for a variety of things.”  Like what?  Can I get it to fix my dryer?  Move my car when the no parking zone goes into effect?  Cook me a spaghetti dinner?  Take me to Ikea?

I went to my all knowing sister for advice, & she advised me to ignore all the extraneous stuff & continue just focusing on what I have been doing--posting random Muppet videos, replying to my own posts, and trying to figure out if I know these people from high school or from my television.  That’s easy for her to say because she has over 200 friends.  She can ignore pokes and snpotato boatowballs, lose 20 or 30 friends, and still have more people in her all star roster than there are in Plymouth Village, Kentucky (pop. 201). 

So I decided to turn to you, Captain Facebook, for your thoughts on the matter.  As part of my appreciation, I am throwing at you what I think will become the newest and most popular application in Facebook:  the potato boat!

AGM, doing my share to fill the HTF mailbox since 2008

Well, AGM, you both called me "Captain Facebook" and awarded me a potato boat, for which I am deeply troubled appreciative.  In my first week of joining The Book (I'm told that's what the kids are calling these days) over a year ago I was bitten by a werewolf, kidnapped, involved in a Mob-related Jewelry Store Heist, hit by the aforementioned snowball, invited to overthrow a government (I'm not sure which one), involved in the "worlds biggest pillow fight," and got Super-poked (OUCH) by someone I supposedly knew in high school, which made me really uncomfortable.  (If you thought a normal poke was powerful, you should see what a SuperPoke can do.  I once used one to make Rosie O'Donnell stop talking - that's powerful.) 

So I was a bit overwhelmed like you.  I'm a pleaser you see - someone who tries to keep the peace and not ruffle feathers - keep the sailing smooth - don't rock the boat - you get the idea (those idioms would all be great band names).  But then I discovered the "IGNORE BUTTON."  After pushing it a few times I felt really empowered.  Now I hit that baby a half dozen times a day.  Yeah, I have just a few friends on The Book and you'd think they'd get the idea that I never, almost never, click "ACCEPT."  But I guess they are intent on involving me in their lives of crime or at least giving me a virtual bruise. 

So my friend, this post is a bit long already, so just take my advice - Click ignore, unless it's something like a really cool piece of "flair" with a chimp throwing fedoras or something.  In that case you fire some of that action my way!

Monday, December 15, 2008

To Pile On or Not To Pile On

Tonight I took a gander (not goose-related) at the HTF mailbag to see who's been naughty (those who never post comments or submit questions) and who's been nice (everyone else).  Here was one of the festive questions I found, appropriately titled "X-mas Excess":


I'd like to gain your perspective on Christmas - and the pile of presents stacked around the house the day after.  Are the presents a distraction to what Christmas should be about, a way to show those around us how much we appreciate them (in a materialistic sense), or something else I'm completely missing?  The day after I find myself toggling between "all these presents are just way overboard" and "look at the kids faces and the memories a great Christmas has provided them".  Any wisdom you can shed is much appreciated.


My friend, that's a marvelous question, and it's one that plagues millions of parents.  First let me say that you certainly don't need to buy me a huge pile of presents.  I'm good with a small mound.  But for perspective on this one we need to remember what Christmas used to be like before we got into this never-ending holiday-gift-giving-arms-war.  Way back when, by which I mean WAY BACK even before the internet, families would gather around a not-particularly-impressive potted plant on Christmas Eve.  (This, of course, evolved into our current tradition of chopping down entire forests of perfectly healthy trees and putting them in our living rooms the way nature intend.)  But in the old days the families would sit down, sing a few songs, and instead of exchanging presents, they'd simply give each other a series of verbal compliments.  However, as you might imagine doing this in your own family, these compliments could get just a little back-handed.  For example:

- Mom might say to the teenage boy, "Merry Christmas, Joey.  You are doing so well on learning to drive.  I like that our mailbox is now a hood ornament on your car."  OR

- Dad might say to Mom, "Merry Christmas, Honey.  I reviewed our insurance records and your cooking, with the resulting ER visits, helped us get to our out-of-pocket deductible much quicker this year."

At this point Mom reaches for the nearby lump of coal and flings it at Dad's jolly head.  Now you all know where the festive little "lump of coal" (good name for a rock band) tradition comes from.  So times were simpler then, and clearly better.  All the gifts we do now are a perfectly acceptable substitute for conversation and in some cases they do make for great memories, particularly the ones that you spend several weeks assembling and the ones that break before your Christmas Day nap.  (but those can be some pricey memories)  So as you toggle (great word choice by the way) this holiday season between the massive pile of happiness you will bequeath on the kids and the realization that you are, in fact, WAY overdoing it - try this - substitute a few of the gifts for some heartfelt words of love.  And after your kids have forgiven you, take them directly to the toy store. 

Thanks for the question!!

You too can get a "response" to your question like BP.  Send 'em in to henrythefrog@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Things You Can Buy In Illinois

Oftentimes real life is way crazier than anything they could put into movies or even into episodes of Grey's Anatomy.  Today's events surrounding the "Governor" (air quotes intended) of Illinois are a perfect example of this.  Thanks to alert reader, AGM, who pointed this story out to me and has already blogged about who would play this guy in the surely forthcoming made-for-TV movie.  If you're not up to date on the story, it's basically this, presented in bullet-point format because I work in corporate America:

- Illinois Governor Rod "Helmut-Hair" Blagojevichiwiczisnicklefritz was arrested at his house at 6 AM this morning after a really long investigation which consisted mostly of Federal Agents watching him say STUPID things on CNN.  Oh yeah, and they wiretapped his phone and office too.  What, you may ask, did he do wrong? . . . .

- With Barak Obama getting the small promotion from junior senator of Illinois to Supreme Commander of Everything, his senate seat was "open."  You'd think they'd have a rule where you had to pull a sword out a rock or something to get that seat, but no, the governor could just pick pretty much anyone he wants.  So he had a great Idea, which was . . .

- "Let's auction it off for charity to the highest bidder!!"  (with the proceeds going directly to me and my wife)  This seemed perfectly reasonable, since he probably consulted with the previous governor of Illinois, who, and I'm not making this up, is currently in prison.  Makes you proud to be an Illinoisian I'm sure.  But that's not the craziest part.  The most brazen part of the deal was . . .

- He KNEW the feds were listening in, and still tried to make the sale.  (you gotta read up on this guy's history, it's amazing)  Pretty sure that when he posted bail this morning he offered Barry's seat to the District Attorney for a hair brush and a piece of gum.  There's a lot more to the story, but you get the gist of it.  You should read the actual articles if you're not sufficiently excited for the upcoming movie.

What is up with politics in Illinois?!  Tonight on CNN, Roland Martin, who very recently was "prouder than ever to be from Chicago" was suddenly from Texas (that sentence was true).  The President-Elect, when asked about the events, claimed to have never heard of Illinois, and then said something powerful about hoping for change. (that part's less-than-true)  The best part of the whole thing is that this story is just getting started.  And the other best part is that I now know what I want the Mrs. HTF to buy me for Christmas!!

A Senate Seat!!!  (or maybe just a Wii)

Monday, December 08, 2008

The Little HTFers are Dancing Elves!!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

A Foray Into Pop Tunes

There was a time when I was a pop-music-fiend (rock band name).  I knew every song, every "artist" (air-quote emphasized), and tons of facts about what was going on in top-40 land.  I could tell you who was hot and who was a has-been, understanding that an act could move from one list to the other within 48 hours time.  Well, that was then, and now, . . . I'm . . . uh . . . ancient.  At least I feel that way sometimes.  So this weekend I couldn't sleep one night so I turned on the VH1, and to my complete shock there wasn't a celebrity reality show on at all, it was the Top-20 countdown.  Figuring that would teach me all I needed to know to get back into the loop.  Here were a few things I picked up:

- So I thought Brittney Spears was forever a punchline, and I was right about that part, but she has a new video and record.  In this particular video she's wearing absolutely nothing, which makes it remarkably similar to other appearances in her bizarre career.  There was no snake involved this time, and somehow she had hair.  Didn't she shave it all off a while ago? - I sure wish I knew her high speed hair growth secret.

- Beyonce had 2 videos in the countdown, but it felt like there were 6.  The best one was her and two other ladies doing a funky dance in leotards (now that is a hilarious word - doesn't that totally should like an 11-year old insult: "YOU'RE JUST A STUPID LEOTARD!!!") while telling single ladies to tell the guys that they should "put a ring on it."  Catchy tune, but I'm not sure how the guys will feel about being lectured like that on TV.  I am sure that the video got old fast.

- Katy Perry scares me . . . but she was on the countdown

- The biggest takeaway was that the American Idol People don't always just disappear.  I don't watch the show, but I pick up what's happening by osmosis through coworkers.  The Davids were #1 and #2 on the countdown.  Archuleta was #2 with what I think was the best pop song on the show.  Cook was #1 and the song was lame.  And this was one of those videos where the actors portraying the story keep getting interrupted by over-done, annoying images of the band pretending to play the song.  But hey, winning American Idol entitles you to a few bombs that will still be surprisingly popular.

So I walked away from the thing with the realization that not knowing everything about pop music is really just fine.  You may love it all, and that's ok.  As for me, I'll somehow survive not watching that again for a few years, by which time Ms. Spears will probably be making her 12th big comeback. 

In honor of my little adventure I've added a couple of tunes I heard to my playlist - take a listen . . .

Friday, December 05, 2008

Attack of the Killer Air-Quotes

Let's take a little peak into the mailbag . . .

Dear HTF:
So what’s the deal with “air quotes”?  If you’re trying to “make a point”, don’t “air quotes” just distract the person you’re “talking” to?  Didn’t John McCain learn this “lesson”?  Or am I just easily “distracted” and should instead “get back to work” and stop sending silly “questions” just so I can “share” my inane “comments” with the “blogosphere”?

I feel like a little "context" or "history" might help here.  Air Quotes, which I will call AQs for the rest of this post because I work in corporate American and anything worth saying has to be made into an acronym, actually originated at the time of Noah.  Yes, the one with the really big zoo-on-a-boat.  See there was a guy at that time named Philanthropus, who obviously went by Phil, who was Noah's next-door-neighbor.  When Noah started telling everyone about the rain, repentance, and stuff, Phil was  really skeptical, and he also happened to write for the local paper, which was a tough job since paper hadn't even been invented.  Anyway, in the paper he would quote Noah often, constantly making fun of him, showing mocking skepticism, and taking his words out of context.  (If Phil would've survived the little flood, his descendents would all work on cable news today)  Phil was asked to speak arkto the town and in his remarks we see the first documented use of AQs.  He felt the need to distinguish the psycho-babble of Noah about a "coming storm" from his own words.  And the AQs were his tool of choice. 

So we have "good-old-Phil" (good name for a rock band) to thank for introducing this nice little non-verbal messaging device.  History will remember him for AQs, but it won't remember him for being a particularly strong swimmer.

Thanks for the question, CM.  Hope you think about Phil whenever you drop AQs on folks.

Send your questions/comments into henrythefrog@gmail.com.  I promise to do my best to either answer them or write something totally unrelated to what you ask.

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