One of the highlights of my day is my drive home from work. I get to have twenty minutes or so of QT with Lucas. (With Lucas riding shotgun, I also get to practice not screaming at/flipping off/attempting to ram other drivers. Diaper costs are peanuts compared to what I'd pay for anger managerment therapy. It's nice.)
Now we get to take the PCH north, and it's a fun ride. Lucas loves riding in the truck; for a 20-month old, riding in the front seat of a car is better than an Imax movie. He provides a running commentary: "Eh-plane! Caaaaaa! Doggy! Uh-oh! Moooooon!" My favorite: he points at the surfers sitting out in the Cardiff lineup and says, "Daddy!" (Sniffs, wipes tear - that's my boy!) Yesterday, we were treated to an absolutly glorious sunset; Lucas had not seen it's like, and looked out at the fiery red and gold horizon with a big smile on his face. He seemed a bit mystified by the ending; the sun disappeared, and he looked at me and asked, "Moon?" "Sun", I said. "Moon?", he responded. Astronomy is not his strong suit - must remember to put Little Galileo in the DVD rotation.
This to me is the best part of being a dad. Knowing that when your kid is with you, the most mundane things - going to the store, sitting down for a meal, driving home from work - can be magical.
I have this friend, see, and he got in his head last night that there really aren't a whole lot of blogs out there that cater to him. He's a thirty-something dad, see, and he has one blog and writes for another. He's well-read, tries to stay hip on the good music, is a bit of a TV and movie junkie, and when he can purses all manner of outdoor fun (mostly, water-centric activities that involve standing up on and riding a moving slab of foam and fiberglass). He's constantly striving to balance his duties as a dad, a father, a husband, and an individual (to thine ownself be true, that sort of thing). He reads a few parenting blogs, but they seem to be geared towards moms. While he loves and respects moms and wives, he feels that, well, they've kind of cornered the market on the whole parenting blog/website thing. (And feels that such sites occasionally give the other half of the parenting equation the cold shoulder. Dare I say - the finger?). He'd like to see a dad blog combining the real-world scope, coolness and occasional practicality of a mag like Men's Journal with the personality of his favorite bloggers. He thinks that such a blog could cover many bases - current topics and issues of concern to dads, personal anecdotes, helpful hints, gear reviews (yes, Greg, as we have noted, is the undisputed master of this, but still...what about sporting goods for kids? Or kid-friendly computers? Video games? MP3 players? You see where I'm going with this. Oh, here's a gear tip for free: Dads, forget buying a DiaperDude, or any satchel-style diaper bag. Go to your local surf or skate shop, or visit www.swell.com, and buy yourself a surfing/skating backpack. Looks cool, tons of main compartment space, tons of pockets - some have lined wetsuit pockets that are excellent for dirty kid clothes, keeps your hands free and doesn't slip off your shoulder when you're bending down to pick up the sippy cup that Junior has dropped for the umpteenth time, on purpose, because you are his puppet and he knows how to make you dance, monkeyboy. Knock yourselves out.). He knows that undertaking such a task would be a real challenge without outside assistance, so he's already asked a couple of the bloggers that he knows if they'd be hip to it.
So - honest opinion. Am I high? If not (hell, even if so), anyone want in? (Oh - and don't go stealing my idea.)
Between my three posts to this site yesterday and my two posts to PBB today I'm tapped out. So I'll write on the first suggested topic posted in the Comments box here. I don't care what it is. Anything goes. No suggestions, no post.
UPDATED 1:49 PST: Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies. Has there ever been a more perfect snack cake? I think not. My mom used to buy these at the Air Force Base commissary; we were on a tight budget, and the Hostess stuff was more expensive, so she would go with my girl Debbie. And God bless Mom for it; if you waved an Oatmeal Pie in front of me, I turned into Chris Rock in New Jack City, a slobbering addict who would sell his sister to Thai slavers for a taste of the goodness. Hostess has nothing on Little Debbie. The Hostess people tried to go legit by offering "Fruit Pies" as some sort of healthy alternative to Ding Dongs and Suzy Q's. (And don't talk to me about Dolly Madison. Zingers? Offal. And awful.) The Little Debbie people are pure in their intentions to rot the teeth and increase the belt size of America's youth. Star Cakes (pretty much a giant $100,000 Bar), Peanut Butter Bars (pretty much a giant Twix), and the flagship Oatmeal Pie. Read the ingredients. Sugar. Flour. Corn Syrup. Peanut Butter/Oats. That's it. The Little Debbie people are not fucking around. You know something is good/horribly bad when you avoid the snack food aisle entirely, out of fear of relapse. The Oatmeal Pie is on the list of items that Lucas will never be allowed to eat. Right up there with Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Cereal and Cadbury Creme Eggs. Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta go to Von's. That shit just be callin' me, man...it be callin' me, man...I got to go to it...
First - nothin' but love for Greg, his blog, and MSN's Slate. I read 'em all on a daily basis. Greg did a piece for them on strollers. Nothin' but love for strollers. They're useful. They carry things, including your kid. If you have a baby, I highly recommend buying one. Because even though they'll do in a pinch, in most states stealing shopping carts is illegal.
I'm slightly mystified by the whole Stroller Thing. I don't get it. Beth and I bought a (NOT NAMING THE BRAND AS I'M NOT GETTING PAID TO ENDORSE IT) for about two-fitty. It has four wheels. It rolls. Lucas sits in it without complaint. He sleeps in it without complaint. It folds up and fits into the back of our car. It's lightweight. It has a cupholder and a basket to hold other stuff. That about sums up my emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual attachment to the stroller. To ANY stroller.
As evidence that The Stroller Thing has really gotten out of hand, a line from a comment posted to Greg's Slate piece: "Being in Europe for a stroller watcher is the equivalent of going to the Amazon for a bird watcher." A stroller watcher? Are you kidding me? Up until I read that, I would've been able to argue that the stupidest thing I'd ever witnessed was a (not kidding about this!) Professional Dominos Match on a late night public access cable show; more specifically, observing the people who were actually present in the stands, watching the "drama" unfold. No more. Stroller watchers, you've trumped the dominos groupies!
Do I think $900 is a lot for a stroller? Unless that stroller was paid for and built by the Knight Foundation, can drive itself, talk, and fight crime, yes. Yes, I do. "But the quality!", you say. I paid a third of the cost of a Bugaboo for our ride. It's still fully functional. It's approaching the two-year mark. If/when it falls apart, I can buy another - possibly a third - and still have shelled out less money than I would have had I bought a single Bugaboo. More to the point, though, is Greg's observation:
"Strollers communicate who you are—and who your kid is—the way your car does in Los Angeles or your shoes do in New York." So what are we REALLY talking about here? To me, it's simple. My experience as a dad-to-be was nerve-wracking enough without having to hear from the Baby Goods Illuminati that my child's experience in the world would be lessened if he wasn't cruising around town in a tricked-out, full-suspension, on-offroad pram. I know that a parent's worth has fuck-all to do with the buggy that their kid rides around in - having come from Del Mar, the wellspring of Bad Rich Parents, I can attest to that. (This is not to say that only Evil People Buy Nice Strollers. Far from it. I think MetroDad has a Bugaboo. He's not evil. But it seems to me that there are far too many people out there who equate the material things they lavish on their kids with being a good parent. Wow - bold-faced and italicized!) You gotta give props to the Bugaboo people - they've figured out what the rest of the consumer goods marketeers learned years ago. Never underestimate the insecurity of the American shopper.
Men - here is the answer to the Great Mystery Of How To Consistantly Get Laid.
Learn to cook.
When you're a single guy, busting out a nice meal for your date will impress the shit out of her/him - anyone can drag someone else to a restaurant, but mustering the skills to make a zuppe de pesce? Is GOLD. (Hint: time your cooking so that you are finishing up when your date arrives; othwise, she/he may suspect that you've ordered takeout). When you're in a relationship/married, your Other will love you (in the abstract and Biblical sense) for it.
I received a ton of emails and comments regarding this post, specifically about the part involving me and the Catalan-style beef stew. So every so often, I'm going to do a cooking post.
My first bit of advice: buy a Crock Pot. I love one-pot meals, and a Crock makes them amazingly easy to do. As an idiot, I can say with great confidence that any idiot can use one. And Crock Pot + fall/winter = chili.
I have a few chili recipes, but here's an easy one. You'll need the following:
A 2 pound beef roast (the leaner, the better - rump is good. Heh heh - I said "rump".)
A package of turkey smoked sausage
A can of Ro-Tel MILD diced tomatoes and chilis
A package of Carroll Shelby's Chili Mix (I said it was easy.)
A can of black beans (optional - if you use them, drain and rinse them before putting them in)
A six pack of Karl Strauss Amber Lager. Better make it two.
A box of cornstarch
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheese, diced onions, sour cream
Bust out your Crock pot, making sure that the burnt remnants of whatever it was that you tried to make the night before have been scraped out. Take your roast, remove it from the packaging(!), place it in the Crock, add salt and pepper. Cut the smoked sausage into slices roughly 1 inch thick. Eat one. You know you want to. Put the rest into the Crock. Prepare the Chili Mix according to the package EXCEPT substitute a cup of the red wine for one cup of water; do this in a separate bowl and pour it into the Crock. Of course, this means that you'll have an extra bowl to wash, which will require you to expend energy which you'll need for sex later. So maybe you'll want to whip up the Chili Mix in the Crock FIRST and then adding everthing else. While you're at it, pour yourself a glass of the red. Waste not, want not, eh? Add the Ro-Tel. Add the beans if you want. (Remember, drain and rinse them. Use a collander for this. It's the big metal bowl-looking thing with a bunch of holes in it.) Cover the Crock Pot. Turn it on to LOW. LOW LOW LOW. NOT HIGH. LOW. Let it cook for at least six hours. This is where the extra sixer of Karl comes in handy.
(Six hours later): Remove the Crock lid. Smell. Fuck yeah. Take a metal spoon and shred the roast; it should break apart fairly easily and be somewhat stringy. Now comes the tricky part. Hopefully you're not too drunk to do this. Check the chili. It might be a bit soupy. (If you put beans in, it will probably be somewhat less so, as the starch from the beans acts as a thickening agent. Alton Brown, kiss my grits.) Take a ladle and scoop out a couple of cups of the stock. Put it in a small saucepan. Take your cornstarch, and in a small bowl mix equal parts cornstarch and warm water until you get something that looks like soymilk. Add that to the stock in the saucepan and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. I'd recommend doing this over medium heat, especially if you have an electric range. Otherwise it might boil over and then you got worries. As it comes to a boil it will thicken up. Once it does, pour it back into the Crock and stir. Repeat this until you get a consistancy you like. Give it a taste. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne (a little packet comes with the Shelby's) to taste. Scoop it into bowls. Add the shredded cheese, onions, and sour cream if you'd like, although I gotta tellya, it won't need it.
Good luck, and if you attempt this, let me know how it goes.
Can't work. Too tired. Also - I'm missed the weekend. What was it like?
The last two days have been a ceaseless blur of unpacking, hanging, folding, and plugging things in. We took a break yesterday to visit the Pumpkin Patch (aka Bates Nut Farm); Lucas has a pumpkin obsession these days, and I think that some of his synapses were permanently fried yesterday. The look on his face as he took his furst steps into the vast field of giant orange gourds was very similar to that of astronaut Dave Bowman's at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey: "My God - it's full of pumpkins!" Other than that, it was all about The Move. And we knocked it out. We are 98% moved into the Encinitas Digs. The yard is fenced, the walls are painted (I believe the lovely wife will be putting up some pics on her site - really, we ought to be on the Trading Spaces, because the Grandma House has been transformed. It's somethin' to see. You should all come over next weekend. You're totally invited!), the boxes have been unpacked, even the garage is 5x5 (or will be once the vast heaps of trash and cardboard boxes are sent to their final resting place). There's one more trip to be made back to the old place to gather some remnants, and that's it. Our long Del Mar nightmare will be over.
Already we are putting together a list of must-have items. We need:
A juicer - we have three big orange trees in the backyard.
A horseshoes set, for the gravel pit on the side of the house.
A couple of hammocks.
A few more surfboards - we really have too much room in the garage.
A basketball hoop - we have a huge driveway.
A jacuzzi - we have lots of room in the backyard..
A helipad - really, the backyard, it's huge.
So now the fun begins - we get to really explore a region that I've known all my life. I have a feeling that we're never going to want to live anywhere else.
Thank God for memes and MetroDad, who tagged me for this one. We're moving this weekend, and I'm a bit preoccupied with that, and couldn't come up with anything of interest today. Moving sucks. But moving out of a place that you despise to a place that you love - well, that's the bee's knees. So without further a-doo:
7 Things I Want To Do Before I Die
Write and sell my novel. I'm making this a priority this year. I have no more excuses.
Become the surfer I've always wanted to be. (I'm not talkin' about dropping in on a Maverick's-sized bomb. I just want to be consistantly good on a wide range of equipment.)
Work for myself.
Watch a Rugby World Cup game from the sidelines.
Spend a year exploring Australia and New Zealand.
Buy a boat, a big one that sleeps 4. (What is it with guys and boats? Discuss.)
Take a trip into space.
7 Things I Cannot Do
Whistle a tune while someone else is whistling the same tune. I start laughing. It's weird.
Ride roller coasters. They give me horrible migraines.
Read any novel that claims to be about three generations of anything (Asian-American women, Irish potato farmers, U.S. Marines, etc. Three generations is two much. And it's so fucking trite. I promise you this: my novel? One generation.)
Get within 50 feet of a piece of licorice. Even a Twizzler. Disgusting stuff, that licorice.
Dunk a basketball.
Listen to country music.
Abide Jawas. Disgusting creatures.
7 Things That Attract Me To The Opposite Sex
A sense of humor.
The ability to look as good if not better without makeup.
The ability to be sexy when she's not trying to be.
Nothing implanted, removed, or altered in any way, and not afraid to eat a burger and fries.
Must love kids, dogs, the ocean, music, vampire movies, loud music, DVR-pausing the TV show that we're currently watching to ask things like "Where the fuck is that Desmond guy think he's going to run off to? It's a pretty small island. And why isn't Jack's hair growing?"
Must be able to constantly surprise me.
Must be my wife.
7 Things I Say Most Often
"What's for dinner?"
7 Celebrity Crushes
Kate Winslet. Actually, that's it. All others pale in comparison. Yeah, Angelina Jolie is, per arrangement with the wife, my Celebrity Free Fuck (Brad Pitt is Beth's, which will be convenient), but that's a given.
Oh - Carla Gugino is pretty hot, too.
Wait - I kinda have a geek-crush on Katie Sackhoff. It's the chick-flying-Vipers thing.
Also - have you seen Morena Baccarin? Damn.
Come to think of it, Jewel Staite was also on Firefly. She's cute, too.
I forgot about Allison Mack. Yeah, she plays a teenager on Smallville, but everyone on that show is really in their late 20's. That doesn't make me a perv, does it?
I'm aware that there are people out there who don't watch Lost. So for both of you, here's a video summary of Season 1 and what we've seen of Season 2. Fans of the show are advised to watch, as there are some tantalizing clues that you may have missed the first time around (including the best indicator yet as to what The Island REALLY is). Turn up the volume.