Tuesday, October 27, 2015

11 Hours

This weekend, America will engage in a yearly ritual that I cannot for the life of me understand. No, not Halloween. I get that. I mean, free candy and chocolate? What's not to get?

No, I'm talking about the day after, when we, as a nation, change the time on our clocks. In researching this phenomenon (I googled it) I discovered that Canada and large parts of Europe also observe Daylight Savings Time. I cannot tell you how stupid I think this is.

Arizona is the only state that does not change our clocks, either forwards or backwards, ever. Except Hawaii, but we all know that Hawaii isn't really an American state anyway, so whatever people of Hawaii. And we have message for all the other states, the Canadians and all those countries in Europe have been tricked into participating in these shenanigans.......

This does not work.

Sorry. But all that running around and adjusting your alarm clocks, microwave clock, stereo clocks, wall clocks, watches, etc, is a complete waste of time.

Oh I know the arguments....it saves electricity! People like an extra hour of daylight after work! Something about farmers! Summer! Winter! I'm telling you, it does not matter. You are kidding yourselves.


Because.....the sun doesn't change it's clock. It goes up and down at the same time every day, no matter what you program you device to say. The sun will be up for approximately 11 hours tomorrow. Period. The sun does not give a shit what time your watch says when sunrise happens and it does not care what time your computer says it is when sunset occurs. It does not care. 11 hours is 11 hours. If I set my clock to say the sun comes up at noon and goes down at 11p.m., so what? Does it change the amount of daylight? Does the sun care? 

As for the "people" liking an extra hour of daylight after work...really? WTF? Seriously, that's what we have electricity for. It will provide light for you whenever you want, even HOURS after work is over. It doesn't save electricity either because the same people who aren't using their lights after work are using them in the morning before the leave for work! 

Why? Because 11 hours is 11 hours, no matter what you name it.

It's like this. The sun will rise here Saturday morning at 6:46 a.m. and set at 5:37 p.m. On Sunday it will happen at 6:47 a.m. and 5:36 p.m. California? Saturday in L.A. the sun will rise at 7:12 a.m. and set at 6:01 p.m. Sunday? It will rise at 6:12 a.m and set at 5:00 p.m.

See that? IT'S STILL 11 HOURS.  You have only fooled yourself. Sort of. I mean, if you go to all the trouble of changing every clock you have after being constantly reminded by every TV station and radio station around, there is only so much "fooling" going on here. Quite a big bunch of fools though.

Listen, just stop. We have not observed DST since 1966. We participated once, in 1966, and then opted out in 1967 because it was stupid. You too can opt out. No harm will befall you. The days will get increasingly shorter until the solstice and then they will get longer, minute by minute, day by day. It's fine. Quite nice actually. It makes everything easy, except for one thing....

Dealing with the rest of you. Starting Sunday I'm going to have to try to remember what the hell the time difference between here and PST and EST is, since its changed again. As for Central time? Who the hell knows. I have no idea what they do there.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Growing Up vs. Giving Up

Growing up or giving up? You get to a point where is becomes hard to tell the difference. For the last 18 years I have controlled my kids whole world. And I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

 I mean, it's not like I'm a control freak or anything. It's just that I'm a control freak. This was my job and I took it seriously.

I was in charge of all the food they ate, so of course we have had organic fruits and veggies, and farm-raised grass-fed minimally processed meat. We even joined a CSA and had fresh vegetables delivered from the farm to our door once a week. There is no soda in the house, and no chips or cookies. That is more about me than them, but whatever. However,  because I didn't want them to develop an un-natural fixation on foods, they were always allowed to order soda in a restaurant and eat whatever they wanted at friends houses and birthday parties. See how I perfectly threaded that needle?

Homegrown tomatos

I was in charge of the TV shows. My kids were not allowed to watch Spongebob Squarepants until they were 6 years old because it was too mature for them. Spongebob! And they were also not allowed to watch TV with commercials, or anything scary, or Calliou, because he is a whiny little shit.

I was so proud the day my son convinced me to go to McDonalds for a treat and my 4 year old daughter asked "Do I have to eat this? Can I just eat at home?"

And when that same son was shocked! Shocked I tell you! at 7 years old to discover that if you wanted a cookie, you could just buy one, you didn't have to bake them yourself!

Oh yeah. I was one of those Moms.

They always did all the homework as it was required, turned it in when it was due, and every project contained all the elements of the grading rubric!

Science Fair project

Everyone had baths on the appointed days and went to bed at the appointed hour. And they were happy about it.

We had all the requisite fun and loving elements of childhood too. Decorating for the holidays? Check. Trips to Disneyland? Check. Riding horses, quads, and camping? Check. Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? Check. Family reunions, trips to the beach, church on Sundays, bedtime stories, family dinner at the table every night? Check, check, check.

Christmas at Disneyland

It required some effort, but I managed. Right up until they became teens. I thought that all my foundation work, all the wonderful things I had instilled in them would carry them through the high school years and right into college.  I could just put that stuff behind me and focus on supervising social media and harping about drugs and alcohol while visiting colleges.

So you can imagine my surprise when that didn't work out.

We have had our fair share of supervising social media, to be sure. Drugs and booze haven't come into play yet, but I have decided thats probably more luck than anything. Visiting colleges? We are doing our first this weekend but Thing 1 has decided he MUST have a "gap year." I have been repeatedly informing him he isn't British royalty, but he won't listen.

And while we are having all these Very Important Conversations, I have noticed some things. Things that make me feel like I have failed miserably, not only now, but back then too.

I am arguing the merits of college straight out of high school with someone who is drinking a Monster energy drink and eating a hot pocket. While his sister sits in the living room watching American Horror Story. Both have a C's in at least one subject due to assignments that were not turned in and family dinner is becoming a thing of the past. The punk rock blasts from one bedroom and the foul mouthed rap comes from another. And bedtimes? The only reason Thing 2 goes down at anything resembling a reasonable hour is because she is bewitched by sleep. Thing 1? I have no idea when he finally goes to bed.

So, it leaves me wondering....are they growing up or am I giving up?

Yes. Both. 

Sometimes I am so irritated from checking the online grades and chasing Spanish assignments to care whether or not they are drinking a Monster drink. And some days Im just so over it from everything else that I can't be bothered if they walk in at 5:30 p.m. with Chik-Fil-A, a double whammy as it is fast-food and interferes with family dinner! They drive now and they have their own money, so this stuff is easy to come by. Every single day I am too tired to stay up long enough to figure out if Thing 1 ever went to sleep. 

But then there are days when I think to myself "No! I will not give up! Hot pockets are not even food!" So I make stuffed zucchini with veggies grown in our own garden. And in an occasional burst of conscience, I change the Netflix password and clear off the DVR, but it is honestly an uphill battle and I know it.

I try to calm myself with memories of my own childhood. We were only allowed to eat Cheerios as a cereal, so we went down the street to my dear friend Heidi's house and ate her sugar coated cereals all the time. We were only allowed to have McDonalds on our birthdays, so we clamored for it when we were at my cousins house. And all through my 20's the little kids across the street thought I was the coolest adult ever because I had Cocoa Puffs. I turned out OK, right?

Lucky Charms

Then I think that there are so many more problems we could be having, so many things that other parents are battling, parents who would willingly hand their kid a bag of chips and the DVD of Texas Chainsaw Massacre without a second thought, that I am an asshole for even worrying about this garbage. 

So yes, they have grow up and are asserting their little bits of independence. And yes, I have given up on a lot of things I once imagined were really important. We will all survive.

At the end of the day I take comfort in the fact that they were healthy for the first 14 or so years and hopefully that will be enough to ward off anything bad until they return to their senses. 

Except for that "gap year." That thing is the kiss of death, but I am realizing that its a battle that I may not win because in the end, it isn't my life to control.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

To My Son On His 18th Birthday

It  has been a month today since you turned 18 years old. We have discussed a lot in your short life (yes, it’s still short), but I’m afraid that I may have overlooked some important details. Of course, there are always things that should be emphasized even if we have had that “conversation” before also, so here it goes.

You are not an Adult. I know, I know, you and the federal government of the US of ‘Murica beg to differ. However, the Feds are not paying your car insurance. Or your college tuition next year. Or your health insurance, your food bills, your cell phone bill, your clothing allowance, extra school fees, or housing you and providing you with cable TV and Wi-Fi. Get it yet? Near as I can figure from watching several other people, including you older sister, travel this path, you have 7 more years, give or take. Adulting is hard and will require a lot of work on your part. You don’t just jump into it one day by virtue of when you were born. Enjoy it while you can, because one day I will cut you off.

Some things last forever. I’m not talking about true love either, because everyone knows that is bullshit. I mean tattoos, gauges and any other body “modification” you might be inclined to do to yourself. Remember, I washed, changed and nurtured that body for many, many years. I have earned a say. If you are going to get a tattoo, for pity’s sake at least get one that has some meaning to you personally. If you get a koi fish tattooed on your arm, be prepared to have me chop the damn thing off. They are glorified goldfish and there is no one on this earth who gives a shit about them. Gauges are verboten. VERBOTEN. Don’t know what it means? Look it up, you are  adulting now and that is what we do. Look shit up.

Sex may be fun but babies are not. Does this require further explanation? Sex is cleaner with a packaged wiener. While your undressing Venus, dress up your penis.
Safe sex or no sex. Don’t be silly, protect your willy. Babies are a huge, life-altering thing. I know because I have a couple. Trust no one but yourself and Trojan. I won’t even go into the dread diseases that abound. Just wrap it up buddy.

Stay in college or suffer in silence. I cannot emphasize enough how much you should really go to college, stay there, and enjoy it. The minute you quit, you are over. Get yourself a minimum wage job, or two for that matter, and suffer accordingly. Don’t call me when your car breaks down or bills overwhelm you. You made your “adult” choices, now live with them. They will suck big hairy balls though, so think hard. Especially since I’m paying for college in the first place. It is as good as your life will get. Don’t blow it.

 Use your manners. I didn’t spend all those years instilling them in you for fun. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Yes, this will require you look away from your phone. It will be worth it. Manners can take you further in this world than you ever imagined. Use them on women too. Your father raised you, so I have no doubt that you know how to treat a woman properly. Be sure to do it. All the time.

 Don’t go to jail.  Ever. There is nothing in this world worth going to jail for. I know because if there were no jail, there would be loads of people that no longer walk this planet. But jail stops me and you should let it stop you. You will never survive. First off, you are way to dramatic. They will not stand for that shit. Also, there are no Xboxes, Playstation4’s or assorted other gaming systems for you waste away your sentence playing. No smart phones or electronics of any kind.  You cannot be picky about your food or take 30-minute showers.  Hell would be a relief comparatively.

You are still my child. When I am 80, you will be 51. Yes, I plan to live that long and when I get there you will still be my son, my baby, always and forever.  I will hug and kiss you and while you don’t have to like it, you will have to tolerate it. You will give me unfettered access to my grandchildren and I will reward you by telling them every embarrassing story I can remember about you. I will tell you what you should do because I will be wiser and you will teach me about new technology because you will be smarter.

It doesn’t sound like that much fun? Take a hard look at your father and I. Are we having fun? STAY IN COLLEGE.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Random Thoughts on Disneyland

Disney vacations are one of the most blogged about things on the planet. You can find just about anything you want on the subject, from Disney with Toddlers to Disney on a Budget. Or even The Secrets of Disneyland or How to make Your Disney Vacation Special. Having just spent a couple of days in Disneyland, Im going to add my two cents worth, but just so you know, they won't be really helpful to you if you are planning a trip there. These are just my random observations after my mini-vacation. If you find any useful information in here....well, good for you.

1) Comfortable shoes are a must, but they only delay the inevitable. Eventually your feet will hurt. The older, fatter, and lazier you are the faster this will happen to you. Mine were screaming by the end of Day 1.

2) There is something about the whole endeavor that makes you feel like a hamster in a wheel. You will walk 10 miles a day, easy, but it's around and around and around in the same place. In between all this walking there will be a TON of standing. It will test your endurance.The older, fatter and lazier you are the harder this will be for you.

3) Don't kid yourself. I do not care what every blog in the universe tells you, there is no way to do Disney "cheaply" or even "cheaper." Be prepared to hemorrhage money, drain college funds and take out loans. A regular sized hamburger, medium fries and a medium drink ( no refills) is $15. Per person. And you will need to eat, more than once.

4) Everyone will wear the mickey ears. Even "gangster" types with their white undershirts as outer shirts, long black shorts, high white socks and neck tattoos. I know because I saw it. And he didn't even have any kids with him.

5) You know those women who won't leave the house without full make-up, done up hair and high heels? They go to Disneyland the same way. I can say that while I don't understand this, I admire their commitment to their look when its 95 in the shade and they are actually standing in a 30 minute line in stilettos.

6) You will see people on their phones everywhere. As they are walking so they are in your way, as they are in line so they are holding up your progress, as they are on the rides! 95% of these people are middle aged women ( with a few men thrown in for good measure). The teenagers, not so much.

7) You can take your 6 year old (maybe he was 7) to Disneyland, you can buy him a Goofy hat, you can wait in line for rides with him, you can get him a giant lollipop, and at some point in the midst of all this, he will still yell "You are the worst Mother EVER!" at you. To her credit, she did not even flinch, let alone scream anything back. Good job Mom.

8) The Indiana Jones ride breaks down C.O.N.S.T.A.N.T.L.Y. I'm not sure what the problem is, but expect it.

9) From the minute the park opens until the second it closes there will be a line of no less than 30 minutes, usually longer, for the Peter Pan ride. Yes, its a kiddie ride. Stop checking your app and stop "waiting for a better time." Its not going to happen.

10) It doesn't matter how old you are or what question you are asking, the park staff will never break character. You will be called a Princess and they will tell 47-year-old you, with a totally straight face, that Winnie the Pooh just left to get some honey and will be right back.

11) There is something that happens, or conversely does not happen, in Australia in September that causes all the Aussies to come to Disneyland. I'm pretty sure it was the second largest concentration of Australian people in the world, outside of Sydney. I have zero explanation as to why this is.

12) Planning to stay in the park from open to close only ever seems like a good idea when you are not there. Come about 2 in the afternoon it seems positively idiotic. By 6pm you will be feeling like you are trapped and looking for an escape. It is this reason that the Disneyland Railroad is still a ride. Who needs to look at dinosaur dioramas? No one, that is who. Yet there is always a line at the station in New Orleans Square. 

13) There will be assorted parades, shows and events all day long. Sit down and watch a few. Given that you paid something close to a gazillion dollars to be there, Disney spares no expense on these things and they are awesome.

14) It doesn't matter how old you are, there is still a magic to it all that never goes away.