Monday, June 30, 2008


I routinely make poor decisions.

Like the time I was uncorking a stubborn bottle of wine, thought to "improve" my grip, and ended up punching myself in the face. Or when I listened to my classmates in eighth grade and ruined the basketball scoreboard. Or the time I thought it would be okay to go on that "marketing job" interview where they told me to show up wearing shoes I could "do a lot of walking in." Or the LARP weekend. And so on.

That's why it makes me happy when I can spot a potential disaster in the works, and make a conscious choice to avoid it.

Yes, our liquor cabinet is understocked, and we are dangerously short on mixers. But as appealing as it seems at first glance, I don't need to actually mix White Russians using baby formula before I realize that it's a Bad Idea.

Can you hear that, world? It's the sound of a little something I like to call progress.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Foreigners Are Trying to Kill My Daughter

Lousy, stinking crib recall. Although they admitted that they are at fault and issued a voluntary recall, the company that manufactured cribs that were shoddy enough to break apart and strangle babies certainly isn't making it easy to fix the situation. And as the owner of one of these deathtraps from across the pacific, I'm pretty disgruntled about it.

My daughter needs a safe place to sleep tonight, and their recall process is anything but speedy. First I have to register with them to show that my daughter's crib is in fact one of theirs and affected by the recall. Then I wait for them to send me a recall kit. Then I follow the instructions in the kit, taking apart the crib and sending pieces back to the company to prove that I actually owned the crib and that now no one else will be able to use it. Then in a week or more, I get a voucher for the original purchase price of the crib. The voucher is only good at Toys 'r' Us or Babies 'r' Us. It is only applicable towards the purchase of a replacement crib. If I select a crib that costs more than I paid for the childkilling crib, I have to pay the difference. If I buy a crib that is cheaper, I will not be refunded any of the money that I originally wasted paid.

Given that this process is supposed to take at least a week, where am I supposed to put my daughter? Not to mention the fact that I live in the middle of nowhere, and the original purchase of the crib was a Gigantic, Time-Consuming Production. It's an hour drive to the nearest Babies 'r' Killed Us, and they don't keep any cribs in stock beyond the floor models. So that's more time before we can get a replacement crib, and since I don't have any way to get it home, requesting delivery incurs extra costs of money and time.

I blame this recall on the company that made the shoddy cribs in "Vietnam or China," but also on globalization's hypercompetitive drive to offer cheaper and cheaper merchandise, which means outsourcing to sweatshops and sub-par imports from third world countries. We wouldn't have this problem with an American-made crib because it would have been twice as big, three times heavier, and six times as sturdy, possibly made out of solid steel.

Is my righteous blaze of jingoistic fury unwarranted? Can I just leave my daughter in the crib until its replacement arrives, gambling with her very life? No, because every night she spins to the side and starts kicking the defective slats. Either she has a death wish (not likely), or her critical eye had already assessed the structural flaws inherent in her resting place, and was desperately trying to alert us to the danger before it was too late. Per her unspoken demand, we shall not let her lie in that accident-waiting-to-happen for another second!

The whole thing makes me angry. So angry, in fact, that the only remedy is a juicy burger, cooked rare with 100% beef from United Food Group, and topped with fresh sliced tomatoes. In fact, I think I'll go drive out and get one in my Ford explorer, right after I add some air to its Firestone tires.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron Chef America

It's okay. Certainly, it's head and shoulders above the absolutely painful Iron Chef USA, but it's still a mixed bag of entertainment. On the one hand, the guy that they have as the chairman is absolutely hilarious. He manages to be completely over-the-top with his gestures, his dialogue, and his mannerisms, but at the same time he makes you feel like you and he are sharing a private joke. And the little sound effects that they add to his karate moves that introduce the Iron Chefs? Win.

On the other hand, Alton Brown. Sometimes he's on the mark, but as a general rule, I would pay good money to punch Alton Brown in the face. Specifically, he needed a good firm smack (possibly with a rolled-up newspaper, or maybe a brass knuckle) during battle coffee. I get it--you're hyper because it's coffee--but I didn't want it in the first place. And is it just me, or does Kevin Brauch appear to be seething with barely-concealed resentment when Brown condescends to let him give the same explanation of the judging rules every episode?

For the judges, I can understand that the show's producers would want people who think differently because arguments mean drama, and drama means good television. The problem is that some of the judges are insufferable when they get to express their opinion. Andrew Knowlton comes across as prissy and elitist when he disagrees with his peers, quibbling over academic minutiae, picking apart the statements of the other panelists, and always needing to mutter the last word into his food like a spoiled eight-year-old. In contrast, Jeffrey Steingarten does an excellent job of voicing his opinion, frequently failing to agree with the other judges but still managing to sound like he is trying to offer constructive criticism, not just showing off. One is a tough but fair evaluator who is disappointed when chefs fail to meet his high standards, and the other is a petty control freak who throws a fit whenever the world around him refuses to meet his expectations. You never know what you're going to get.

I'll keep watching it (unless they keep adding new Iron Chefs; YOU ARE NOT WANTED, MICHAEL SYMON). In the meantime, I have compiled this list of items that I would like to see used as the central ingredient of future episodes battles:

Tic Tacs
Goldfish (the cracker, but the pet might work as well)
hot dogs

Oh wait, this might actually be my grocery list.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Bee Gauntlet

The previous owner of our house was a botanist, and she did a fantastic job planting gardens that always have something in bloom. We did an equally fantastic job of completely neglecting everything outside so that the house looks abandoned, or possibly under attack by some kind of malevolent plant monster.

Our front walk is flanked by lavender plants (bushes? shrubs? Some of the branches have gotten thick enough that I'm thinking about calling them "trees") that have pushed out over the concrete and started getting in the way. I trimmed them back last year, but they have returned in full force. While the plants on either side of the walk don't quite touch each other, there's no way to keep from having them rub up against anyone trying to enter or leave the house.

This isn't a problem. The lazy bees who have nothing better to do besides loiter around my lavender bushes all day like shriners at an open bar are the problem.

That's right, bees. You heard me, Science. All those missing bees that you're looking for? Maybe you should check my front yard, because I can count at least six of them, and sometimes as many as twenty, available at all hours*.

It's a gauntlet made of bees, and I have to run it any time I want to go to work, get groceries, check the mail, or leave a flaming bag of poo on my neighbor's doorstep. It's at the point where I've got to psych myself up before I can leave the house to do anything.

As always, I recognize the importance of staying positive, and have been trying to tell myself that this is a good thing. After all, if I dont want to run this gauntlet of bees, then it must keep out unwanted guests and/or intruders, too. It was a comforting thought, until the doorbell rang yesterday.

What good is having a bee gauntlet if it won't keep out Jehova's witnesses?

*Okay, hold your horses, apiarists both amateur and professional, before you go posting all kinds of scientific mumbo jumbo about how what I've got in my yard are only bumblebees, not honeybees. I'll tell you right now: I don't want to hear it.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

An Open Letter to McDonalds

Dear McDonalds:

When are you going to get a liquor license? Seriously.

I have heard tell of magical restaurants in Germany that look like regular McDonaldses but offer McBier. And if there's one thing that Germans are known for—besides their childlike sense of wonder and love for all things whimsical—it's their ability to set trends that the rest of the world cannot help but follow without any reservations whatsoever.

So, how long does the U.S. have to wait? Sure, after a tough day I can bury my snout in a brace of cheeseburgers, or drown my sorrows in a trough of french fries, but something is missing. How long must I wait until you can give me what I'm really longing for, the quarter pounder with scotch?


Monday, June 2, 2008

10 Things to Learn on Your First Day at Work

  • Despite Mel Gibson’s popularization of the term “sugartits,” it is not considered acceptable language for the workplace.

  • Referring to copying, typing, filing, and answering phones as “bitch work” will not make you any friends.

  • Pinching coworkers on the ass is not appropriate, even if they are asking for it.

  • The phrase, “Do it now, because I said so, shitstain,” is neither motivational nor encouraging.

  • You will not need to bring an alarm clock with you to work. If you decide to nap on the job, your coworkers or supervisors will be more than happy to wake you. The tricky part is getting them to wake you at a specific time.

  • Names are not written on the lunches in the refrigerator so that you know who to thank after you eat them.

  • Pinching managers on the ass is not appropriate, especially when they are asking for it.

  • Asking if you have to be sober to do your job is bad, but not being sober when you show up to do your job is worse.

  • Before starting games of tic-tac-toe, or engaging in doodles and/or written speculation regarding the bedroom habits of your coworkers, be absolutely sure that the paper you are using isn’t a document that has been prepared for widespread distribution.

  • As security personnel escort you off of the premises to the waiting police car, pinching them on the ass is not appropriate. They will never ask for it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

There's a reason for that.

When I gained a measure of autonomy, I decided that I would test a lot of the practices that my parents tried to instill in me to determine if they were valuable habits to develop, or an unnecessary waste of time. Like pyjamas. Is it really necessary to have a completely separate outfit to sleep in? I decided that it was not, which proved to be a real time-saver in college once I didn't have to worry about bringing my Star Wars PJs to a keg party if I thought I'd end up passing out on the couch.

Now that I have a house, I'm looking into some of the more common home upkeep chores to see if they're important enough to do frequently, or if I can get away with letting them slide for a while. Like mowing the lawn. We're not in an appearance-obsessed suburb, and the dog seems to like stalking through shoulder-high grass from time to time, pretending he's a wolf on the prowl for a squirrel or an unattended baby. Who is it going to hurt?

Me. I found out that it's going to hurt me, and the lawn needs to be mowed on a weekly, if not daily basis. While using the weed whacker (okay, it's technically a "string trimmer," and not actually a branded weed whacker) to clear out a dense clump of vegetation, a rustling in the underbrush (underweeds) made me stop. I watched, horrified, as a spider big enough to take on a rat (and probably win) in a no-holds-barred, bare knuckle brawl staggered out from his hiding place and moved on to more welcoming surroundings.

In addition to mowing the lawn, I am now considering paving the lawn.